Exclusive interview with the Co-founder of Netrin Sports Technologies – Teja Prakash Kakarla

A multitude of factors impact athlete performance, but it ultimately boils down to the stress or load taken by the body and how well we recover from it to improve the performance while avoiding injuries. Regular tracking and monitoring of these factors shall reduce the risk of injuries and improve the athlete’s wellbeing. Focusing on the above-mentioned factors, Netrin Sports Technologies has developed two products – Tranquil and Repose to guide human performance.

Founded in 2019, Netrin Sports Technologies is a research-focused organization based out of IIT Madras. Their research areas include the development of algorithms and products involving various parameters related to the physiology and motion in sports, lifestyle and wellness segments. The sports tech company works in tandem with the high-performance centers, strength and conditioning coaches, and sports-specific coaches to provide unprecedented insights into athlete performance.

Bizbehindsports had the opportunity to interview the Co-founder of the Netrin Sports Technologies Pvt. Ltd. – Teja Prakash Kakarla to know more about their product Repose and Tranquil. 

NOTE: Comments are edited for clarity.

Excerpts of the interview:

What was your inspiration to start this company?

Observing a game through numbers provided by tracking devices did not make a huge difference in the athlete’s performance. While these trackers could dump raw data upon the user, they have been rarely equipped to provide insights on performance modification and improvement. This is where Netrin marks its presence, by making those numbers work for you, by bridging the gap of technology adoption to guide human performance improvement. 

Who is on your core team?

The core team of Netrin hails from a research background in wearable technology for healthcare and clinical applications. Our interdisciplinary team is linked by their competencies in electronics, biomechanics, data analytics, machine learning and deep learning as well as the passion for sports. 

Who are your clients/target segment?

Through our Repose platform, we are primarily focused on athlete wellness and have extended interests in the corporate wellness and skincare domains.

What are your marketing strategies?

We have three models through which we are pushing the Repose platform to market. An “Essential package”, which is a single payment model that caters to every individual. This involves three 24-hour assessments within a span of two weeks to understand the current training and wellness profile and strategically plan the progress. Another model is an “Excel package”, a subscription model that helps passionate and dedicated individuals who would like to harvest long term performance. This involves periodic monitoring of the lifestyle and training to track the trends of performance progress on the web dashboard along with expert interactions from us. The final one is an “Extend package”, basically a B2B model for organizations who wish to employ a personalized and scientific process for wellness tracking of their teams or clients. The web dashboard enables organizations to track and monitor the overall wellness and performance of their members as well as the organization itself over a period.

Are you providing your services to specific sports or all the sports?

We are not targeting any specific sports as we are not improvising a sporting technique, whereas we focus on improving human performance by understanding the stress and recovery which are common to any sport.

Who are your main competitors?

We have one company doing similar work, called Firstbeat based in Finland.

What are your major sources of revenue?

We are backed by a venture capital group. Now that our product is also in the market, we are looking to generate revenue from the product as well.

What is the purpose of your product – Tranquil?

During the pandemic, we saw a huge rise in the stress levels in different domains for multiple reasons. People are getting stressed out and they do not even know whether they are in a good stage or a critical stage to consult a psychologist. To assist individuals in this situation, we released Tranquil, a free mobile app to get an understanding of your current state through domain-specific (athlete wellness, corporate wellness, students, and healthcare) questionnaires for individual wellness. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) measurement metric remains a popular choice even by psychologists to date.

What kind of results would the individual receive from the questionnaires?

After completing the questionnaire, users will receive a score on five aspects: physical wellness, thought control, active coping, social ease and tension reduction besides an overall stress score and a work stress score. Based on these scores an automated actionable insight would be provided.

Can you tell us about Repose and how it works?

Repose platform is our premium offering that has resulted from extensive research in the areas of emotional stress quantification, physical stress quantification, sleep staging and recovery mapping. It quantifies stress (both emotional and physical) and recovery, the two critical parameters of wellness based on the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) data from Synapse, a chest strap-based wearable. Stress is not just a vague feeling but a physiological phenomenon that can be observed and quantified by analyzing beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate. Stress cannot be avoided in our daily lives; all we can do is manage it and balance it with an optimal amount of recovery. 

Our proprietary algorithms quantify stress, sleep, and recovery through 24-hour assessments. The insights are then either discussed with the individual or the performance teams to craft their personalized training protocol and lifestyle habits for better performance. 

For the product to reach the athletes you are partnering with high-performance centers and coaches? What medium do you use to make sure Repose reaches the corporate employees?

In the corporate sector, we engage with HRs and Leadership and Development teams of the companies. We also engage with wellness service providers, as wellness services are generally outsourced by corporates. Even in the corporate sector, we work in tandem with organizational psychologists or behavioral therapists to introduce lifestyle interventions for positive wellbeing that in turn improves the productivity of the employees.  

How well corporates have adopted Repose?

Corporates are very keen on understanding the stress levels of their employees, especially those of the decision-makers, as their stress levels affect the productivity down the chain. They are responding positively to the product.

In 2021, how are you planning to expand the company?

We are establishing efficient channels to provide Repose as a solution for athlete wellness and corporate wellness by forming partnerships and collaborations with sports training organizations, athlete management software providers, psychologists and wellness service providers. We are planning to ensure that all the stakeholders in the sports, lifestyle and wellness ecosystem are well equipped to integrate the usage of HRV based stress and recovery metrics for human performance improvement.

Interview by Mohit Edupuganti

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