Entrepreneurs / Hardware / POC in Tech / Sports

Former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs wants to disrupt the helmet industry

To design new energy dissipation technology for football and other sports helmets, Springs took inspiration from his newborn son's car seat. Now his Leesburg, Va.-based company, Windpact, is ramping up.

The Windpact leadership team, from left to right: Max Moyer, Maurice Kelly and Shawn Springs. (Courtesy photo)

Former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs had been following the latest research on the dangers of concussions. Then, one day in late 2010, as he was leaving the football stadium, he took a look at his newborn son’s Safety 1st Air Protect car seat.
First, he said, “I was wondering why my wife spent $300 on a car seat.”
After observing the “cool and interesting technology” behind it, Springs thought about its potential to protect the heads of football players.
“It kind of hit me,” he said. “Like the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ moment.”
Springs, who was looking for his next endeavor after the end of his football career (he had been released by the New England Patriots earlier that year), took to the lab.
For nearly two years, he and his friend and business partner Maurice Kelly worked with Air Protect’s engineers, industrial designers and partners, to develop “Crash Cloud.”
The energy dissipation technology spreads the impact of a hit to minimize damages to the head or body.
In May 2011, the team launched Windpact, a company based in Leesburg, Va., with a full-time team of five.
Slowly but surely, they formed a broad coalition of partners and funders, raising about $850,000 behind a handful of patents.

A Windpact prototype. (Courtesy photo)

A Windpact prototype. (Courtesy photo)

Windpact’s board of advisors now includes Harley Davidson CEO Keith Wandell, Air Protect creator David Amirault and Russell Lonser, head of neurological surgery at Ohio State University.
On Tuesday, the company hired former Cooley LLP outside general counsel Max Moyer as COO.
The company is getting ready to launch its first line of helmets for cyclists in the fourth quarter, said Kelly, who acts as VP.
Windpact will embed its technology in new helmets for a slate of bike companies, like Cannondale, Schwinn and Mongoose, Kelly said.
But Springs, who had a four-year run with Washington’s football team, wants to do things in style.
That’s why Windpact enlisted Jose Fernandez, a sculptor who has designed costumes for the X-Men and Batman movie franchises.

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