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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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

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.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

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

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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