Meet Innovator Bill Near of Helios Hockey
Tell us about your company
Helios Hockey is an early-stage sports technology company based in Portsmouth, NH. We are developing sensor-based IoT technology, mobile and cloud analytics platforms to bring real-time performance stats to ice hockey. Our team from MIT, the NHL, formerly Intel, Nike and Bauer, is building products for the next generation of player, team and equipment development. Our technology and IP are applicable to many sports and the broad Internet of Things (IoT).
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
The best resource has been our team’s depth in technology and hockey. Collectively we have expertise in developing electronics and software products for venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 tech companies, we’ve won two Stanley Cups, played, coached and managed hockey at every level, from youth through college to the pros. Applying a deep appreciation of the hockey market and culture drives the direction for building Helios’ technology products, brand and culture.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle was the time it took to develop a hardware prototype before taking on investment. Early on I spent ~20 hours per week consulting on electronics and software to medical device and robotics clients to strike the delicate balance of advancing Helios while minimizing burn rate. For Helios’ hardware prototype, I took a “lean and mean” approach that leveraged my skills in embedded electronics and firmware to build a wow factor demo that got our first investors excited.
What’s the best advice you have received?
What better advice than the words of hockey’s Great One, Wayne Gretzky, who famously said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
NH is home – I grew up in New Hampton and Moultonborough where I attended high school. My small-town upbringing fostered a freedom to explore passions guided by a strong work ethic, education and underlying respect for people. This is what growing up and living in NH means to me. After spending 11 years in Boston earning my engineering degrees from MIT and completing the first chapter of our professional careers, my wife Taylor and I left our 600 sq-ft apartment to explore the NH Seacoast. Since moving back to NH Taylor has gone full-time on her wedding invitation business (Mulberry & Elm Design) and I started Helios Hockey. NH provides us with the time, space and community to build our businesses and lifestyle.
What does the future look like for your company?
Our vision for Helios is to be the leader of motion-tracked sports. Our IoT hardware IP brings differentiation to our analytics business. We are laser-focused on first disrupting hockey and see future opportunities to bring our technology to lacrosse and other sports. The Helios brand will sit at the nexus of Sports, IoT, Big Data, Machine Learning and Analytics.