The Seattle based start-up company Vicis once raised $85 million from a combined 400 investors when rolling out of the University of Washington in 2014. Still, in late 2019, a sudden financial crisis put them on the verge of collapse – with no money in the bank and few options to turn to.
Vicis was a success story that nobody expected to struggle. Despite entering a highly competitive helmet market, they received support from doctors, military experts, the Seattle business community, and the NFL itself.
The company ambitions were high from the onset, with goals to commercialize their technology from the University of Washington’s engineering department and sell the helmet design that lowers the impact of football head and spinal injuries.
Safety within professional football has been an ongoing problem since its birth 150 years ago, with concussions and research towards on-field blows leading to long-term brain damage. In 2013, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement concerning concussion injuries, and the rules have since been altered to make the game safer.
The original ZERO1 helmet design was highly respected. Current and former NCAA and NFL players like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Alex Smith, Roger Staubach, and Jerry Rice all became investors, doubting the comeback of Vicis should’ve never entered our minds.
Even Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was found wearing the helmet at the 2020 Super Bowl finals. NFL picks forums can speculate on Super Bowl performances knowing that players receive the most ground-breaking health & safety technology. Complete fitness will make a particular teams betting odds simple to line, but should a players overall statistics become affected due to an injury, bookmakers are presented with a difficult task of anticipating an outcome with a change in the starting line-up.
Vicis: Rises from the Dead
Business insiders touted the downfall and potential liquidation of Vicis that their market share focus and a lack of profit-making started the initial problems. The company closed and laid off over 100 employees at the end of December 2019.
In 2020, an investment firm from New York City purchased the assets of Vicis out of receivership for a $3 million price tag and eventually, a new company was created. They assisted the return of original Vicis engineers and marketers who helped build a second version of the helmet – ZERO2.
Vicis’ product development chief, Jason Neubauer, prides himself on the ongoing mission of protecting footballers and evolving the safety of contact sports.
“We wanted to do it for those people that left all their blood, sweat, and tears to get us to where we’re at,” Neubauer said. “It’s been gratifying to feel like we’re completing that mission that we all started on together.”
New ownership under Innovatus Capital Partners saw the firm establish an LLC called Certor Sports to purchase goods brands, including those that have struggled during the global pandemic.
Innovatus aren’t new to the football game; they possess over $1.5 billion in assets and have previously invested $18 million into the football helmet market and utilized Certor to purchase the remaining shares in Schutt – the NFL leader in the helmet industry.
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Innovatus are now using Schutt’s manufacturing talents to help produce the Vicis helmet.
Since the launch of ZERO2, Vicis has received positive feedback from both players and equipment managers. It’s 15% lighter than the ZERO1, comfortability has improved, and players field of view has is now enhanced.
Not only does the ZERO2 rank No.1 in Virginia Tech’s helmet safety ratings, but Vicis has also managed to lower the price ($669 onwards), whereas the ZERO1 initially sold for $1,500.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented countless challenges for sporting goods manufacturers, but the grind continued.
“It has been a challenging environment, and we expect some rocky roads ahead,” said Jeff Holland, vice president at Innovatus. “However, we’re confident that there is a tremendous desire to return to competition, a never-ending demand for better-performing products, and we expect an epic bounce in activity as the vaccine rolls out, and restrictions continue to ease.”
Vicis will continue developing football and additional sports products in the future.
“We are excited about the opportunities that come from the intersection of health and safety, technology, and sports,” Holland added.
Vicis: Seattle is Home
Vicis will preserve its Seattle presence two years after its 2019 collapse.
Certor confirmed the Vicis R&D office in Seattle will remain, where ten employees will be joined with an additional 4/5 co-workers throughout the next twelve months.
In addition, Certor will open a 230,000 square-foot headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana. Two hundred fifty workers at the facility also assist in the operations of Schutt.
30% of NFL players are wearing Vicis or Schutt helmets. Certor expects this number to steadily grow as their innovative team continues revolutionizing healthy and safety sporting goods associated with the brand.