David Graff, John Wirtz, and Brian Kaiser,Founders of Agile Sports
The Broncos, the Browns, and the Jets all use Agile Sports's software to help players memorize offensiveand defensive schemes.
By Nitasha Tiku | Jul 19, 2010A month after signing with the New York Jets in 2008, Brett Favre memorized between 40 and 50 percent of
the team‟s complex offensive playbook. By the season kickoff, he had 75 percent of the plays down cold. He
did it all with the help of coaching software developed by three twenty-somethings in Lincoln, Nebraska.David Graff was an MBA student at University of Nebraska working for Huskers football coach Bill Callahanwhen he first got the idea for Agile Sports. Callahan, a former Oakland Raiders coach, wanted to adapt hisoffensive and defensive strategy for college football. Leveraging his accounting background, Graff developedsome crude databases that looked at statistical breakdowns. But there was one hitch. There was no way to
analyze game tape away from the team‟s headquarte
rs.To Graff, the technological dilemma smelled of opportunity. He sat down with two fellow students, BrianKaiser and John Wirtz, and made the pitch: the three of them would develop a software program that would letcoaches and players view, mark up, and
(writing on the screen like a sportscaster on TV)remotely and securely over a laptop.They presented the idea to Callahan in February 2006, and the coach liked it so much that he wanted to use itfor spring training. That posed a sma
ll problem. “The demo was a lot of smoke and mirrors,” says Graff. Theyneeded access to Callahan‟s coaching staff in order to assess the team‟s needs, and a year to build the software.
Callahan agreed. With just their laptops and a $200-a-month office space, they went to work. Kaiser focused onthe technology; Graff and Wirtz applied for patents and wrote the business plan. Security was the biggestconcern. In addition to a firewall and tracking IP address of approved users, the software would text a five-digit
access code to a users‟ personal cellphone.
Callahan was so pleased with the software, called Hudl, that when he interviewed with the New York Jets in2008, he brought it with him. The Jets soon signed up as a customer. Two more NFL franchises, the Broncosand the Browns, as well as 12 Division I college football teams, now use Hudl to allow players and recruitersstudy tape remotely.
In the past year, the company has also signed on 1,300 of the country‟s 18,000 high school teams as accounts.
The software lets coaches input video directly from a camera with the same notation and telestration functions.Players can also easily assemble highlight reel to send to recruiters. With 100,000 youth sports teams around thecountry, the company is considering di
versifying even further. “Right now, we wouldn‟t rule anything out,”
says Graff.Copyright © 2011 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved.Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.