Startup won Summer of Code – now millions comes from Innovation Norway and Microsoft

By May 28, 2018Press

Entrepreneur left the position as regional director in Telenor to invest in the project.

STAVANGER ( – We’re at “Innovation Dock”. You are there when you see a big horse, says the message from Nils Henrik Stokke, one of the founders of the entrepreneur house in Stavanger. Two minutes later we are there. A big horse furnishes the office community and looks towards the North Sea. Behind the horse is a man with a plan.

I’ve had the entrepreneur in my stomach ever since my first start-up. It has become part of my DNA, says Trond Kittelsen. He is Founder and CEO of SevenSix: A start-up that will replace pen and paper with sensor data, analysis and digital tools within Tennis.

Kittelsen has previously worked a lot with IT as a business developer in Evry Consulting. He then became headhunted for the position as Regional Director for Telenor Norway. After a few years at work, however, he left the safety of a permanent position in favour of the entrepreneurial life. It is of course a more uncertain path. All entrepreneurs knows that. It’s just a lot of x’s and y’s, says Kittelsen.

Sensor technology will provide better tennis technique

Now he wants to help everything from amateur to professional to improve their tennis technique. To do that, SevenSix has undertaken sensor technology. By fixing a simple sensor on your wrist, you can find out quite a lot about how to play tennis.

The sensor can detect where you hit the tennis ball, how hard, and even how much spin it is on the ball, he explains.

In the end, you can identify quite a bit, Kittelsen mentions.

You can get data on the number of hits with forehand, backhand, smashes, top spin-hit and how many times you have served. If you combine all the sensors with video you can come quite far, explains the entrepreneur.

Among other things, you can analyse where on the court you lose or win the most points and what spin you have on the ball in the sets you win, Kittelsen emphasises.

Here comes another part of the technology: Order a coach. Need help getting more side spin on the ball? Want to improve how to hold your racket? Then you can order a training session and get online feedback for 299 kroner.

The sensor can detect where you hit the tennis ball, how hard, and even how much spin it is on the ball.

– 80 percent of the price goes back to the tennis clubs and coaches, emphasises Kittelsen, who has played tennis for over 30 years.

Won Summer of Code

In 2017, SevenSix participated in Capgemini’s “Summer of Code.” Every year 3-4 students take a project into a seven week long program and connect with the Capgemini team. SevenSix ended up winning, and after seven intensive weeks, MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was completed.

Recently, Innovation Norway granted SevenSix’s application for commercialisation support for start-up companies. This makes the CEO Trond Kittelsen excited about the future.

It makes it possible to research this and realise it, he says.

Sevensix is one of several startups at the Innovation Dock in Stavanger.

In the development of the web application, they have exclusively used Microsoft technology and Azure stack.

That is what Capgemini is best at, therefore the choice of ecosystem was really given. I also have experience with it from both Evry and Telenor, says Kittelsen.

SevenSix has also received another $120,000 from Microsoft through their BizSpark Plus platform. BizSpark Plus is a collaboration between Microsoft and accelerators worldwide to provide credit to selected startup companies.

This also eliminates data costs on all components of Azure stack, Kittelsen explains.

Random meeting

It all started by chance. Kittelsen was on his way to the French Open 2016. Beside him on the plane, Øivind Sørvald suddenly sat down. Sørvald is a trainer and analyst, and is very well known in the tennis community, also internationally. He has worked with a number of top players, and has won two Grand Slam titles.

He is the analyst who has analysed videos of pro players for decades. He gives the players and coaches what they need to win matches, Kittelsen says.

We got along, and Sørvald told me about the challenges and opportunities that exist within Tennis. People are not good at using the technology that exists to solve the problems that they have. I also got to see how he worked with a top player.

Based on what Sørvald told him, Kittelsen developed SevenSix – a digital ecosystem for teams, players and coaches. All data is collected in one place and the need for pen and paper disappear.

The name SevenSix refers to winning 7-6 in tiebreak.

The dream is that Nadal or Federer will start using it when they retire.

The way ahead

Last Friday, Kittelsen presented the solution on the Tennis Conference – an annual conference of 130 Norwegian coaches under the direction of the Norwegian Tennis Association. It marks a line change for the business.

– There will not be much more development in the short term. Now we have to test it and get feedback on what’s good and what’s less good. Then we must develop the solution in line with that, explains Kittelsen.

It may seem that SevenSix has already come a long way. Now the real job begins. To commercialise and get this to an international level, we rely on getting the best people and making the right strategic choices.

And with that he really means the very best.