Five Questions for Jaan Brunken

Headshot Jaan Brunken on DWIH template background © DWIH New York

The DWIH New York had the pleasure of interviewing Jaan Brunken, co-founder of Wingfield, a German startup in the sports industry on the verge of its market entry into the US.

Hello Jaan, tell us a bit about yourself and your career that led to co-founding Wingfield.

Before starting this venture, I was a tennis professional, and I noticed that while data and video analysis was readily available on the pro tour, it was not accessible to amateur level players. This sparked an idea in our founding team to create a platform that would provide these analysis tools to players at all levels, democratizing the use of technology in tennis. Our goal with Wingfield is to make video and data accessible to everyone in tennis and other racket sports, allowing players and coaches to analyze their performance, identify areas for improvement, and take their game to the next level. It’s been an exciting journey so far, and we’re proud to be part of a movement that’s changing the game of tennis for the better.

What services and products does the company offer, what makes Wingfield innovative?

Our flagship product is the Smart Netpost, a user-friendly and easy-to-install device equipped with two high-speed cameras that track various aspects of a player’s performance, including shot placement, speed, and height. The data captured by the Smart Netpost is then transmitted to our cloud-based platform, where it can be analyzed to identify areas for improvement.

At Wingfield, the user experience is at the core of everything we do. We understand that both players and court providers require a seamless experience, and our Smart Netpost delivers that experience. This approach gives us a competitive edge in the market, as we’re able to offer an innovative product that’s both easy to use and provides actionable insights to help players improve their game.

In September 2022, you participated in the “STEP USA University Program” funded by the DWIH New York and executed by the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC) in New York. What led to your decision to apply to apply for the program and what did you take away from the program?

My experience with the GACC’s STEP program was great. As a sport-tech founder from Germany, moving our company to the US was always a big goal but also felt like a huge project. However, the program’s hands-on experts provided me with the guidance I needed to navigate these first steps and a few months after the program we have a running US entity to run our US operations. The program was a great navigator, allowing me to be efficient and providing trusted sources of information for this first step towards my company’s US market entry. I highly recommend it to any founder looking to make the move to the US market.

Following the STEP program, Wingfield won the “Newcomer of the Year Award” at the German American Business Night in New York, a few weeks ago you went on a trip to the US west coast, so you are getting a good overview about the US. In your view opinion, what some differences between the US and Germany – e.g. regarding business, tennis, or in general?

Winning the “Newcomer of the Year Award” at the German American Business Night in New York was a great honor for us at Wingfield, and we’re thrilled about the recognition. We’re also excited to see the interest and enthusiasm around our product in the US. As for differences between the US and Germany, I’m sure I haven’t discovered all of them yet, but a few stand out. In the US, the business culture seems more driven by an entrepreneurial mindset and innovation, which creates a dynamic and competitive environment. On the other hand, in Germany, there’s a strong emphasis on quality and efficiency, which can make it harder to identify first movers. When it comes to tennis, both the US and Germany have a rich tradition in the sport. However, I believe that sport has a higher standing in American society, which means that more resources and opportunities are available for players at all levels, from grassroots to professionals.

You are right now part of German Accelerator’s U.S. Market Access Program. Could you tell us a bit about the program and of course your plans for 2023 and 2024?

Yes, we’re currently participating in German Accelerator’s U.S. Market Access Program, which is designed to help German startups successfully enter the US market. It’s been an incredible experience so far, as the program has provided us with valuable resources and mentorship to help us refine our go-to-market strategy. One of the key aspects of the program has been building a strong network in the US, which I am sure will be instrumental in our success. Moving forward, our plans for 2023 and 2024 are focused on expanding our presence in the US market. I’m spending the majority of my time here to build up our sales and service operations, and we’re working to establish key partnerships and collaborations with other players in the industry. Overall, we’re incredibly excited about the opportunities ahead.

Thank you, Jaan! The next edition of the “STEP USA University Program” will take place in December 2023, stay tuned for more infos.