Startup Q&A is an interview series showcasing health, fitness, and wellness companies.
In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Annie Flamsteed, founder and CEO of iNSPIRETEK, a wellness management platform supporting the mental health of youth athletes. Annie discusses how her own experiences as a competitive gymnast highlighted the dire need for her suite of apps that enables emotional and activity tracking for teams and coaches.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at iNSPIRETEK?
Annie Flamsteed: iNSPIRETEK is a Brisbane, Australia-based healthtech company focused on the mental health of young athletes.
We have developed a suite of products in conjunction with experts across mental health, sports science, and education to drive positive behavior change. The iNSPIRETEK platform is modeled on our “prevention-via-prediction” model, which allows us to help young athletes gain insight into their mental health and wellness through emotion and activity tracking — and to intervene before it gets too late.
Unlike most AMS platforms and other solutions on the market, our technology has been designed specifically for young athletes, is affordable for clubs and organizations of all sizes, and is scalable to treat this global epidemic and change millions of lives.
Additionally, we’re very focused on privacy with everything that we do, both in terms of the data we capture and in how the athlete manages their relationships with their coaches, club, and sport.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
AF: Simply put, I wish it existed when I was a young athlete. Growing up, I was a competitive gymnast, and I burnt out of the sport before I could really go anywhere with my career.
To this day, I still battle anorexia and panic attacks because of the stress put on me, and the stress I put on myself, as a young athlete.
While I was at university with plans to become a medical doctor, I realized that the reason I struggled as a young athlete was not due to a lack of support or opportunity. It was because the resources and sports tech solutions were offered too late or simply weren’t easily accessible, and I lacked the education and insight I needed to tackle these issues before they developed into serious mental and physical health problems.
I—nor my coaches, parents, teammates—had no way of monitoring my mental health and wellness outside of the usual performance metrics, and no way of intervening. This is the problem we are aiming to solve.
The recent attention that mental health is receiving—not only in my sport of gymnastics with Simone Biles but in all sports with athletes like Naomi Osaka, Dak Prescott and others—has given me and my team even more drive to build a platform that can help with the mental health epidemic facing young people and, in particular, young athletes.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
AF: First and foremost, we made sure that the idea was validated on multiple levels. I am aware that I am not the only former competitive young athlete to suffer from mental health issues.
Beyond this, the data from nearly every sporting body in Australia, the US, and all over the world points to mental health as an epidemic in both sport and among the general population.
In the early days, I spoke to parents of athletes, coaches, clubs, schools, colleges, and even state and national sporting bodies who all validated the need for not only a product like this, but one on a model like ours, which is affordable and scalable.
After that, I just worked as hard and as fast as I could to get it validated in the market. As with many healthtech companies, the COVID-19 pandemic acted as an accelerant for us, both in terms of product development and investor interest.
We closed our seed round in 2021 and have a strong revenue pipeline as we expand out globally.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
AF: We look at our addressable market in a few ways. Most importantly, mental health issues are not confined to a region or certain geography — it’s a global problem, and we have built our platform to scale.
To start, we’re aligning with key partners and consumer growth in Australia, which is a small country but has an avid sporting culture (there are close to 2M young athletes in Australia, and nearly 200K young gymnasts alone).
Beyond that, we have our targets set on the US (where there are 30M young athletes), Europe, and APAC.
We don’t have plans to keep iNSPIRETEK focused only on young athletes forever, but this is the space we know best — and for better or worse, young athletes are forced to push themselves physically and mentally more than the average young person.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
AF: Obviously, our users are young athletes but our customers are often their schools, club, and affiliated organizations (like an AMS, aka athlete management system).
We’re currently acquiring users organically, and we gain customers through direct sales and marketing on a SAAS model, which is scaling well and proving a strong market fit for our offering.
We also recently announced the rebrand of our technology suite, with our infinite user app working in tandem with our team-level insight and “insight Plus” platform.
We are a sports tech company and function like an AMS in many ways, but we view our role as a digital health company much more broadly. So, as we onboard more young athletes and sporting organizations, we will continue to evolve our offering to be able to help as many young people as possible.
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
AF: Commercially, we are well on our way to strong revenue numbers in our home market of Australia, and we plan to double down on this local traction as well as launch in the US and Europe this year.
We have built a strong technology team around our CTO, Kieren Dowding, and have several key releases in our product pipeline this year, from expanding on our automated intervention technology to growing out our content HQ, which will allow us to house and distribute content from third-party trusted partners to further enhance our product offering for our users.
We are also going to be putting together an advisory board over the next few months with leaders from across sport and mental health to help guide our direction and ensure we are on track to deliver what the youth sports market so desperately needs.
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