In the summer of 2010 I was immersed in the World Cup games, following every second of Uruguay’s soccer matches. Something incredible was happening that summer—Uruguay was playing with surprising sharp skills, and for the first time in years they advanced to the semi-finals. As ecstatic as I was over these momentous match wins, I kept wondering why their tactics were suddenly so concise and victorious after many difficult years. I got my answer as Uruguay began their semi-final match. The television camera zoomed in on Uruguay’s national team head coach, Oscar Tabarez, and to my surprise I saw my childhood friend, Krikor Attarian, sitting next to Tabarez and the Uruguay soccer team. I soon found out that Krikor and his friend, Estefano Zammarelli, had created a company called Kizanaro Sport Technology, and they were providing statistical data in real and deferred time for the Uruguay World Cup matches. I couldn’t help but be impressed and proud of such great entrepreneur skills of the then-28-year-old.
Krikor and Estefano attended Universidad ORT Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay, and studied system analysis as part of their undergraduate degrees. The program required a thesis project, and in February 2006 they decided to incorporate their love of soccer (or futbol) into their academic project. The idea was simple: create a high-tech product that would allow a fast, easy, and transparent visualization of all match-related analysis, obtaining performance-based information related to team and individual players via summaries and customized videos. They coined their project “Kizanaro Sport Technology,” and spent 2006 diligently and ardently designing the computer program that would bring their idea to life. Krikor and Estefano defended their thesis at the end of their academic career, and received top marks and praise from the academic panel. Encouraged by the responses, Krikor and Estefano dedicated 100 percent of their time to building a business from their thesis project.
In 2007, the duo started attending technology conventions, such as Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2007, and presenting Kizanaro Sport Technology. Driven by their passion for soccer and their desire to see Uruguay become the leading team of the world, Kirkor and Estefano focused on their first potential client, Oscar Tabarez. Their hard work paid off; in June 2007 Kizanaro Sport Technology’s services was purchased by Uruguay’s national soccer team. Since then, Krikor and Estefano have been traveling with the team to provide them with statistical analysis. During the match half-time, the coach receives a print or web-based report that provides him with a global and precise vision of what happened during the first half. This is useful to confirm the coach’s observations and to convey to the players the aspects that must be improved during the second half.
When I asked Krikor if he knew his company would one day be helping Uruguay advance in the World Cup games, he said, “At that moment, I had no idea where our efforts would lead us! Even today I can’t know what will become of Kizanaro. All I can do is go with the flow and learn from my experiences.”
Kizanaro Sport Technology was accepted by Ingenio, a company that helps young entrepreneurs grow their business, and through them Kizanaro established its first business office. Over the next few years, Kizanaro was sponsored by various business programs and obtained its first business loan from Prosperitas Capital Partner. In 2010, Kizanaro Sport Technology traveled to South Africa with Uruguay’s national team to provide analytical statistical data for the World Cup matches, where Uruguay won 4th place. Kizanaro received an award for the most “Excellent Local Business” by El Banco Interamericano (Inter-American Bank), and participated in Foromic 2010, one of the largest annual events for small businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2011, Kizanaro Sport Technology began to expand their business to different Latin American countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, and El Salvador. Earlier this year, Kizanaro Sport Technology received a recognition award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s TR35 magazine.
Kizanaro Sport Technology has grown from two young entrepreneurs running the company to 15 employees. They have representatives in many Latin American countries, including Colombia, and in Spain. Success doesn’t stop here. Krikor Attarian is currently pursuing an MBA degree to better learn how to manage and grow his business.
This isn’t the first time a thesis project has turned into a successful business, but after learning about Kizanaro’ s success I believe the following saying is true: If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
To learn more about Kizanaro Sport Technology, visit www.kizanaro.com.
Wonder what Uruguayans enjoy for dessert?
Panqueques de Dulce de Leche (Crepes with Dulce de Leche)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 liter milk
- dulce de leche
- Powdered sugar
Step 1: Mix the flour, eggs, and milk in a bowl until you get a semi-liquid batter. Make sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
Step 2: In a medium frying pan, heat a few drops of oil. Once hot, add two large spoonfuls of the batter and spread the batter to cover the entire bottom of the frying pan. It is easier to do this by moving the frying pan in circular motions while holding it from the handle, versus spreading the batter with the spoon. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until the bottom has browned and little air bubbles start forming on the top. Using a spatula, flip the panqueque to cook the other side.
Step 3: Remove the panqueque from the pan, cool slightly, and spread a generous amount of dulce de leche. Roll the panqueque like a scroll, sprinkle with powdered sugar, eat, and enjoy!