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⭐Upside: Top 12 Emerging Sports Performance Startups to Watch in 2H22
At Upside Global, we come across a lot of sports tech startups every year, but sometimes we find startups that we believe have a unique technology, a great product, a great management team, great traction with a growing install base of customers. In this analysis we identified 12 sports performance startups that we think fit those criteria and that are set to make an impact in the second half of 2022. For each company we explained why they made the list. Now we would also point out that non of those startups and their products are perfect in any way. There are always pros and cons for any products. Moving forward we plan to publish those types of reports on our top emerging sports tech startups in some specific segments.
So here are our 12 top emerging sports performance companies to watch in 2H22:
1. Helight (Sleep aid)
Amount money raised: TBD
Sector: Sleep aid
Total employees: 7
Customers / partners: LOU (Top 14)
Company/product description: Helight’s second product is a sleep aid device that can emit a pure 630 nanometer wavelength. It has an effect on users’ sleep quality, falling asleep, relaxation, sleep inertia (the feeling of fatigue upon waking), circadian rhythm, and even mood while promoting the secretion of natural melatonin. Helight already sold 30,000 units globally and it has been used by many pro teams (Top 14/LOU) and athletes. Helight also offers the Helight PRO, which uses photobiomodulation, which reduces athletes’ inflammation and pain and enables tissue regeneration.
You can check out Helight at www.helight.com to learn more.
The Helight device is easy to use. Users simply need to put the device on their bedside table before bedtime, and then turn it on. The device will turn off by itself after 28 minutes. It is the first sleep aid device requiring no user attention nor intervention.
The Helight device is an award winning technology with a 96% customer satisfaction.
The video below explains the science behind Helight's devices and their use of photobiomodulation in sports. There are testimonies of doctors (Dr PELLETIER and Dr BENSADOUN), a medical physicist (Olivier CASELLES), a former Olympic athlete (Eléa DIARRA), a sports physiotherapist (Chrystelle ORTOLLA) or even the former osteopath of the French women's basketball team who currently works for the Serbian team (Fabrice NOCERA).
To listen to the podcast interview with Greg Bonnier, VP of Helight, click here.
⬆️ The Upside: We picked Helight for a number of reasons: (1) Great product: We tried a number of sleep aid devices (smart sleeping masks, smart bands, etc..) and all of these products require athletes to wear something to help them sleep. Helight’s sleep aid device does not require athletes to wear anything. All the athletes have to do is put the device on their bed side table, turn the device and they are done. (2) Great satisfaction rate: Helight has a 96% satisfaction rate which is impressive. It just speaks for the quality of the product. We sent the Helight device to a large number of teams and all the teams who tried it loved the product. (3) Solid science behind it: Helight technology is using a technology built by NASA and they have published several research papers. (4) Growing need among pro teams for sleep aid solutions. 48% of the teams that we surveyed plan to invest in a sleep tech solution in the coming months. In fact sleep tech came up as the number #1 type of tech that pro teams plan to invest in the coming months and we believe that Helight is well positioned to become a leader in the space in the world of elite sports.
So net net Helight is a great option for any teams looking to help their athletes improve their sleep, or fight jet lag issues when traveling overseas. We expect many more teams (NFL, MLS, NHL, Premier League, Pro rugby..) to continue to adopt their non-invasive sleep aid device in the coming months.
2.Zone7 (AI based risk assessment platform):
HQ: Palo Alto, CA
Amount money raised: $10.5M
Sector: AI based injury prevention tool
Investors: Blumberg Capital, Resolute Ventures, UpWest, PLG Ventures and Joyance Partners.
Total employees: 43
Customers / partners: Hull City, Rangers FC, Celtic FC, QPR, Valencia CF, LA FC. Zone7 is also deployed live across the Premier League.
Company/product description: Zone7 helps athletes, coaches and medical professionals bridge the gap between maximum performance and avoiding injury. Zone7 use AI-driven pattern recognition to predict injuries and simulate how changes in training and working impact performance and injuries. Data is collected from wearables, medical profiles and physio & screening products to ensure the utmost accuracy and trust.
Here is a video illustrating how Zone7 works - Collect, Harmonize, Analyze, Action/Recommendation.
⬆️ The Upside: Zone7 made the cut as one of the top startups to watch in 2H22 for a number of reasons: (1) Zone7 is part of a growing number of platforms aiming at helping teams better assess the risk of injury. (2) Current momentum: Zone7 has signed a growing number of top teams (Liverpool FC, Leeds FC, etc..) in the fast few months, which speaks for the level of interest from the world of elite sports. (3) Financial stability: Zone7 also raised a significant amount of funding ($10.5M) which is a key factor in our opinion. (4) Growing appetite among pro teams for injury risk assessment tools: Let’s face it! Injuries cost a lot of money to pro teams. This is why a large number of teams are investing into various types of technologies to try to better assess the risk of injuries. You can check out our injury risk assessment vendor ecosystem analysis here. We expect Zone7 to continue to sign new teams in the coming months and further gain momentum in the world of elite sports.
3. Fullpower Technologies (Sleep monitoring)
HQ: Santa Cruz, CA
Amount money raised: $55M, growing, cash-generating, profitable
Sector: Sleep monitoring, Biosensing, AI-powered IoT
Investors: Philippe Kahn, Alsop-Louie Capital
Total employees: 55
Customers / partners: Nike, Tempur-Pedic, Amazon (AWS), Google (Google Cloud), Microsoft (Azure), Oracle, NXP, Bosch, ST, TI, TE Connectivity, Qualcomm.
Company/product description: Fullpower is a Santa Cruz, California-based privately held developer of cloud-based IoT and wearable product technology used for activity tracking and sleep monitoring. Fullpower specializes in wireless technology, microelectromechanical systems, and nanotechnology. The company holds over 125 patents for its intellectual property, which it licenses to manufacturers.
The company was founded in 2005 by entrepreneurs Philippe Kahn and Sonia Lee. Fullpower-AI provides an end-to-end B2B infrastructure for AI-powered algorithms, remote contactless biosensing, and engineering services.
One of its key product is Sleeptracker®-AI Monitor, which analyzes sleep cycles, breathing rate, heart rate, and movement to offer personalized suggestions for better sleep. Sleeptracker accuracy commensurate with gold standard polysomnography is validated by Stanford Medical research as per the following publication.
Photo: Fullpower Technologies. Tomorrow’s non invasive contactless biosensor.
Picture: Fullpower Technologies. Tomorrow’s non invasive contactless biosensor.
⬆️ The Upside: We selected Fullpower Technologies for several reasons: (1) Experienced management team: Philippe Kahn, Fullpower Technologies CEO, is a pioneer in the Silicon Valley and he is known as a serial entrepreneur. That’s a key factor in our opinion. (2) Proven technology used by large vendors: Their tech is being used by some of the largest companies (Nike, Tempur Pedic..) in the world, which speaks volume about how good their AI based technology is. We also personally tested their product and can attest that their sleep monitoring device works great. (3) Proven science: They have published a large number of research papers and studies which is another key factor in our opinion. It shows that their technology is sound and proven. (4) Financial stability: The fact that they raised $55M is quite impressive especially for a sports performance startup. It is a strong indicator of how strong and stable this company is. So net net we like Fullpower Technologies and believe that this tech is perfectly suited for pro teams, academies that need to monitor their players’ sleep.
4. McLloyd (GPS tracking system)
HQ: Paris (France), US subsidiary in Miami, FL (USA)
Amount money raised: 2,7M€
Sector: GPS tracking system
Total employees: 22
Customers: 150+ customers in Europe (Stade Rennais/Ligue 1, Standard de Liège/Belgian soccer league, Amiens SC/Ligue 2...) and North America (NISA league soccer teams, MLR teams, Speed specialists...)
Company/product description: Launched in 2013 in France, McLloyd Sport Tracking system (v4) has been adopted by more than 150 teams and coachs across North America and Europe for tracking sport performance in multiple disciplines.
Thanks to it’s top accuracy and user-friendly software combined with a fair and flexible pricing policy, the system is appreciated not only for the efficiency of it’s real-time system but also for it’s complete approach of data treatment (more than 210 indicators with customization for every athlete with high level of transparency / raw data access, embed big data platform).
The company has developed a very unique expertise in positioning accuracy that led it to become the tracking system world’s leader into the racing industry with more than 6000+ races tracked per year with a centimetric technology.
McLloyd has recently released a "remote coaching" system for empowering coaches with tracking their athletes performances with no limit of distance (cloud platform & data transfert through smartphone), and will release its indoor system in S2 2022.
Here is a video illustrating McLloyd GPS solution:
⬆️ The Upside: We like McLloyd for a number of reasons: (1) They are targeting the lower level (academies, high school, college..) of sports, which is an untapped market in the US. It represents 96% of the US sports market. (2) McLloyd is currently gaining great action in the US because of the pricing flexibility of their product, and lower price point. (3) High quality product: McLloyd also offers high quality products. (4) Continued adoption and interest for GPS solutions among pro teams. Based on our vendor surveys, GPS is by far one of the most commonly used tech among pro teams. 44% of teams that we surveyed plan to invest in a GPS solution in the coming months. Granted there are some market leaders (Catapult, STATSports..) out there but there are also some emerging players out there like McLloyd that are targeting untapped markets. You can check out our GPS vendor analysis ecosystem analysis here. We expect McLloyd to continue to sign a growing number of teams in the US and abroad in the coming months.
5. Soccer System Pro (AMS)
HQ: Barcelona (Spain)
Amount money raised: TBD
Total employees: 10
Customers / partners: Laliga, Premier League, MLS clubs.
Company/product description: MDM Systems, which powers Soccer System Pro, stands for Medical Data Management Systems. They develop world class sports medicine data management software. They form partnership with hospitals, sports clubs, universities and individuals seeking advanced, intuitive software to manage their day to day business and improve their current and future ways of working.
MDM was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Barcelona, where their team of 7 passionate employees work tirelessly for our customers. They are not doctors, physios or sports science practitioners and they don't aspire to be either. They are a team of young, hardworking web engineers, analysts, statisticians and designers with a broad experience of the digital world.
Picture: Soccer System Pro, Mauricio Pochettino.
Picture: Soccer System Pro, Real Club Deportivo (Spanish soccer league)
⬆️ The Upside: We selected Soccer Systems Pro for a number of reasons: (1) High quality product: Our internal vendor survey showed that Soccer System Pro had some of the highest ratings among the AMS vendors when we conducted our 2022 AMS vendors survey. That’s a key factor which speaks about the quality of the product and customer care support that Soccer Systems pro offers to its customers. (2) Growing number of top customers: Soccer System Pro has been adding a growing number of pro teams in the Premier League and Laliga in the past months. (3) Growing appetite for AMS solution among pro teams: We continue to see a large amount of interest for AMS solution among elite teams. In fact AMS solutions are among the top 3 types of sports performance solutions (GPS, HR..) used by pro teams today. Granted there are some big AMS vendors (Fusion Sports, Kitman Labs, Kinduct..) out there but we also see emerging players like Soccer System Pro that are gaining good traction as well. You can check out our recent analysis on the AMS vendor ecosystem analysis here. Moving forward we expect Soccer Systems Pro to sign new teams in the coming months.
6. ThermoHuman (thermography)
HQ: Madrid (Spain)
Amount money raised: Self funded
Total employees: 10
Customers / partners: New York Knicks (NBA), Inter Miami FC (MLS), Orlando City (MLS), FC Barcelona (LaLiga), VfL Wolfsburg (Bundesliga), Mexican Football Federation or Panathinaikos BC (Greece), Sevilla FC, FC Emirates, PSG, FC Orenburg, just to name a few.
Company/product description: ThermoHuman is a pioneer company specialized in the application of Infrared Thermography for injury prevention/monitoring and internal load quantification. Fast, non-invasive and objective skin temperature measurement. For that, we provide thermal cameras, training and our unique software using computer vision algorithms and AI to help sport and health professionals to better understand thermal physiology and to provide better decision making. 12 years of experience, 52 scientific articles published and customers in more than 30 countries.
According to some studies, ThermoHuman technology resulted into into a 70% injury reduction in muscle injuries. They also have another report published with the Corinthians, which showed that with their technology this Brazilian soccer team saw a 63% reduction in muscle injuries and other teams in LaLiga and Portugal saw a 74% reduction in muscle injuries. They also have now enough evidence with soccer teams in Brazil, Spain, and Portugal. Scientific reports (see graph below) have shown a significant reduction in muscle injuries between 63% and 74%”, according to Ismael Fernandez, CEO & cofounder of ThermoHuman.
Here is a video from ThermoHuman explaining how Fluminense FC a top Brazilian soccer team, is using ThermoHuman today to help reduce injuries.
Video: ThermoHuman, Fluminense FC.
To listen to the podcast interview with Ismael Fernandez, CEO of ThermoHuman, click here.
⬆️ The Upside: We picked ThermoHuman due to several reasons: (1) Great products with proven record to help teams reduce injuries: The fact that Thermohuman can help reduce injuries by -65%-75% speaks about the effectiveness of their technology. (2) Great momentum: ThermoHuman’s solid customer base of 50+ customers is a testament of how good their technology is. (3) Strong scientific evidence: One of ThermoHuman’s biggest strengths is about their ability to publish a large number of research papers and studies. We think it makes them even more credible. (4) Growing appetite for thermography in the world of elite sports. ThermoHuman has become a leader in this emerging space. You can check out our recent analysis on the thermography vendor ecosystem analysis here. So net net we think they have a bright future and we expect them to continue to sign new teams in 2H22 and beyond.
7. Orreco (Sports & Data Science Platform)
Offices: Galway (Ireland), London (England), Los Angeles (USA).
Amount money raised: $10M
Total employees: 42
Customers/partners: Orreco works with Olympians, Global governing bodies, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises, English Premier League teams, WNBA players, PGA Tour golfers and F1 drivers.
Background/product: Orreco is a leading Sports & Data Science Platform, which is blending Data Science and Sports Science to generate customized indicators of injury risk, optimal training load and recovery strategies.
Orreco also recently launched a new app called @thlete tailored for athletes that helps them analyze their sleep, nutrition, load and much more.
Picture: Orreco’s new app.
From rookie players to veteran pros, they help elite athletes tolerate the physical demands of the professional leagues, accelerate recovery and extend playing careers. They use biomarkers, blood analysis, and data science to identify an athlete's individual thresholds and provide personalized strategies to keep athletes in their peak performance zones.
Here is a video on Orreco’s solution:
To listen to the podcast interview with Dr Brian Moore, CEO of Orreco, click here.
⬆️ The Upside: In our view, Orreco is one of the most advanced sports performance startups out there. We personally like their athletes’ risk assessment tool. Their new @athlete app is also very innovative. We also like their modular approach with various products at various pricing to truly fit the budgets and needs of teams. They also have a very strong team of PhDs (17 PhD on staff) which is a key competitive advantage. Orreco has also gained great momentum in the past few months and currently they have customers in the Premier League, NBA, and NFL. We expect them to continue to sign major teams, and athletes in the coming months which will help them grow their top line.
8. SkillCorner (video analysis)
HQ: Paris (France)
Amount money raised: TBD
Investors: business angels, Seventure Partners, 2024 Paris Olympics’ sponsor.
Total employees: 23
Customers / partners: MLS, LFP, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Liga NOS, just to name a few.
Company/product description: SkillCorner is the leading broadcast tracking data provider in the soccer market. They use powerful AI to give teams a competitive edge for player recruitment by accessing the most accurate broadcast tracking data and the most advanced integrated analytics on an ever-growing database.
For the first time, teams can for example access simple to use and objective data on the physical profile of more than 30 000 players from more than 51 competitions globally (Men & Women). Following its success in soccer, SkillCorner is now expanding its services to other sports, focusing first on American Football with a product launch next season 22/23.
⬆️ The Upside: We like SkillCorner for several reasons: (1) Solid customer base: They have an impressive list of customers (Laliga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1…). (2) Solid management team: We believe that they have an experienced management team which is another critical factor. We expect SkillCorner to continue to take share away from some of its competitors in the coming months. There is a growing appetite for video analysis solutions and we believe that SkillCorner is well positioned to be a leader in the space. In fact our surveys showed that 32% of the teams that we surveyed plan to invest in a video solution. You can check out our recent analysis on the video analysis vendor ecosystem analysis here. So net net we expect SkillCorner to sign new leagues, teams, in the coming months in Europe as well as in the US.
9. Neurocess (EMG sensors)
HQ: London (England, UK)
Amount money raised: $3.4M. Raising another $5M as part of their next round of funding.
Sector: EMG sensor for injury prevention and training optimization.
Investors: SOSV/HAX, Growth Circuit.
Total employees: 10
Customers / partners: Leading Premier league soccer clubs, and Turkish soccer clubs and UK rugby teams.
Company/product description: Founded in 2018, Neurocess offers services as a wearable technology product that increases the training performance and reduces the risk of injury. Its product provides a sports activity analysis platform through a wireless EMG-based sensor network optimized for athletes. The developed bio-sensors is assisted by advanced signal processing methods to capture physiological data from the muscles accurately. They are using the electrical signals to extract important physiological and biomechanical features such as localized muscular strength, force, fatigue level, dehydration, conductivity, muscular stiffness, muscle recruitment with respect to time. They are analyzing this necessary physiological information with cutting-edge machine learning methods to gain insight into neuromuscular improvements, training efficiency, athletic form and injury risks.
Here is a video illustrating Neurocess’ sensor based solution to assess players’ injuries.
To listen to the podcast interview with Mert Ergeneci, CTO of Neurocess, click here.
⬆️ The Upside: We selected Neurocess for several reasons: (1) Unique product and technology: One of the biggest complains about EMG sensors is the fact that many EMG sensor vendors use compression shorts and many athletes do not want to wear compression shorts. Neurocess’ EMG sensors can also be applied directly on the skin and can be applied on specific muscle types. Neurocess’ competitors cannot applied their EMG sensors on specific muscle types. Now granted we recognize that the technology is not perfect but we think it is a step in the right direction (2) Solid research behind their technology: The Neurocess team has published a number of research papers which is important in our opinion. It shows that their science is sound and proven. (3) Current momentum: Neurocess is gaining great traction in leagues such as the Premier League, Calcio, etc. So net net we like Neurocess and believe that they have a bright future and we expect them to sign new teams and leagues in the coming months and improve their product over time with new enhancements and features.
10. Remedee Labs (Pain management)
HQ: Paris (France)
Amount money raised: $12M
Investors: HCVC, Habert Dassault Finance, Partech, Supernova Invest and C4 Venture.
Total employees: 35
Customers / partners: TBD
Company/product description: 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain and over half of them are not satisfied with their care. Remedee Labs aims to give these patients a new life. Based on 10 years of pre-clinical and clinical research, Remedee Labs has developed the first endorphin stimulator for personal use. Building on the experience of its clinical partners, the company now uses its unique technology to offer the first patient-centered digital service platform for chronic pain management, working alongside medical practitioners. Remedee Labs initial focus is helping patients with fibromyalgia, and plans extend the Platform offering to other chronic pain conditions in the coming future.
Picture: Remedee Labs bracelet and app.
Here is a picture of the Remedee Labs band:
Picture: Remedee Labs band, 2022
You can watch the video below to see how the Remedee Labs bracelet works.
Video: Remedee Labs, 2022.
⬆️ The Upside: We selected Remedee Labs for a couple of reasons: (1) Pain management is a real issue, and we believe that Remedee Labs’ innovative approach could be a really effective way to address athletes’ pain whether it is due to migraines, surgeries, etc. Now it takes usually 1 month minimum before seeing the effect of the Remedee Labs band. (2) Financial stability: Remedee Labs is a well funded startup ($12M) which is a key factor for a startup. (3) Proven technology: Remedee Labs band has been used in hospitals by patients for a while now. The technology is sound and works with patients with chronic pain. Of note, Remedee Labs also recently got selected by the FDA one of the emerging innovative startups to watch, which is a good sign. So net net we think Remedee Labs could be a real disruptor in the sports’ pain management space and could help pro teams with athletes that have chronic pains (migraines…).
11. Notemeal (nutrition management)
HQ: Boston, MA
Amount of money raised: TBD. Acquired by Teamworks in 2021.
Total employees: 12
Customers / partners: Notemeal currently has 215 nutritionists and 10,000+ athletes on its platform and works with 50 pro teams (NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, Olympic teams..).
Company/product description: Notemeal is the Performance Nutrition Platform - connecting dietitians, kitchens, and athletes to optimize nutrition, creating a new fueling experience. The company was recently acquired by Teamworks.
Notemeal has two products. They have the sports dietitian platform, where they are providing a toolkit to amplify the dietitians impact on the team. They provide a toolkit to build meal plans faster. They also provide food logs, allowing athletes to track what they're eating via photos, via search, barcode scanner, and it allows the dietitian to go back and forth with them. Their second product is called Performance kitchen where they allow the athletes to get on the app, use their meal plan and combine that meal plan with the day's menu to actually see personalized suggestions. They also allow athletes to send orders to the kitchen, similar to GrubHub style in-house and chefs will make those orders for pickup.
Here is a video from Notemeal with a testimonial from the LA Rams (NFL).
To listen to the podcast interview with Sean Harrington, CEO of Notemeal, click here.
⬆️ The Upside: We like Notemeal for several reasons: (1) Great momentum: Notemeal is in a growth phase as they recently got bought by Teamworks. Their platforms is now being used by 10k+ athletes. Based on Teamworks’ large footprint they are well positioned to experience strong growth in the coming months. (2) Great management team: The founder of Notemeal is a former New England Patriots executives who fully understands the world of elite sports. That matters a lot when you run a sports performance startup. (3) Great product: Now that Notemeal is part of Teamworks, Notemeal can offer a fully integrated platform (communication/calendar, nutrition platform…) to customers. So net net we like Notemeal and believe that Notemeal is well positioning to win new customers in the coming months and scale in a bigger way.
12.Flowbio (Hydration assessment)
HQ: New York, NY
Amount of money raised: Raised $2M to date (currently raising their $3M seed).
Investors: HAX/SOSV, EF, Possible Ventures
Total employees: 9
Customers / partners: Undisclosed
Company/product description: FLOWBIO is developing the world's first real-time sweat sensing platform. Their product, the FLOWPATCH is unlocking the next generation of human performance data starting with total body fluid and electrolyte loss. The FLOWPATCH consists of a single-use sensor (to ensure maximum accuracy of data) and reusable electronics, which analyses the signals coming from the sensors and processes + streams the data and hydration recommendations to a smart-watch, bike computer or phone.
Picture: FLOWPATCH prototype.
Here is a video demo of the product in the field.
⬆️ The Upside: There is a growing appetite for hydration assessment tools among pro teams. In fact, 24% of the pro teams that we surveyed plan to invest in an hydration assessment tool in the coming months. And we believe that FLOWBIO has built one of the best sensing products out there. We like the form factor (smart patch) and the fact that it can measure body fluid and electrolyte loss in real time when the athlete is working out. But more importantly it can understand the baseline of each individuals. We also like the fact that it can recommend to athlete how much water he/she should drink. Ultimately we believe that the FLOWBIO smart patch could be very useful for tennis players playing under high heat. It could help monitor their hydration level in real time and get rehydrated. We expect FLOWBIO to start gaining great momentum with athletes and teams towards the end of the year and in 2023.
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