Silicon Valley Goes Skydiving: Sigma

Sigma Team

Somewhere in the quiet corner of a DZ lies a graveyard filled with various ideas, concepts and businesses that once promised to change the sport. The question everyone has been asking is who is Sigma, why are they here and will they end up in the idea graveyard? 

From what I’ve learned, I don’t think Sigma will become one of those companies. This is a great idea.  

Because our industry has seen so many people with million dollar ideas and little self-awareness, the buy-in to embrace Sigma has been a little tepid. A “let’s sit back and observe mentality” has been at play and I’ll count myself as one of those people. 

To begin with, I didn’t fully understand what Sigma did, why they were engaging with the skydiving industry and how they could be profitable while gaining everyone’s trust by giving their product away. When something looks too good to be true, it usually is. 

Sunpath Products

This blog is proudly sponsored by Sun Path Products.

Having seen some rumblings online by various DZO’s, I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with one of the company’s founders, Dylan Avatar to ask some poignant questions and get a better grip on what SIGMA is actually all about. 

What was supposed to be a 45-minute conversation turned into 2 hours and ten minutes of an animated diatribe that left me awestruck. 

Sigma is a well thought out piece of technology that brings big value to everyone that uses it. The vision is so grand that for the first time, the biggest names in venture capital investing from Silicon Valley have entered the skydiving industry by backing Sigma to the tune of $4.8 million bucks… and that’s just to get them started. 

If you’ve not been paying attention to Sigma… it’s time. These guys are serious players doing things at lightspeed. The concept of Sigma only came to fruition 2.5 years ago. From concept to present day, the company has raised millions and have won the trust of the USPA and other international parachute federations… no small feat. 

Below: An example of who’s adopting Sigma and how it’s being used. Click each image to expand.

 

The Start – A Boys Trip To Belize

Most great ideas solve pain points and that’s exactly the way Sigma got its start. Sigma co-founder Tomer Kagan and 20 of his friends all got together in Belize for ten days of SCUBA diving, rafting, and spelunking. 

While checking into a dive shop, everyone had to present their plastic PADI (the member organization for SCUBA) dive cards at check-in and it was a less than efficient process. It also seemed crazy that if someone didn’t have their card, they wouldn’t be able to dive. In that moment came the $4.8 million dollar question that sparked this whole thing: 

“Why in this day and age with all of this technology was anyone having to present a plastic card to prove anything?”

The answer to that question is Sigma. 

Sigma lets organizations create and send digital merits (or in our case ratings) to acknowledge and preserve every experience in a single space. 

Sigma-Infographic

The brilliance of Sigma for our industry is it brings value to all players within the industry: The USPA, equipment manufacturers, DZ’s and skydivers. 

Check it out: 

The USPA – Using Sigma, the USPA has the ability to issue licenses and instructor ratings digitally to its members. Conversely, if the member organization needs to pull a rating or license, they can do so digitally without that instructor actually holding a hard copy which could be used fraudulently. The added plus is the reduction of snail mail which is costly and outdated. 

Bottom line is USPA’s partnership with Sigma brings our membership database into the cutting edge of technology supported by some super smart engineers in California. 

Dylan Avatar Merits

In this example of a Sigma profile, one can get a sense of Avatar’s activities in the sport in one view. His merits show his USPA licenses, the camps he’s participated in and where he jumps all in one place.

Manufacturers – Similar to the USPA, manufacturers now have the ability to issue or withdraw ratings making the management of ratings much easier. 

The DZ – Sigma is a great marketing tool for DZs. Just as the USPA can issue ratings and licenses, DZ’s can issue digital certificates of achievements (merits) to their students for achieving their tandems, completing AFF or their A-licenses. All of this can easily be shared to social media which showcases a DZs’ branding. 

This is much more valuable than the printed certificates of achievement DZ’s are printing out every week. What makes this extra cool is customers can attach photography to their merits making the merit badge interactive. 

Aside from a great marketing opportunity, manifest can easily verify visiting jumpers much quicker than having to login to USPA’s website. 

Skydivers – Our lives are on our phones, why shouldn’t our USPA membership be there too as well as our other certifications in other sports like SCUBA diving, paragliding or even our golf handicap cards all in one place. Much easier and much more practical.

Burble Manifest Software

This blog is proudly sponsored by Burble Software.

 

The Big Vision

The vision of Sigma is to expand into multiple verticals – meaning being the tool for other organizations to use for their members just as the USPA is using it for ours. Major international federations have adopted it (to be announced soon) as have other organizations outside of skydiving. 

If Sigma can be utilized by hundreds or thousands of organizations and be used by its members – now you grasp the scale. It could well become like LinkedIn as the online destination for people to showcase their merits in every capacity. (If this thing scales, wouldn’t this be a perfect acquisition by LinkedIn… just sayin’). 

Like many tech companies, the future success of Sigma will be dependent on the relationships they build, competitors that enter the space and a little bit of luck. Nothing is certain, but the future looks very bright for Sigma and I predict will soon be used by all the skydiving associations throughout the world. 

About James La Barrie

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and changing a company's service culture. Originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua, James melds his approach of marketing and delivering elite service together as one. James has injected his 'service marketing' approach throughout his career to transform companies from good to great.

2 thoughts on “Silicon Valley Goes Skydiving: Sigma”

  1. Excellent article! Well written and makes potentially complicated material easy to understand and fun to learn about thanks!

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