2017 SEP Competition Profile - Third Place
Isis Ashford, a recent graduate of Prairie View A&M University, is no stranger to the struggles of an athlete.
“Being a former athlete, I understand emotionally how much it weighs on you when you really feel like you’re bringing it all,” says Ashford. “You’re bringing your time and effort and you're sacrificing and you’re still not making the cut.”
Her company Xplosion works to help athletes who want to improve but are not sure how to train differently. Through the use of a mobile app and wearable sensors, Xplosion empowers athletes to reach their full potential through their own performance data. Xplosion’s technology is currently tailored to baseball players with plans to expand to other sports in the future.
“We developed wearable sensors to detect the athlete’s acceleration, which is translated to their speed and the impact angle they make contact with their bat and the baseball,” says Ashford. “All of these features go into a learning algorithm to make athletes more consistent.”
An engineering student, Ashford is used to being one of few women in a room and the only woman on her team. Ashford was drawn to apply to WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) to equip herself with the tools needed to succeed in a male-dominated industry.
“I had a couple friends that attended in previous years that said it was a phenomenal experience and that the women that you meet will change your life,” says Ashford. “I’m so thankful for WBENC and it was great to see so many women empowering and supporting each other.”
Some of the most supportive people Ashford met through WBENC were her own SEP mentors, Donavan Casana of Shell and Brenda Loube of Corporate Fitness Works.
“I could not believe I had Brenda, she was so amazing,” says Ashford. “She was really like a life coach when I was there and her support was so genuine and so sincere. I knew she was willing to get up at 7:00 a.m. and listen to my pitch and see how much I revised it. She was so relatable. It really just made me so comfortable.”
Apart from her phenomenal mentoring experience, Ashford credits SEP with teaching her how to scale Xplosion.
“The workshops were about things I felt like I was missing,” says Ashford. “I think they gave a lot of clarity on what we should do if we’re approaching things like how to scale your business, how to talk to your counterparts, and how to leverage your situation in order to scale.”
Her entire SEP experience cumulated with pitch day where she and her fellow SEP participants only have 90 seconds to impress a panel of judges and the audience with their business plan. Despite her fear of public speaking, Ashford found the pitch day experience to be supportive and empowering.
“Initially when I came I was really about winning the competition and getting the money,” says Ashford. “But as the days went by, it was really about helping other women. When you get to know someone and hear their story, you really hope they win.”
Ashford plans on using her third place prize money to protect Xplosion’s signature technology.
“We do have a couple of algorithms and procedures we want to patent, so this will be our first deposit to make sure that happens,” says Ashford.
As Xplosion continues to seek funding and expand their pilot program, Ashford won’t easily forget the amazing women she met through WBENC.
“My conference experience was everything that I thought it would be and everything that I had heard,” says Ashford. “It is about relationships, it is about getting to know women and not just their business, but getting to know what keeps them up at night and what drives them to succeed.”