Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stealthy helmet-making start-up comes out

Big story on the front page of today's New York Times about Xenith LLC, a start-up company in Boston that has designed a new kind of football helmet that could be especially effective at preventing concussions. "Studies have found that 10 to 50 percent of high school players each season sustain concussions, whose effects can range from persistent memory problems and depression to coma and death," according to the article.

The price of the new helmet will be around $350, more than twice the cost of current helmets. But the initial target market will be individual parents who want to protect their kids, rather than selling a couple dozen to a high school or college team ... an interesting approach.

Company Web site is here. They've raised $10 million in venture capital, most of it from Dan Gilbert, the chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, and the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team.

On the company's board are John Duerden, formerly president and COO of Reebok; former Harvard athletic director Bill Cleary; and former Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti. On the management team are veterans of Puma and Burton Snowboards.

Xenith was founded in 2004 by Vincent Ferrara, a former Harvard quarterback. He wasted no time: 2004 was also the year that Ferrara graduated from Columbia's business and med schools.

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