How Kobe Bryant Made Hyperice's Anthony Katz an Entrepreneur

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
How Kobe Bryant Made Hyperice's Anthony Katz an Entrepreneur
Courtesy of Anthony Katz

Anthony Katz didn’t mean to become an entrepreneur. But a chance meeting with Kobe Bryant in 2011 turned his “art project” into a game-changer for his career and the world of sports tech.

On this episode of PCH Driven, Katz talks about his journey from high school history teacher and basketball coach to founding Hyperice.

Katz says he loves being on the court himself, but as he aged, he found recovering from aches and pains took longer than what he was used to.

Not wanting to let go of his love for playing basketball, Katz researched what professionals used to recover and soon began to ice his joints in the same way as pro-players— with bags of ice saran-wrapped to his legs.

But Katz found the method pro-players’ used was too messy. Instead, he cut neoprene and put medical bags of ice inside. His interesting approach caught the eye of Kobe Bryant’s trainer — and a friend of Katz’s — who told him that Bryant wanted to see his “ice project.”

“The first time I met him, it was just like, ‘Whoa’. I didn’t really feel I had anything worthy really showing him. It was just this thing I was trying to do,” Katz says. But Bryant saw promise in Katz’s ice project.

“Let me use it for a while and I’ll give you some feedback,” Bryant suggested.

And so, Katz became, in his words, an “accidental adventurer entrepreneur.” With a laundry list of feedback on how to improve the product from Bryant, Katz moved the ball forward.

“I have to make this product perfect for [Bryant], because I knew if I made it for him, that’d be good enough for everybody else. Because his standards were super high, and his focus on what he would use was really high,” Katz says. “He’s like, ‘Well it took you a while, but, you know, you actually got here'.”

Bryant was all in. Meanwhile, Katz “literally hustled” to get the product to big-time athletes like LeBron James.

Eventually, Katz began to research medical devices used for recovery, and says they were “big, expensive devices you would never want in your home.” With this in mind, he turned his attention to designing another Hyperice product that was portable, modern-looking, and provided quick relief during recovery. He took elements from these “super outdated” machines like their use of vibrational frequencies and implemented them into foam rollers.

“I think I'm an opportunist in that I got a window into an industry that was outdated, that wasn't speaking to the athlete. It was medical device companies making rehabilitation products when athletes really wanted recovery products,” says Katz. “And so I just listened and was able to put a team around me that figured out how to make some really great products that [are] now just table stakes in every training room in the world.”

Today, Hyperice can be found on top-tier athletes including Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes and Amanda Nunes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement & Production Intern Jojo Macaluso contributed to this post.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Inflation Reduction Act Officially Passes the Senate, Revamping Electric Vehicle Pricing

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The Capitol at Sunset
Courtesy of Mike Stoll via Unsplash

Over the weekend Senate Democrats officially passed the Inflation Reduction Act in what amounts to President Biden’s biggest legislative win so far. The bill includes a host of broad-spectrum economic policy changes and completely reworks the subsidies for electric vehicle purchases. The law still has to get through The House, but this should be a much smaller hurdle.

dot.LA covered the bill in depth as it neared the goal line at the end of July, and the final iteration doesn’t change much. To recap:

1.The rebate total stays $7,500 but is broken into two $3,750 chunks tied to how much of the car and its battery are made in the US.

2.The manufacturer caps are eliminated, meaning even EV companies that have sold more than 20,000 vehicles are once again eligible.

3.Rebates will now only apply to cars priced below $55,000 and trucks/SUVs below $80,000

With the new system placing a renewed emphasis on American manufacturing and assembly, the calculus of which vehicles cost how much is still being worked out, but the most comprehensive list I’ve seen has come from reddit user u/Mad691.

In addition to the EV rebate program, the bill also includes a number of economic incentives aimed at curbing emissions and accelerating the country’s transition to electric vehicles.

There’s $20 billion earmarked for the construction of new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities and $3 billion will go help electrify the USPS delivery fleet. Another $3 billion will go to electrifying the nation’s ports. Then there’s $1 billion for zero-emission trucks and buses.

Now that the bill is about to be codified into law, VC investment in the sector might heat up in response to the new money flowing in. “I do anticipate more climate funds standing up to invest in EV infrastructure,” says Taj Ahmad Eldridge, a partner at Include Ventures and the Director at CREST an ARES Foundation initiative with JFF/WRI that aims to provide training for people in the new green economy. “However, we do see funds being a little more thoughtful on diligence and taking their time to fund the right investment.”

The sentiment seems similar across Southern California. ChargeNet CEO and Co-Founder Tosh Dutt says the Inflation Reduction Act “super charges” the company’s effort to build infrastructure across the country.

“This investment accelerates the transition to renewable energy and gives companies like ChargeNet Stations the confidence to expand more rapidly, especially in underserved communities,” says Dutt.

For Rivian, the bill’s passage has left would-be customers in a sort of limbo. Because many of their models will exceed the $80,000 cap for trucks and SUVs after options, customers who’ve preordered are scrambling to sign buyers’ agreements to take advantage of the current EV rebate scheme which doesn’t include price caps. As I noted in the previous article, if you buy an EV before the bill is signed, you’re eligible for the current rebate system even if the vehicle isn’t delivered until 2023. Any existing contracts under the current system will remain valid.

With the legislation seemingly on the fast track to become law, it’s unclear whether or not Rivian will expedite the purchasing process to allow customers to sign the buyers’ agreement before the new rebate program becomes the law of the land. Tick tock!