Meet our all star cast.
Founder, Board Vice Chair; Business Development Executive and Sports Technology Startup Leader
Marilou McFarlane has worked passionately building sportstech businesses for much of the last decade and now consults for startups in the space as the leader of SportsTechWorks. She was president of STATSports North America – Soccer, and introduced the APEX Athlete Series consumer product to U.S. Soccer’s ecosystem of 4M youth players. Prior to joining STATSports which is based in N. Ireland, she was CEO of venture-funded CoachNow (previously named Edufii), and guided this mobile platform for connected coaching to successful merger/acquisition in 2017. Another successful sportstech experience was as VP Business Development for the SaaS platform SportsBoard, leading the NCAA channel’s growth, and securing partnerships with U.S. Soccer, IMG Academy, Perfect Game Baseball, NBA Scouting and others across all sports. As founder/CEO of Vivo Girls Sports, McFarlane and her team created a digital media property that was rapidly accepted globally by young women 13-24 years old, Olympians and advertisers alike, and inspired the launch of espnW.
McFarlane also enjoyed many years working in integrated media and marketing for CBS and as a consultant, driving growth and generating meaningful revenue working with marquee brands and advertisers. A former UNC cross-country and 3:06 marathon runner, she is a natural and enthusiastic leader, as well as the happy wife of a fire captain and mother of 2 illustrious daughters, who each captained UNC women’s soccer championship teams and went on to play professionally.
B.A. at the University of Maryland, double majoring in Sport and Society as well as French. MBA and a Master of Sport Business Management from the University of Central Florida. This fall she is an incoming Ph.D. candidate at Temple University focusing on Business Administration and Sports Marketing. Her WiST Fellowship project was data science and sponsorship research at Turnkey Intelligence, a company within MarketCast Group that delivers best-in-class analytics, data-driven research and consumer understanding to sports teams, leagues, agencies, sponsors and brands. She created an SQL server, with analysis of over twenty years of extensive sponsorship data files (project and clients) to develop a more comprehensive benchmarking and data sourcing for partners. This is a full aggregation process to create a new narrative around data and research finding that communicates decision making processes in the sports sponsorship field.
Rising sophomore at Auburn University currently focusing on Nutrition Wellness with an eye towards a career in sports technology, especially working with NCAA D1 football programs. She interned with Learn to Win Sports in Nashville for her WiST Fellowship. Learn to Win Sports was founded by two Stanford Graduate School of Business students, one a former UNC basketball player, and is in use by over 400 NCAA football and basketball programs. She analyzed data from their first platform considered a “Rosetta Stone” of playbook learning that converts playbook and game plan materials into an interactive learning experience. Her data analysis provided coaches insight and analytics into what their players understand and what they do not. Her project included UI/UX analysis and improvements, setting up a CRM system, SEO, social media, and other forms of tech-based marketing exposure.
Senior at the University of North Carolina (2019) majoring in Peace, War and Defense with a second major in Public Policy and a minor in Education. Her WiST fellowship project was the U.S. Army Special Forces Strategy Bridge. She worked at Camp Mackall during the training and selection program for the Special Forces which is 30-day trial of physical, mental and emotional aptitude. Her project focused on sports performance outside of the traditional sport environment. Trainees’ uniforms are equipped with GPS trackers so that leadership can monitor their location, the total distance traveled, and the speed in which they are traveling, interpreting data to aid human performance. This training group often consults with professional teams or sports performance conferences as they are focused on perfecting human performance, preventing injury, and lowering rehab times.
WiST Associate and 2019 WiST Fellow
B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a Vanderbilt University PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering. Her project, “Wearable Tech Solutions for Overuse Injury Prevention in Runners” used Brooks’ “Run Signature” as a baseline for habitual motion to review running biomechanics and explore natural habitual joint motion. She quantified natural deviations in habitual motion to assess injury with support from her Vanderbilt sponsor and the research team on-site at Brooks Running in Seattle. She explored the use of wearables (e.g. pressure sensing insoles, inertial measurement units (IMUs), muscle activity sensors, etc.) for identifying when runners deviate from habitual motion paths–a promising avenue for notifying runners when they are at heightened risk of injury.
University of North Carolina, Junior, Majoring in Economics with Minors in Sports Administration and History. Fiona, a medically-retired student-athlete at Carolina, worked under the guidance of a successful Senior Experience Strategist at a major ad agency in San Francisco to develop influencer-based marketing strategies for sports tech startups, including WiST. She identified women and men leaders who not only excel in sports tech, but are also champions for diversity in the arena. She worked to identify and elevate individuals in the sports tech community, speak to them on their own territory through informed messaging and mobilize them to also help raise awareness for WiST and its members. Using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, she cultivated relationships with the micro-influencers in the sports tech community and current student athletes. Her efforts expanded our own influence and awareness, with the mission of changing the ratio in sports tech and driving growth opportunities for women at all stages of their careers.
Harvard Business School, MBA 1st Year. Anna found us organically through her relationships at the United States Olympic Committee as well as by following the news on SportTechie. She completed her undergraduate business degree summa cum laude at the University of Minnesota. She has worked for the United States Olympic Committee, USA Boxing, and USA Weightlifting, and is an avid yoga instructor. For her fellowship she worked with the team at N3XT Sports, a sports consulting firm based in Barcelona that aims to help organizations fulfill their technology and innovation needs globally. She focused on developing their brand image and establishing thought leadership identities for the founders. Anna’s previous Accenture consulting experience, her commitment to finding her own leadership role in sports technology and the deep resources and support available at Harvard Business School positioned her perfectly to deliver impactful results for the illustrious team at N3XT Sports.
Tapiwa Karen Tafa
Loyola Marymount University, Junior, Majoring in Applied Information Management Systems. Karen is a native of Francistown, Botswana. At home she excelled academically and was captain of her sports teams while pursuing her passion as a singer/songwriter, which ultimately drew her to LA. Her social media prowess is evident from her own social media following on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Her WiST project focused on a promising LA-based sports tech startup, KPERFORM, which offers the patented Precision Form Training™ (PFT) technique to athletes and singers to dramatically enhance performance. While developing the company’s website and learning about mobile app development, Karen also built influence and thought leadership for the company’s founder, an accomplished strength and conditioning coach, opera singer, and professor at LMU. She applied data analytics to assess impact through measurable outcomes.