A broken ankle may make him rich

Lucas Espada turned the misery of a broken ankle into an opportunity. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Lucas Espada was an award-winning high school goalkeeper in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Then he suffered a broken left ankle.

He turned his misery into an opportunity.

As a freshman at Northeastern, instead of trying to play soccer, Espada spent his debut semester developing an app that could help athletes market themselves to college recruiters.

Espada learned during high school how difficult it can be to make that connection: His own highlight videos went unnoticed by coaches.
In search of a more effective way to sell himself, Espada referred to his favorite movie, The Dark Knight. He dubbed its musical score into his package of highlights.

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

“So, OK, this was illegal,” he acknowledged. “I took the soundtrack from the movie and I synchronized it with my moments of play. If there was a climax in the song, I would output that with my best highlight, and it would create this really epic feel.”

The positive response from college coaches told him he was on the right track. Espada formed a company, CAPTIV, and made similar videos for more than a dozen fellow high-school athletes. It turned out to be grueling and unprofitable work: To make a three-minute video required at least 18 hours.

Which is why he has decided to relaunch his company at Northeastern, based on an assembly line of multiple editors scouring client game videos for a quick turnaround.

“We take a 90-minute soccer game video, and we assign 18 people to watch it at the same time, so that each of those 18 people watches five minutes apiece,” Espada said. “You do that for seven videos, 630 minutes turns into 35 minutes, and you go from there.”

He has also written an Excel program to help the editors rank the highlights that they discover. And, of course, the videos will be enhanced by copyright-free music.

Espada rented a room at the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex before Thanksgiving to interview students who had shown interest in developing the company with him. About 30 applicants showed up.

“It was not as many as I was hoping for,” Espada said. “But I met a lot of really cool people. And because it was smaller than anticipated, I was able to have a lot of personal conversations.”

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

He would like to hire a staff in time for the first team meeting Jan. 7, with plans to begin recruiting clients soon thereafter.

“I hope it takes up the majority of my time every day,” said Espada, whose presentation of CAPTIV earned him a place in the finals of the recent Husky Startup Challenge,  a semesterlong competition in which students are given the tools and resources to turn their ideas into real companies. “It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

He doesn’t have a lot of time to spare. Espada has already joined Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club, Toastmasters for public speaking, and the Los Huskies Leadership Program. He was elected to the Student Government Association as a senator representing the business school. He meditates on Tuesdays at the Sacred Space, does yoga on Fridays, is learning taekwondo, and would love to play double bass in the university’s symphony orchestra.

There is one further ambition, now that his ankle has healed.

“Soccer tryouts,” he said. “They’re in February.”

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