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. Heron is a military veteran and football coach, having led teams at high school, college, and professional levels in several countries. From this inexplicable dream came the foundation for his business, Armilla Tech, and Lance still feels like he’s dreaming. “Most people can’t believe we created an entirely new system in such a short time,” says Lance.

Innovating on-the-fly

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 the information to Armilla wristbands which the players wear—a system that is fully-encrypted and requires no WiFi or Bluetooth.

While the technology was initially a more effective way to communicate from the sidelines, Heron is shocked by its ability to break down barriers. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘Lance, this is going to be great for hearing-impaired athletes. Look at the top blue-chip prospect in the United States, Jarvis Anderson, who was born deaf. They run a sign language interpreter for every play. If he was allowed to use Armilla on the field, it could be a serious benefit for him and the team.” That ‘if’ is what brought Armilla Tech to Export Navigator and to advisor Amber Piché.

Touching down in other markets

Having already equipped teams in B.C. with the game-changing technology, Lance is laser-focused on expanding into large international markets that promise a great return, such as Japanese football leagues that saw stadiums packed with 40,000 people before the pandemic.

Although Lance has global contacts from his time coaching internationally, he was unsure about navigating frequency requirements and import restrictions for his business. “Amber has been amazing and put us in touch with border brokers to help us bring Armilla to international markets,” Lance reflects. “She’s introduced us to people, helped us with our pitch, put us in contact with potential manufacturers, and started conversations with Canadian trade commissioners to really help us get out there and showcase our product.”

Now, thanks to the support of Export Navigator, Armilla Tech is ready to ship their first international order to a premiere flag football league in Mexico, valued at $12,000 in revenue.

A winning combination

With only limited sales data, Lance says it’s too early to quantify the boost of international versus domestic sales. However, as Armilla Tech brings in more international clients, he predicts rapid growth of his small sales and support team and the expansion of Armilla wristbands beyond football—all thanks to Amber’s guidance and Export Navigator.

“It’s an amazing program,” shares Lance. “Being able to meet with someone who works in the realm of international trade really helps you focus your attention and find details you might have otherwise overlooked. I’m blessed to be part of Export Navigator.”

Amber Piché