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Founder: startup SwimIntel's PredictAI churns athlete-recruitment waters
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SwimIntel Owner & CoFounder Jamie Bailey

JAMIE BAILEY, a Kentucky-bred EE, tech entrepreneur and father of a daughter determined to be a more competitive swimmer, says he is unlikely ever to sell any of his 100% ownership of his SwimIntel LLC startup, which has generated revenue since its first day live, seven months ago.

The 47-year-old SaaS entrepreneur told Venture Nashville that the concept underlying SwimIntel came into sharper focus when his daughter, a competitive swimmer, told him a year ago, "Daddy, when I go to college, I don't want to stare at the bottom of the pool for four years and not get faster."

Bailey soon set about analyzing metrics and insights most important to swimmers, their families and college recruiters -- intelligence that undergirds both whole-athlete "Best Fit" matchups with colleges, as well as intel for coaches who must determine who among their platoons has made the team fast and which recruits would be likely to make the team faster.

In a company press release this morning, SwimIntel stressed that its PredictAI offering uses artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms to consider "a wide array of factors including event specialties, times, gender, origin club, and historical college program performance."

Bailey explained that roughly 7,000 college swimmers compete as freshmen each year, across 627 institutions with Divisions 1, 2 or 3 teams.

In the run-up to admissions, students' families and others are very influential in prioritizing school targets. Resource here.

The company said PredictAI's competitive edge is a result of factors such as its "robust training data set," which comprises information from over 15,000 college swimmers originating from more than 2,500 clubs.

Bailey told VNC that many college swimmers don't make it past their first season on campus, getting cut as the team makes room on its roster for faster swimmers or self-eliminating out of frustration with their performance in the pool, demands of college studies or other factors.

The stakes are potentially high for would-be collegiate swimmers, and, occasionally, one of the most important things SwimIntel can do for a candidate is to warn them they might be pursuing a school that would prove a bad fit, and a short career.

He said that among priorities for him and his team -- currently numbering "less than 5 FTE" -- is continuing to train the PredictAI model. Gradually, his next hires will be focused on accelerating growth and deepening operational and admin support.

Along the way, the company is turning-up actionable intelligence. For example, they've confirmed that identifying optimal schools for individual swimmers is significantly influenced by such variables as the swimmer's own preferred college destination, and the competitiveness of the student's "origin" swimming club.

Altogether, said Bailey, he sees a well-defined addressable market for a SaaS offering, particularly an offering that's replicable in other fields of athletics, such as track and field.

When asked, he acknowledged there could be a future role for SwimIntel related to such innovations as Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) market-matching. (The Chronicle, the student-run newspaper at Duke University, touched on related issues in a story two days ago.)

Bailey also confirmed that while he's focused on swimmers and coaches seeking Best Fits, he's also engaging in conversations about longer-run business diversification opportunities.

Benji DeMotte

He also emphasized his reliance on the company's co-founder, Benji DeMotte, who has more than 30 years of swim-coaching experience. He has coached a Division 1 college program and has fielded five Olympians and 15 NCAA All-American swimmers, among other accolades. He is currently senior coach and a site manager for Excel Acquatics, based in Brentwood.

Bailey attributed his strong start with SwimIntel mainly to his engineering background and his success launching and operating SaaS data analytics entrant Initial State, which raised $3MM in outside capital and sold in 2018 to Fortive's Tektronix, within which Bailey spent three years, post-deal.

That exit experience may have influenced his determination to structure SwimIntel LLC in a manner that he believes mitigates pressure to engage in often-fraught M&A processes.

At SwimIntel, incremental compensation of all team members is now linked mainly to revenue gains, rather than stock or options thereof, he explained.

That arrangement brings some latitude and flexibility. He wrote in an online post last September, in part, "One of the things that I did that was different [from the structure of Initial State] was I ended up building the entire company out as a framework. I did this so it could be easily repeated/modified/maintained for any company with a similar business model."

He told VNC that he has, thus far, personally developed much of SwimIntel's SaaS-analytics offering, and has managed most of its commerce- and brand-building toolset, achieving great marcom results.

As a result of his earlier career, he exclaimed with a laugh, "Now, I am finally dangerous!" and competent to do anything that's required.

He told VNC that scenarios in which, farther out, he replicates the framework of SwimIntel for other markets is more than whiteboard scrawling.

Asked about advisors, Bailey said it's early-days for SwimIntel, but noted that he has long turned to Chris Sloan of Baker Donelson in Nashville and attorneys with Cooley.

He's in the early stages of scouting for an accountant, and he continues banking with First Horizon. He, alone, handles the company's public and media relations, social media and other marcom.

In this morning press release (pdf here), the company highlight these PredictAI features (quoting):

  • Performance Projections: Predictive analytics that forecast a recruit's future performance based on historical data and trends.
  • Best Fit Reports for Student-Athletes: Comprehensive reports customized to show recruits where they fit athletically and academically.
  • College Program Analytics: Improvement/progression analysis for hundreds of college teams and conferences spanning all NCAA divisions.
  • Club Analytics: Historical performance analysis of how swimmers from 2,500+ clubs have performed at the collegiate level.

Competitors? He emphasized he does not currently see any truly direct competitors, though he imagines those will arise as SwimIntel advances.

Bailey affirmed he could imagine SwimIntel attracting interest from such potential bidders as, e.g., Chicago-based National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA), an organization that Bailey thinks would recognize that SwimIntel is a likely market disruptor.

Until a year ago, NCSA was held by Endeavor Group Holdings (NYSE:EDR), but Endeavor sold NCSA to BPEA EQT, an affiliate of global PE EQT that partnered in the deal with UK-based Nord Anglia education.

The 24-year-old NCSA line of business boasts least 40K coaches who use NCSA to find athletes across 35 sports.

Bailey also acknowledged as an entrant Lincoln, Neb.-based American College Connection (ACC), which VNC research suggests is still 100% owned by former University of Nebraska swimming coach Richard "Rick" Paine.

After leaving Tektronix, Bailey held roles as EVP for revenue, marketing and strategy for Nashville fintech Alto Solutions, led by Founder Eric Satz. Also, he has thus far served three years as a director of HAVENLock, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Prior to Initial State, his career stops included system engineer with Louisville-based Lexmark, and serving as managing founder of Family Medicine Associates of Franklin (Ky.).

Bailey, born and reared in the farming community of Glasgow, Ky., earned bachelor's ('94) and master's ('01) degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Kentucky.

He and his wife, a physician, reside in Franklin outside Nashville and have two children. The older child, his competitive daughter, has signed-on to join the swimming team at Emory University, this fall.

Naturally, Bailey himself is a swimmer, but he told VNC his own preference was baseball.

SwimIntel's announcement was made today because, whereas publicists in other sectors traditionally avoid putting out 'good news' on a Friday, for athletes and their fans, Friday is the cusp of a very busy weekend for their favorite sport, Bailey explained. VNC

. last edited 0920 6 April 2024

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Tags: AI, Alto Solutions, American College Connection, analytics, artificial intelligence, Baker Donelson, Benji DeMotte, BPEA EQT, Chris Sloan, coaching, college sports, Cooley, education, Endeavor Group Holdings, EQT, Eric Satz, First Horizon, HavenLock, Initial State, Jamie Bailey, National Collegiate Scouting Association, NCSA, NIL, Nord Anglia, predictive analytics, Rick Paine, sports, SwimIntel, swimming, University of Kentucky

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