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People: People profile: Barnaby Kent, founder of My Action Replay

Inventor and CEO, My Action Replay

Published in Sports Management 13 Jun 2016 issue 122
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Barnaby Kent first came up with the idea 20 years ago
Barnaby Kent first came up with the idea 20 years ago

Having video evidence of a personal, momentous sporting moment has for decades been the the privilege of a few – mainly athletes taking part in major competitions. A UK entrepreneur, however, has come up with a way to offer the same opportunity to lesser mortals – such as five-a-side football veterans and military-medium trundlers at cricket grounds across the land.   

My Action Replay lets people capture sporting moments – whether their own moment of excellence, or an event they are involved in – at quite literally the push of a button. “It’s an idea I first had 20 years ago, playing sport as a youngster,” says Barnaby Kent, who has now quit his day job as a software designer to concentrate developing the new service.

“I played a lot of sport in my youth, and always wanted to see what I looked like in action – or rather, where my flaws where. The technology at the time, however, made it really cumbersome. You needed camcorders, VHS tapes – and the rest.”

After putting the idea on the back-burner for two decades, Kent decided to rekindle it in 2013, as smartphones had radically hastened the advances made in camera technology. “All of a sudden, technology reached a point where my concept of being able to record yourself on the field of play became a viable one,” he says.

SCORING GOALS
Having developed and successfully tested a prototype, Kent plucked up his courage and sent a message to Keith Rodgers, CEO of five-a-side football centre operator Goals Soccer Centres. Renown for his love of innovation, Rogers took the bait and asked Kent to present the product at a centre in Bristol.

The impact was immediate. “Many of the players who saw it in action for the first time couldn’t believe it was possible.” Kent recounts. “They were amazed that they’d be able to watch the highlights of their own game as soon as they got back into the bar area. They’d gather around the screens and there’d be a lot of mickey taking – so it really created a buzz.”

The system is simple to use. An IP (internet protocol) camera above the pitch continually records the action below. Once a champagne moment has taken place, all a player or official has to do is press the large “record” button placed on the side of the pitch. The last 10-15 seconds of action are then automatically saved and a clip with an internet link is created. Players can then watch the action back at the clubhouse – or download the link from the social media feed or the My Action Replay website or app.

The business model is equally simple. My Action Replay will charge a fee for installing the service, while the centre’s return on investment is secured through offering the players something extra, extending their stay at the bar, and free exposure as the clips get shared on social media.

BIG AMBITIONS
Following the successful trial at its Bristol centre, Goals has since rolled out My Action Replay to six further sites – including its single US centre in Los Angeles, California. To date, Goals is My Action Replay’s largest client, but growth has been rapid and there are now 30 sites which offer the service.

“We’ve got a few sports using the system now,” says Kent. “Basketball, indoor cricket and ice hockey have all taken it on board and we’ve just secured a deal to install the system at the indoor cricket World Cup in Birmingham in October.

“We’ve also installed one at the top of a climbing wall at a climbing centre, so you get to press the button once you reach the summit.”

Kent is constantly finding new uses for his system, including those within professional sport. Somerset County Cricket Club has taken My Action Replay and uses it to keep its social media followers up to date during matches. “They are able to send out highlights of an ongoing game within seconds,” says Kent. “It has really helped with their fan engagement.”

Now that the service is at a stage it can be rolled out to sites in large volumes, Kent has set himself an ambitious target. “We want to be a fast-growing, highly-scaled business,” he says. “The ultimate aim is to have a My Action Replay in every sports venue – from grassroots right up to the top level.”

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