Editor’s note: This feature is part of our Startup Spotlight series that focuses on emerging potential stars in North Carolina’s innovation economy.


WINSTON-SALEM –  Winston-Salem-based startup F5 Sports, which offers pitchLogic, a smart baseball that connects to a robust set of analytical tools via a mobile application, is again raising capital to fund growth and operations.

CEO Jeff Ackerman confirmed to WRAL TechWire that the company is in the process of raising an additional $1.5 million on a convertible note, which the company expects to close in the next three months.

The latest funding round comes on the heels of the company pivoting to a business model that Ackerman said helps resolve two of the challenges that the company’s customers and potential customers had raised.

W-S sports tech company F5 Sports continues to fundraise, now with newly patented pitchLogic system

The pivot

Now, instead of asking customers to pay $300 to own a technology-enabled smart baseball, the company provides the device to customers on a subscription basis.

And, Ackerman said that the company will always ensure its customers have a functioning smart baseball, updating and switching out the product at least every six months.

The firm asks customers to pay $30 per month, or an annual fee, as a subscriber.  And no longer does the startup offer a free version of the application and a premium, paid version.  Instead, every subscriber will gain access to all of the startup’s premium features, including one that Ackerman said no other sports technology firm is integrating into its operations.

“What we’re doing that is unique compared to everyone else is that not only do we provide all of the data, and more than others provide, but we also tell you how to make improvements to what you are doing,” said Ackerman.  “We tell you how good of a pitch it was, and how to make it better.”

The pivot is already paying dividends.

“We’ve had a really good response,” said Ackerman.  “We saw an immediate tick up in sales.”

But it will take time for the company to stabilize its growth trajectory under the new business model.

And that’s in part why the firm is raising additional capital, said Ackerman, following a $1.4 million fundraise in 2021 and a $2.1 million fundraise in 2020.

“We want this ability to continue to build our cash flow by using our subscription model, and then, since we just switched over to it, it takes a little time to build, so we’re raising money for our working capital needs,” Ackerman said.

W-S sports tech startup spins out $1.4M fundraise, more coming

How the newest pitchLogic feature works

The company recently rolled out a new feature which will provide in-depth analytics, and recommendations, that helps athletes improve their pitching ability.  Ackerman calls it “whole scoring” and noted that the technology is based on real game data across millions of pitches made by professional baseball players playing for Major League Baseball teams.

“We’re super excited about having this whole scoring feature,” said Ackerman.  “It really sets us apart.”

The company is not working to dictate or teach a distinct pitching method, noted Ackerman.  Instead, the system is built to analyze an individual’s pitching mechanics, and make recommendations on how to improve, based on those personal mechanics and how the athlete is spinning and releasing the ball.

“We’re not trying to make everybody look like Verlander,” said Ackerman.  “Everyone is different, has their very own way of throwing the ball.”

For that reason, said Ackerman, the company isn’t working to ensure every person’s fastball looks the same.  Instead, the pitchLogic system will make recommendations on how to improve, for example, suggesting how to vary speed between a fastball and a breaking ball, adjusting the release point of a pitch, or analyzing spin data.

“We come up with recommendations that will result in pitches that will score better, based on MLB game data,” said Ackerman.  “It’s all based on actual, live, MLB game data, and based on what was the outcome with each of those pitches, those millions of pitches.”

The company earned a patent for its technology earlier this year.

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