One night, Salmon Arm’s Lance Heron woke up from a dream with a brilliant idea: wearable football technology that empowers instant play calling from the sidelines. Fast forward and Armilla Tech, with the help of Export Navigator, saw nearly $500,000 in sales in 2023.

Today, coaches using Armilla no longer need to call players to the sidelines to reference a playing sheet. Instead, they’re empowered to make split-second decisions using a tablet that routes information to Armilla wristbands worn by players—a fully-encrypted system that requires no WiFi or Bluetooth.

Breaking barriers

Soon after development of the prototype, Armilla Tech started outfitting teams across British Columbia. As Armilla Tech’s provincial sales grew, Heron was eager to explore growth opportunities outside of the province. After connecting with Export Navigator and working with their export advisor, Amber, the company made their first international sale, leading Lance to set his sights on entering more leagues in the United States and overseas.

Now, two years later and with a signed contract that will see Armilla Tech in the 2024 Hula Bowl—the premiere college football All-Star game featuring the top 100 senior athletes— Heron is thrilled to have surpassed his expansion goals.

“It’s been exciting, but it’s also a lot of work. We’re just keeping our noses down and staying focused,” Heron explains. “We’re redesigning the system to make it about half the size of what it was, now that we’re also approved for bowl games and NCAA baseball and softball.”

With business expansion, unexpected benefits of Armilla’s technology were revealed. Soon after penetrating the U.S. market, Heron got in contact with schools and universities interested in Armilla Tech to break down barriers for those with different abilities.

“A university in the US reached out to us. They have a hearing-impaired player on their soft pitch team who can now receive all the calls that other players would and always knows what’s going on, thanks to this technology,” says Heron. “It can make a big difference.”

Touching down in other markets

Heron is laser-focused on expanding Armilla’s game-changing technology further into large international markets that promise a great return.

When Armilla Tech first took on global expansion, Amber supported Heron in navigating export requirements and import restrictions. “Amber helped us develop our pitch and put us in touch with border brokers, and potential manufacturers,” Heron reflects. “She started conversations with Canadian trade commissioners to really help us get out there and showcase our product.”

Over the past two years, Armilla Tech refined its technology through security and stress testing. This technological advancement enabled it to leverage the opportunities uncovered by Export Navigator, including support programs and awards. “With Amber’s help, we went through the World Trade Centre Vancouver’s Trade Accelerator Program and became one of three finalists for an export award,” Heron shares. “We didn’t end up winning, but it felt great to place third out of about 400 companies.”

The power of export for growth

Expansion into the United States has fuelled Armilla Tech’s nearly $500,000 in sales in 2023, far surpassing the $100,000 revenue in 2022. Armilla Tech has already found its way into four states through a partnership with the National Federation of High School Sports. Soon, Heron plans to see Armilla Tech in all 50 states and eyes NCAA football after the bowl game season.

Heron reiterates that Armilla Tech’s success wouldn’t have been possible without Export Navigator. “Amber has been amazing. She’s put us in touch with people who have helped us expand to international markets,” says Heron. “Export Navigator has helped us speak with different levels of government and introduced us to key contacts around the world, opening countless doors for our growth.”

Amber Piché