When competing in high level sports, athletes experience potential gaps in the market first-hand and can turn this into a business opportunity. Chris Terkelsen is a great example of such successful transition.
Besides being an overall World Cup winner, number 1 in the World Ranking (1998) and World Champion in relay (1997), Chris was part of the Danish national team in orienteering from 1992 to 2007. During his active years, he successfully acquired a degree in International Business at the Aarhus University Business School with semesters spent abroad in Sweden and Singapore.
Turning frustrations into solutions
Even at the highest level, there was a lack of properly visualizing the drama and excitement of their beloved sport and giving it the attention it deserved. This deep-felt frustration turned into a dream and vision that he shared with a couple of friends: using technology to visualize the performance, tactics and drama of orienteering to the audience in real-time for an otherwise hidden and inaccessible sport. Born in 2005 was TracTrac, leaders in gps-based live tracking in sports, with Chris as co-founder and Managing Director.
Learning to adapt
Besides the competences he developed during his studies and through work experiences, the determination, tenacity, hard work and long-term view required to succeed in high-level sports turned out to be valuable assets when starting a company.
One of the difficult aspects in the transition from high level athlete to entrepreneur was the difference with regards to goal-setting and planning.
“As an athlete your goal is usually clear and well defined, e.g., medal at the next World Championship. As an entrepreneur, especially in the beginning, the target may be moving and changing frequently, and you must be prepared to pivot and change your goals based on what you learn as you go along.”
Another main learning point for Chris was to recognize blind spots. It was a challenge to understand where the team lacked knowledge and act on it because sometimes they were not even aware of the things they did not know. It taught him to be more open to the process of learning and searching and adapting to the challenge.
We are happy for Chris to share his insights with us and wish him all the best for his mission to be World Champions of live tracking of hard-to-follow sports.