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The little kiwi company that could

The little kiwi company that could

It’s an age-old kiwi story. The small ‘number eight wire’ company making waves overseas. It can often come across as an overnight success story but Andrew Wong (School 2005-2009) will be the first to tell you it is anything but.

Andrew is the Senior Applications Engineer at IMeasureU. The company developed a wearable sensor that tracks movement and the internal and external workload of athletes, going beyond GPS and heartrate technology to allow the user to compare the performance of multiple body parts.

“It enables professional athletes and coaches to make better rehabilitation, training and performance decisions.”

Andrew’s role is to develop the algorithms and data processes used behind the scenes of IMeasureU’s insights.

Sounds impressive, because it is. The device is now being used by sports teams and research institutions worldwide, including a number of Australian sporting institutions, leading universities such as Harvard University, and the NBA.

“An athlete undergoing rehab will want to make sure they’re not reinjuring themselves in the process. Some of the athletes who use our technology can be worth millions of dollars so they want to get it right.”

Not bad for a 26-year-old biomedical engineering graduate who had no inclination towards sports science or business start-ups.

“My degree mostly focused on developing equipment and software for the medical industry. Engineering for sports was such a niche part of the industry so it was the last thing I expected to be doing.”

IMeasureU’s founder, Mark Finch, kept a watchful eye on Andrew during his final year at the University of Auckland and subsequently asked him to join as the company’s first employee in 2013.

“In the early days it was just Mark and I. We were both engineers with no business experience, bootstrapping the company from one desk at the university campus and learning as we went.”

The catalyst for growth came when IMeasureU won the University of Auckland’s entrepreneurial development programme, Spark Challenge (now known as Velocity), and were awarded $25,000 and a six month stint at business incubator, the Icehouse.

“Our time at the Icehouse was extremely important for us to learn how to create a product that was not only useful but something people actually wanted to buy.”

The journey certainly had its ups and downs. The company’s foray into the recreational running market resulted in a failed crowdfunding campaign, which Andrew saw as validation of the company’s place in the elite and professional market.

The success of IMeasureU in spite of its humble beginnings is a feat familiar to Andrew who learned his “do the māhī, get the treats” mentality from his days in St Paul’s 1st XI Hockey team coached by Craig Hardman. “As a small school we were always punching above our weight but Mr Hardman always reminded us that success doesn’t come without a lot of hard work.”

Andrew urged students who are interested in the tech industry to begin making contacts now.

“Whether you’re at university or high school, don’t be afraid to reach out to people in the industry. You’ll be surprised how often people are willing to sit down and have a chat.”

The future of IMeasureU only seems to be getting brighter. Last year they were acquired by global motion capture company, Vicon, whose technology has been used extensively in the film industry, most recently for the latest Star Wars sequel trilogy.

“It’s exciting times. We’re currently working on ways to integrate our two technologies into something really robust.”

And with that, it looks as though the little kiwi company that could is heading for Hollywood.

RACHEL FITNESS