This week, we have the honor to interview Bill Donovan, Chief Commercialization Officer at CoolMitt, a pioneer manufacturer of cooling devices for people that are heat stressed.
CoolMitt will be exhibiting and speaking at our NY Sports tech Summit at Citi Field on November 15, so if you want to book a meeting with the CoolMitt team please click on the link below:
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US advance on Baghdad was frequently halted because the troops were becoming overheated and fatigued, and they needed to time to recover. The delays jeopardized operations. Based on the technology effects on human performance, numerous teams from the Stanford Athletic Department began successfully deploying the technology in prototype devices in training and at competitions.
The CoolMitt®device chills water to the ideal cool-but-not-too-cold temperature and circulates it to a cooling pad where you have placed your hand. The palms of your hand are like radiators that exchange heat through the patented CoolMitt® interface.
The company began selling CoolMitts in 2022, and through word-of-mouth gained significant traction. Vasocooling has benefits well beyond sports, with first responders, military, people working in extreme conditions all beginning to reach out to the CoolMitt team, seeking a safety and wellness solution.
Here is a picture of CoolMitt product:
Here is a video that explains how the technology works:
Here’s a video explaining the benefits to performance of CoolMitt’s vasocooling technology:
Here is a testimonial from an experienced Jiu Jitsu fighter using CoolMitt and the benefits of using the product:
CoolMitt is also trusted by 85 pro and college programs (including many NBA teams and players), NFL, MLB, NHL teams, Olympians, Tour de France Teams, UFC fighters, Special Forces – in all, athletes in 40 sports are customers of CoolMitt®.
📝Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on his background, and his company and product. We also discussed the benefits for sports organizations and athletes to use his product. Lastly we talked about his competitive advantage, business model and plans for the next 12 months.
Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Bill:
On his background in the health wellness and performance arena:
“I've spent the last 25 years or so in the health wellness and performance arena. 17 of those years were in Johnson and Johnson where I worked on businesses like Tylenol and Splenda, big household names. I was in Europe for a few years but really I think the turning point for my career came when I was coming back to the US from that overseas assignment and there was a company that J&J had just purchased in Orlando called the Human Performance Institute, and it was unlike any business in J& J. They weren't selling most products that J&J sells which are usually helping people that are sick or injured or trying to get back to health”.
“This was a business that was all about prevention. It was all about proactively helping people become the best version of themselves and it was founded by a performance world renowned performance Psychologist, Dr. Jim L Dair and Dr. Jack Grapple and what they were focusing on predominantly was the mental side of performance”.
“They were taking the examples of the lessons from the world of sport and applying it to more of the general public. In its end it was all about helping people reach their full potential and that's Kind of spirit of what actually led me to the current business, but that's where helping people achieve their full potential. It is something that resonated strongly in the back half of my career”.
On the current issue with heat stress which impacts the performance of athletes:
“I think that the most important thing to recognize is that most folks don't realize that when someone is heat stressed, when they are working out or working in an environment, it's one of the primary limiting factors to their performance”.
“So when you get too hot, the body's fail safe mechanisms kick in, and shuts off muscles. It's protecting against thermal damage. And this can be local. If you do bench press to failure, as muscles burn and you're creating lots of heat and the muscles will stop to protect them or it can be when you're doing something like an endurance event”.
“And we've all seen that where you're going for a long period of time and things are just start shutting up, a cramp is thrown in, or you're falling down. And that's the body mechanism to protect itself against heat”.
On CoolMitt and how the product works:
“So what this device does is accelerate the cooling of the core body temperature. It helps the body do what it's already trying to do. It just uses the unique biological structure of the human body and accelerates that process. And what you get though as a result is you not only get rapid cooling of core body temperature, but as a result of doing that, you can actually do more in the next set or interval”.
“So what it's doing is delaying fatigue, it's improving endurance and it's helping improve overall performance. So on the one hand it is bringing down temperature, but bringing down temperature as a means to an end of performance enhancement end, which is very appealing to a lot of the folks we talked to”.
”And so this is a pad inside a mitt. You literally just need to put your hand in it and rest it on the pad. And through that pad is circulating chilled water that is not only whisking away the heat that is radiating from your hand, but it's cooling the blood that's going back to the heart so you can cool from the inside out. That's the first part of the device”.
“The second part is actually the pump in the regulator which is maintaining the temperature of that water in about 54 to 55 degrees. And the reason I say that number is because what the scientists have learned over time is that if you go much lower than that, you can run the risk of vasoconstricting the blood vessels. So effectively trapping the heat in, not allowing these radiators to work so you get much colder, they vasoconstrict, these things aren't open, they're not releasing the heat they're meant to. And so by taking it to the lowest level before you cross over that threshold, we are maximizing the cooling effect. And so, that pump is regulating the temperature, it's running it up”.
On how teams and athletes use it and the fact that it can be used for just one minute to see the instant effect of the product on the athlete:
“It can be used in just one minute, and you will see the benefits. I mean, the law of the law of heat loss, it's an exponentially declining curve so the biggest bang for the buck, you're going to see the effect in the first couple of minutes. And usually it's been standardized by the scientists to about three minutes”.
“So if you can find three minutes of a break between a set of weightlifting. Also we have folks that do resilient jujitsu, they do five minutes on and they have a two minute break and use it for those two minutes to try and release heat out so they can then do more and delay that fatigue and go further and do more and more sets. So that's how it's being used”.
On how MLB teams use the CoolMitt products in between innings to delay fatigue and play longer in the game:
“So what you'll see is someone going out in between innings and coming in and absolutely we've had numerous examples of that in the major league baseball (MLB). We have teams, and almost half of the teams in major league baseball have some players using this device, usually pitchers and catchers to try and keep their core heat down”.
“And so they can go longer and again, delay that fatigue, improve that endurance over the course of a long nine innings in a game in three hours of heat during the summer day. So baseball is a great example of how our device is being used during games”.
On the fact that NBA, NHL, NCAA teams are using their product today:
“We've seen our product being used in the NBA. We've got some pictures that folks and fans took of an athlete who ended up winning the MVP for the NBA using it last year”.
“Hockey is a little bit harder because it's harder to have the devices on the unit. We certainly had hockey teams in the NHL use it in training. I haven't seen it used during the game. Our device is also used by NCAA football teams. We've got a handful of NFL players using it, and one of the players is from the Atlanta Falcons. There has been an article written about how the Falcons use our product. He's been using it for over a year. And the Falcons said they are taking it to the games”.
On the benefits for teams and athletes to use the CoolMitt product:
“The benefits that folks will see is the rapid reduction and how they experience that as they stop sweating sooner, they form, they feel more refreshed, and ultimately in getting back into the match, they will see that they are less tired. And they can go for longer, and they can do more work output in the time they have”.
“In the case of weightlifters, if you do reps to failure and then you do a second set. let's say after a three minute rest and then after another three minute rest when you do that without the device you see that degradation. But when you use it with a device you see less of a degradation”.
“So if you went from 20 reps down to 12 reps in your second set, you might go from 20 to 16 or 20 to 17 using cooling device. So what we were able to do is that you get a conditioning effect. You're able to do more work in that workout. And that's how you build capacity. And some of the studies have shown us that capacity, that those gains you build actually stay with you”.
On their business model and pricing:
“People can order our product directly from us via phone and but we're predominantly selling through e-commerce through our website The price of the unit is $995. Periodically, you might see a promotion that's out there, but that's kind of where we are. We have coming out next year a next generation version of the product”.
On their plans (e.g. fund raising, new product introduction..) for the next 12 months:
“We are raising money moving into production of our next generation unit. We are certainly raising money here over the next 6 to 12 months, but beyond the raise of money and fund our focus is really on driving awareness and penetrating more broadly outside of just the most elite athletes and the pros but more broadly into collegiate and amateur and a lot of these other sports that are often not in the mainstream, but extraordinary athletes competing. So that's one goal”.
“Secondly we plan to continue to invest in innovation. So that's clearly where we are. We have the next generation version of this product, and we have another another version after that. That is right on its heels. It has a much broader applications. I can't share too much about it just yet. We have some patent filings and it is exciting”.
“Then lastly we're really focusing on building the science and the awareness of this story about how vasocooling as we call it, which is accessing this unique vascular structure of the hand and being able to send cool blood to the heart to cool from the inside out, how this can actually benefit folks and to raise awareness of it”.
“So building the science is important for us, and we've got a handful of studies and we are working with a handful of universities right now. We work with some of the most extraordinary performance experts on the planet. And what we're trying to do is bring this story out to all those performance directors, all those strength and conditioning coaches and more broadly out to those that compete in some of these extreme environments that are competing at the highest level. I think the more we can get awareness and just share the science, the easier it will be to get them in the hands of folks. So that's the goal for us right now”.
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