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SFU golfer and coaches take big swing at training with startup One Iota Performance
When Ryan Stolys graduates this summer, he’ll celebrate a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, a proud career with the SFU Golf Team, and a thriving start-up business that links to his passions as well as his coaches—who are partners in the venture.
As incubator clients of SFU’s Coast Capital Venture Connection, SFU head golf coach Matthew Steinbach, Assistant and Mental Skills Coach Kim Senecal, and Stolys have turned their golf training concept—One Iota Performance—into the start of a business success. Their goal is to help golf athletes consistently improve and achieve their best performances.
The idea grew while Stolys was on the golf team and developed an analytics system to track his golf results. The attention to detail is what drew him to golf back in middle school and his approach of “only getting out what you put in” with golf has stuck with him ever since. “I was lucky enough to have some very good coaches who hammered into me the idea of setting goals and targets to work towards,” he says.
That rang true when he began working with Steinbach and Senecal, who encouraged him in focusing on mental performance. “Born in the early pandemic as a better way to track statistics, Ryan’s education in computer engineering partnered perfectly with our coaching desire to examine and influence the habits and behaviours of high-performance golfers,” says Steinbach.
Their strategy of habit-tracking and journaling was combined with Ryan’s analytics, and they saw the benefits of getting “one iota better” each day. The approach improved results for the SFU golf team, and they began to consider sharing it with others.
As Steinbach puts it, “the combination of quantifiable golf statistics along with the subjective self-assessment and awareness of habit tracking offers an unmatched analysis found anywhere in golf.”
Through their connections as golf professionals, the entrepreneurs are currently working with 40 users on their One Iota platform, with plans to grow their startup through conference presentations, expanding their social media presence, and potentially sponsoring junior golfing events.
Winning the top idea award in SFU’s 2022 Coast Capital Venture Idea Prize competition gave them direct entry into the Coast Capital Venture Connection incubation process where they received mentorship, access to work and meeting space, and other business development services. This allowed the founders to turn One Iota into a service to help other athletes achieve their goals using their system.
Stolys was also awarded the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship eCoop grant—$10,000 in salary to develop the venture over a co-op semester, with additional mentoring, and has worked full-time to develop One Iota as a result. Within the next five years, he sees One Iota as an “authority” for mental sports training.
“Without these opportunities, I wouldn’t be a student at SFU this year and I would have been working on something else and not working on my own venture. These programs single-handedly helped us to put One Iota into the place that it is today and I would 100 per cent recommend SFU’s innovation programs to anyone who has an idea that they want to explore.”