Prairie Portrait: Brian Zimmer of EliteForm
Name: Brian Zimmer
Bio: Young entrepreneur leveraging a background in both business and technology. Interests include reinventing education, investing, sports, photography, running, and volunteering.
Title: General Manager at EliteForm
Residence: Lincoln, Neb.
Intro music: "All Along the Watchtower," by Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica version)
Silicon Prairie News: Since the official announcement of Nebraska Global's funding of EliteForm in January, what are some of the most exciting developments you've overseen?
Brian Zimmer: The most exciting part of a startup is the formation of a cohesive team and delivery of a new solution that makes a difference in people’s lives. Our patent-pending platform continues to gain market traction and is now in use by major programs including Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida State and Kansas. EliteForm continues to build connections in the industry and has exhibited our product at conventions organized by NSCA, AFCA, NSCAA, NBASCA, CSCCa and THSCA.
This week we’re launching a stand-alone StrengthPlanner software package for institutions that are seeking to improve the management of training and are not yet ready for our full tracking solution. In the fall, EliteForm is sponsoring a Design Studio project with the Raikes School at UNL. Our team is excited to leverage their talents for continued growth in 2013 while simultaneously developing the next generation of entrepreneurs in our community.
SPN: What has working with the University of Nebraska athletic department meant to EliteForm?
BZ: The University of Nebraska has been a strategic partner since the beginning. We developed a motion capture solution as a R&D project within Nebraska Global and worked closely with Nebraska’s coaching team to identify valuable applications. Once the concept was vetted, their facilities served as our real-world lab during development. Every time we released a new build of our software and hardware, they provided feedback and found new ways to strain our solution. We could then continue to iterate the solution with accurate direction. As we launched the solution, we were confident that it would provide real value to athletes and coaches — a critical element in the highly connected and referral-driven athletic market.
On behalf of everyone at EliteForm, I would like to publicly thank everyone within the University of Nebraska who has contributed to this solution and our success.
SPN: After graduating from the Raikes School, you returned to work for several years as an instructor for your alma mater's Design Studio. What drove your decision to do that?
BZ: As graduation approached, I was an entrepreneur attempting to scale a technology consulting business. When the Director, Dr. David Keck, approached me about a half-time position with the latitude to make substantial changes, I saw it as an opportunity where I was uniquely qualified to make a difference. My classmates and I had frequently discussed how Design Studio could evolve to reach its full potential. This was my opportunity improve the experience for future Raikes students and give back to an institution that had substantially invested in me.
SPN: You cite reinventing education as one of your primary interests. With higher education considered by many to be ripe for disruption, what do you think a typical college education will look like in 20 years?
BZ: The world of education will be flattened into an efficient market — we’re seeing the beginnings of this with services such as Udacity, Coursera and edX. A student will attend an institution and select the best classes from educational providers around the world. Private industry will emerge as a stronger partner in education out of necessity to compete in the global economy. This will take the form of creating course content and structured work experiences that develop and identify future hires. Although this may imply an increased emphasis on teaching practical over theoretical, the increased relevance will engage students to learn more theory when reinforced with application.
Credible virtual-only educational organizations will thrive while brick-and-mortar institutions will differentiate by the collaborative and cultural experience they can offer. Universities will undertake an increasingly facilitative role, assisting students in matching their career goals with educational experiences. This facilitative role will require a new form of instructor who can stitch together content to teach students interdisciplinary problem solving. Degree programs will evolve to become much more organic and flexible. Since students will completely tailor the experience to meet their career goals, education will be aligned with the key elements that drive the "millennial" to success. At the end of the day, a student will rely on a portfolio that showcases their true skills and abilities. Certification of education will fall increasingly to the true constituents, the student and potential employers.
SPN: As a runner and sports enthusiast yourself, what are three sports tech tools (beyond your own company's) that you find most useful, and why?
BZ: I find the Fitbit to be the tech tool that I use the most as it can capture a variety of metrics in my daily activities and running. With its open platform, I’m able to see activity level, distances traveled, sleep, weight, and nutritional information all in one location and captured from the applications and devices I choose to use. Since I’m a competitive and data-driven person, the wealth of information available from my own progress and comparisons to other individuals within the Fitbit community help motivate and hold me accountable.
In addition to the Fitbit, the other two devices that I add while training are a MP3 player and Garmin Forerunner. I still use a Microsoft Zune with its lightweight profile and subscription-based service making it affordable to frequently rotate my running playlists. The Forerunner gives me great real-time feedback on actual speeds and distances traveled.
Credits: Photo courtesy of Zimmer.
Prairie Portraits: To learn more about this series, see our introduction post, or visit our archives for past Prairie Portraits. To suggest an individual for a future Prairie Portrait, contact email@example.com.
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