College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

A winning formula: Henry Shires is learning the game of baseball – and entrepreneurship – with his sports analytics startup Casmium

Photo by Ryan Riley. Photo compositing by Madeline Willits.

Henry Shires was in high school when the baseball coach asked his programming class for a tool to collect data on player performance. Shires and four classmates stepped up to the plate.

From the first pitch, however, they faced some curveballs.

“We built a prototype for the team, a really bare-bones prototype, which gave us some ideas to try and we got to see what worked – and what didn’t,” said Shires, a Cyclone Engineer majoring in computer engineering.

“The baseball team didn’t get a whole lot of use out of our first version, but while building it, we thought, if we can improve it, maybe other high schools want a baseball analytics tool like this,” he said.

Engineering at Iowa State fit like a glove

A college decision was at hand. Shires knew computer engineering and Iowa State would fit his passion to use computing to solve problems.

“All the classes and labs add up to a really diversified skillset – and I’ve gotten hands-on experience in computer hardware and processor design as well as software so I can take on a lot of different challenges,” he said.

The Iowa State Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship provided support for Shires and his co-founders, including Pradyumna Dahal, an Iowa State computer science major, Abhushan Pradhan, an Iowa State computer engineering major, Ashwin Dervesh, and Nikhil Herdt as they turned a high-school programming project into a company: Casmium.

Casmium takes a run at the big leagues

Right off the bat, Shires and Dahal hit a home run with the Pappajohn Center.

“We started with the pitch competition my freshman fall semester,” said Shires. “We got first place as a co-pitch. And we were like, ‘Okay, this is something for us… Let’s keep running with the Pappajohn Center.’”

Megan Graettinger, assistant director of the Pappajohn Center, coached Shires and Dahal to join the 2022 CYstarters summer startup accelerator program. The 11-week intensive program gave Casmium the mentorship and knowledge in marketing, finance, legal information, sales and design to grow the business.

“During CYstarters, our mission kind of formulated into: we want to take this data-driven ‘moneyball’ concept that the MLB has figured out – and bring it to youth and high school baseball teams in a format that’s easy to use and matches most teams’ budgets,” said Shires.

Learning the field, what coaches are looking for

Casmium has received good feedback about their product from many central Iowa schools, including Ames High and Valley High School. As they tweak their approach and the fanbase grows, Casmium is swinging for the fences.

“We have really big visions for expansion, whether it’s more schools in Iowa or even outside the state or the Midwest,” said Shires.

Shires reminds himself that he’s new to the game. His willingness to learn from the team around him is building a winning formula for Casmium.

“CYstarters was what we needed to foster our pure engineering thinking into entrepreneurial-plus-engineering thinking, so I’m really thankful for the mentors that have helped us through the Pappajohn Center and elsewhere for their guidance and insight and generosity as we learn the field of entrepreneurship,” said Shires.

“I’m just really grateful for my team. What we could accomplish is just unimaginable to me, so I’m really excited to see what we can do.”