Hardware Accelerator Team Solves Communication Challenges for Rowers

Hardware Accelerator Team Solves Communication Challenges for Rowers

For rowers, communication between the coaches and the boat’s coxswain is everything. Coaches send directions to the coxswains in the boat, instructing rowers on direction and pace. Currently, there is a lack of effective technology on the market to help coaches, who are stationed on land or in remote boats, to easily communicate with coxswains.

Currently, coaches are using outdated megaphones to communicate with their boats, but it is often ineffective because of the volume limitations and lack of sound quality, making it very difficult to decipher commands.

CoachLink is developing a radio device that can be installed in boats and connect coaches to their rowers so that they can communicate from long distances and over water with ease. Ithaca natives and recent high school graduates Benjamin Ellis, Filip Jander, Paul Fisher-York, Scott Smith, and Ava Cohen are building their prototype at Rev’s Hardware Accelerator this summer and are gaining hands-on entrepreneurial experience.

“I’m passionate about this innovation because it’s a real problem that my teammates and I have witnessed first-hand and I want to help crew teams succeed. Based on our market research, many teams struggle to hear anything the coach says and it has had some very real, very negative consequences for teams,” said Ellis.

Communication can also be a safety concern for teams because boats can crash into other boats or obstacles in the water like poles, animals, and debris that can damage the expensive boats.

CoachLink is currently compiling consumer research by interviewing collegiate coaches and rowers to determine if their product is commercially desirable by those in the rowing and crew market.

“We are so excited to be a part of the Hardware Accelerator and want to make this happen. This program gives us the workspace, hours, mentorship, and tools that we need to take our invention to the next level,” said Ellis.

Through their high school’s engineering, design, and development program, the team participated in Pitch Night where they presented their findings and discussed possible next steps to improve their business. They won first place and received funding equal to their full request, taking home $450 to further develop their prototype.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, anyone can be an entrepreneur. We may have just graduated high school, but we’re focused on solving a customer problem and starting our own business from the ground up. Having this experience is amazing and we’re so grateful to be here,” said Cohen.

CoachLink will present their prototype and business plans on August 9th, 2018 at Rev’s Hardware Accelerator Demo Day.

Katie Siple