UGA graduate Ty Frix started working on a health monitoring application in 2012, forming the core structure of what would become the fitness software company, Ichor.
The decision to stay at UGA to pursue a graduate degree and play one more year of football enabled Frix to make his concept a reality, along with co-founder Andrew Johnson during an entrepreneurial business course.
“We woke up one morning, looked around, and Apple and Fitbit had come out with watches that did what we were doing,” said Frix.
Instead of trying to keep up with the corporate giants, Frix and his team decided to ask their customers directly what they needed.
“And they told us they didn’t really need a high-price, medical monitoring system for college athletics. They needed a low cost, easy-to-use system that their kids would wear. One that would monitor their training loads, how hard they’re working in a practice, and then how well they’re recovering out of the practice,” Frix said.
A new focus for Ichor came together. They developed an app that would allow users to access the health data of many participants at once, and in one place. Coaches could monitor all of their athletes. Medical professionals could monitor their patients. Online physical education teachers could monitor their students.
“We are an internet-of-things company. We do data aggregation and analytics. We are device agnostic, and we work in a lot of different vertical markets,” Frix said.
Being device agnostic means that Ichor doesn’t have to build its own hardware to be of service to its users. Simply put, Ichor obtains data from Fitbit on specific individuals that is then loaded into the Ichor database, ultimately ending up in the app for users.
“Right now, we are trying to build solutions that are specific to each one of the verticals because so far, we’ve built one platform and it has worked in all these different verticals. But we know with a little bit of tweaking, we can build specific platforms for every vertical,” Frix said.
This year, after being approached by senior living communities, Ichor has been changing the senior health market. By providing its service to senior living communities, Ichor has helped seniors that want a new way to monitor their health and to also allow families to keep up-to-date with their resident members.
"We woke up one morning, looked around, and Apple and Fitbit had come out with watches that did what we were doing."
– Ty Frix
According to Business Insider, the growth in the wearables market lies largely in the opportunities in the healthcare system, estimating a potential increase of global shipments at a compound annual growth rate of 24.8 percent over the next five years.
One of the clients, Garden Plaza in Lawrenceville, uses Fitbits and Ichor to motivate and monitor residents.
“It has gotten them motivated to exercise more, and for the residents that now have Fitbits, they’re walking a lot more because they’re trying to meet their step goals and paying attention to their heart rates,” said Michele Tabor, director of recreational services at Garden Plaza.
Nate Jones, who is responsible for sales for Ichor, joined the team in early 2016 after meeting Frix through the football team at UGA during his undergraduate studies. Jones is now focusing on expanding Ichor’s services to athletic teams, senior living facilities and online course professors.
“With technology, the first objection we face is always about the user being able to easily use the devices and our software. We have to prove the simplicity of Ichor and make it easy for the residents, for the caregivers and for the family,” Jones said.
Ichor Sports now has a permanent location at West Hancock Avenue in Athens.
“The only way to stick around as a startup, in most cases, is to rapidly evolve. We have tried to rapidly evolve,” Frix said. “Sometimes because we have to, and sometimes because we think we need to change and move forward.”