Founder story: Iggy Jovanovic from Gerford AI

The Gerford AI founder story

Meet Iggy Jovanovic, a sports enthusiast who truly believes in the power of small improvements, even just 1%, for athletes. Through his company, Gerford AI, he’s doing his part to make a difference in the world of sports.

We recently supported Founder, Iggy Jovanovic, with financial modelling to help identify growth opportunities and allocate resources accordingly. We’re happy to share his journey with you here. Plus, there are some useful insights for new entrepreneurs in his story!

What is Gerford AI?

Gerford AI’s software employs computer vision to track athletes and provides player and match analytics post-game.

We currently specialise in table tennis and mogul skiing, but the AI algorithm can be adapted for other sports.

Wow okay! So… what problem are you solving?

The big guys like IBM and Oracle cover the Tier 1 sports, but Tier 2 and 3 sports (not table tennis), not at all.

We jumped into that gap about two and a half years ago. So we are automating performance analysis for athletes in sports that may not have received attention. We are doing that by taking a close look at relevant gold medal winners and opponents of our clients and providing them with specific advice on how to beat them.

What was your light bulb moment? 

We started out relying on visual data from fixed cameras, so COVID with its travel restrictions hit us hard. Our light bulb moment came from figuring out a way to remotely analyse games using broadcast feeds or streams. No one was doing that at the time, and it opened up a whole new world for us. 

The Tokyo Olympics in 2021 came just in time – barely anybody was allowed on-site, which meant that our freshly developed analysis via stream was just perfect. This product adaptation opened up new possibilities and laid the foundation for our current growth.

Iggy Jovanovic, the founder of Gerford AI at the world table tennis finals women Nagoya
Iggy at the world table tennis finals women Nagoya

What stage are you at now?

We’re coming to the end of our third year and the business is about to grow a lot. Currently, we have four full-time team members and 15 contractors and we’ll soon be hiring more people.

We’re also entering the world of esports. After analysing it thoroughly in 2023, we saw some great opportunities.

We’re also expanding into other sports markets, like swimming in U.S. colleges. There are a number of colleges with competitive swimming as a program that are looking for a solution, which we have. So, in a nutshell, we’re gearing up for more sports, more staff, and exciting times ahead!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

A lot of people talk about “follow your passion” but not everybody has a passion, right? What I figured out when looking at my employees was that instead, you should just follow your curiosity. It is ok to not have a passion – follow your curiosity and eventually it will lead you down the path that stimulates you, and then you will also be successful. 

For founders specifically: I think business is tougher and more competitive than it’s ever been. The funding market has settled down quite a bit throughout the last year or two, which is weeding out a lot of people who just want to start a business for fun. You will have to put in a lot of time and energy to succeed and be willing to move.

That’s the learning I want to share – to be successful, you need to be nimble and agile to change. Be prepared to adjust.

How have we helped?

Standard Ledger came into the picture early this year when we were gearing up for growth opportunities and planning ahead for the year 2024. I needed someone to help me review and model our financial projections, and your help with this has been incredibly valuable. We made significant changes and conducted various financial modelling exercises, especially focusing on specific sports and markets. This helped us reshape our strategy, identify areas for growth, and optimise resource allocation. As a result, we are now strategically positioned to expand our reach and impact.

What personal sacrifices have you made?

Running Gerford AI has meant giving up a lot on the personal front. I’ve been working seven days a week, and that’s already a pretty big sacrifice. Family time has taken a hit; I’ve got two teenage sons who don’t get to hang out with me as much as they’d probably like. It’s a bummer. And then there’s the social stuff – hanging out with friends, catching movies, enjoying a good meal at a restaurant – all things I love but can’t really do right now.

I know it won’t be like this forever, though. At some point, I’ll have the opportunity to get back to these activities. In the meantime, my days are pretty much all about work. I try to squeeze in some exercise whenever I can, just to keep things sane. Oh, and family dinners during lockdown – that’s a non-negotiable to keep us all connected.

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