What is Noah Basketball?
Noah Basketball (commonly referred to as just “Noah”) is a machine vision tool that facilitates impactful basketball training. Noah – a small box-shaped contraption that can be wheeled on and off the basketball court (see image below) – is an automated shooting coach that gives athletes instantaneous verbal feedback on the arc of their basketball jump shot. As those who have played basketball before will be able to relate to, an athlete can visually see if they miss their shot to the left or to the right, and can train themselves to correct for these misses through the muscle memory of practice. However, until Noah, these has never been a way to get quantitative data around if an athlete is shooting “too high” (using an entry angle into the basketball hoop that is hard to control) or “too low” (using a flat entry angle that leaves little margin for error to make the shot). Watch this training video for more information.
In 2014, the market value for sporting goods in the U.S was greater than $63 billion (1) — basically, Americans take their sports training extremely seriously. The sport of basketball is no exception. Starting as early as the age of 4 and continuing until the professional levels of the sport, various basketball shooting clinics, training camps, personal coaches, guides/manuals, and training tools can be purchased in pursuit of perfecting your basketball jump shot form and accuracy. Historically, a great deal of this coaching and feedback has been qualitative and delivered by either successful ex-players or respected coaches. These coaches would often give feedback around the “arc” of an athlete’s shot, but with the human eye, it is only possible to recognize when a shot is either much too low or much too high. Enter Noah Basketball – before the team even attempted to sell their product, they were intent on proving the statistical significance of having the exact “right” arc to your basketball shot. Their initial hypothesis was there was one right entry angle that all the best shooters used, but what they found through rigorous academic studies (partnering with academic institutions to complete their experimentations) was that in fact consistency of arc within a given range of entry angles (approximately 43 – 47 degrees) was actually a more important indicator of “success” than one specific entry angle – say 45 degrees. This was a huge value creation moment for the market of basketball coaching because now there was a quantifiable way to show if your shot – regardless of your level of skill – was actually improving or not.
Noah Basketball captures value within the basketball training space by selling machines directly to players, coaches, teams, and training clinics. At a price point of $5,000 for both the software and the hardware, the expense often puts the machine out of the price range of individuals, but is fairly accessible to teams and clinics. In fact, with the quantifiable value-add that Noah has proved through their statistical studies and published patents, many high school, college, and professional teams are beginning to see Noah as a differentiator to improve the skill of their players faster than their competitors. Additionally, for many organizations it also enhances recruiting capability as players enjoy using the gamification features of Noah, which they understand directly enhances their shooting percentages as their consistency increases.
Operating Model: Impact on Business Model
The operating model (processes, capabilities, resources, and use of data) behind Noah Basketball are all focused on continuing to quantify the statistical advantage that training on the Noah system gives to basketball players. Marketing materials, strategic partnerships, and sales strategies all focus on building the validity of the Noah training advantage – both through telling the specific success stories of individual athletes (at all levels) and furthering the quantitative statistics to back up these claims. As more players join the Noah platform, and more information is collected at a large scale, the analytical data insights continue to build. A final portion of the operation model that directly impacts that business model is intellectual property (IP). Regarding the Noah technology (machine learning, data algorithms, applications to different sports, etc.), many patents have been filed to protect the new technology being developed. These patents are deeply dependent on adequate data supporting the patent claims.
In conclusion, Noah Basketball is in an extremely exciting position to create value through improving the skill of basketball players and turnaround to capture that value through the sale of Noah systems. Competitors are just beginning to emerge, and the data-supported patent protection of Noah will become increasingly important as they look to continue their growth in this sports training space.