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Greenville Business Magazine

MPL Founder Plans to Increase Athletes’ Performance with Data

Oct 04, 2023 04:47PM ● By John C. Stevenson

A couple of driven competitors hope to win the $30K PowerUp Competition as they strive to build a business that provides data-driven results to a wide range of athletes looking to take their games to the next level.

Method Performance Labs is the brainchild of Dr. Samuel “Kaipo” Sotelo III, a performance physical therapist who is working with COO Benjamin Sarracino to “put data-driven performance in the hands of everyday athletes.”

Sotelo said the germ of the idea was planted when, as a youth growing up on Guam, he competed on junior national teams in soccer and basketball.

“Being from Guam, we didn’t have the resources out there that we have here,” Sotelo explained recently. “You wanted to be able to rate your performance, but you just don’t have as many of these tools readily available out there.

“So,” he continued, “when I was training out there, I always wanted to dunk a basketball. As a five-nine Filipino guy, my genetics are not in my favor, so I trained really hard, and one of the things I wanted to know was if I was jumping any higher.”

Sotelo’s solution at the time was to put chalk on one hand and slap the backboard to leave a mark, a solution that was far from perfect: “It was an estimation,” he admits now. 

From this, Sotelo came up with the idea of creating a line of products that would be easy to use and easy to afford, products that would produce datasets that athletes could use to improve their training and therefore boost their results.

“There’s a really big gap in getting this state-of-the-art equipment that people can use to train smarter,” Sotelo said. “That’s where MPL comes in and solves that. Our big-picture goal is to have a line of products that you can use different protocols to know how fast you are, how high you can jump, how strong you are – relative to everyone else using the products. Then you can know how to train better.”

Soleto and Sarracino would meet while in college where the two, who shared a love of sports, became fast friends. Sarracino reflected on his experiences with coaches – both good and bad – and explained that MPL would allow the individual athlete to be more proactively involved in his or her training, rather than entirely dependent on a coach. He described the data as the “rock” that would help the athlete to “continue to progress.”

“Being able to produce a suite of products that gives that rock, that stability, to an athlete to take ownership and control of their own performance, that’s something that I found really exciting about this idea.

“Me and Kaipo, we kind of bonded in college,” Sarracino continued. “We worked on a couple of projects together and we found that we work together really well as a team. We kind of balance each other out. So, when he came to me with this idea, it checked all the boxes.”

The inaugural $30K PowerUp is hosted by Integrated Media Publishing (publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Charleston Business Magazine) in partnership with entrepreneur and author Erik Weir. The top finisher in the competition will win $15,000; second place earns $10,000; the third-place winner will receive $5,000.

Sotelo said the fledgling MPL is currently in its research and development phase, and has focused primarily on the first product in the company’s solutions suite: JumpFinder by MPL.

“We’ve got prototypes developed, so we’re so we’re in the middle of figuring out how to finalize a prototype that will be launched at scale for our first product. The other part is that I’ve been approached by a couple of private-equity investors, and they really like the idea; they want to figure out how we can scale, and we want to choose the right first steps … and the $30K PowerUp challenge would potentially help us do that,” Sotelo noted. “It would help us nail down manufacturing and finalizing prototypes while we have begun the path to producing the suite of products.”