At just 16, Eli Ohayon not only has a cool techie startup under his belt, but he was also featured this month on the global stage at a smart city expo in Barcelona.
Ohayon’s application aims to make it easier to book an empty tennis court or find a vacant lot for a game of pickup basketball or soccer. Named FiTog (for fit together), the health and fitness smartphone app allows you to check if public sports facilities are free, listing available times to reserve a spot.
Ohayon, who hails from the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, has teamed up with his mayor and officials from the city of Kiryat Gat to operate these services. In both towns, people already use the app, and Ohayon is in discussions with municipal employees about installing smart cameras to monitor the fields.
To fund FiTog, the young tech wunderkind works nights and weekends at a sabich (pita and eggplant) stall in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market, squirreling away the savings.
“The money I save up I spend on the application. I’m saving money for further investments on the app, to expand it around Israel and around the world,” Ohayon said, adding that he was looking for a possible investor.
In terms of a business model, FiTog plans to make money from collecting data on users, along with allowing businesses to place mobile ads.
Ohayon came up with the idea as he and his buddies would meander the local fields, searching for a vacant grassy spot to kick around the soccer ball. They would arrive early and wait just to stake a claim to the field.
“Me and my friends, we’d go to play soccer, and we were busy looking for close to half an hour for a free soccer field.
And so I had the idea of locating free soccer fields on an app,” Ohayon said.
On the FiTog app a user presses “Scan Now,” which then checks via GPS whether fields are open or not, along with other nearby users who are also looking at that time to play a game of tennis or basketball.
The app also asks users to report and verify the status of a court or field, similar to the way that Waze asks you to verify whether there’s traffic at a certain locale.
And if you don’t have enough players to fill the field for a five-on-five game, the start-up allows you to alert and request local users to partake in your pick-up game.
The start-up founder represented Israel at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month, where he demonstrated the app for Barcelona Mayor Ada Calou. He also impressed Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel and spoke with Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.
“I met Eli Ohayon, a young and talented young man, at a conference of smart cities in Barcelona,” said Kashriel.
“He told us about the application he developed and left us all excited, mouth-agape and full of pride. Eli is proof that our investment in math, cyber and science pays off.”
Ohayon is an 11th grader studying at Ort High School for Aviation Technology and Space. He is currently in the Air Force preparatory program and plans to enlist after graduation.
His burgeoning hi-tech career will undoubtedly be waiting for him when he’s discharged.