Endurance athletes measure everything. From sleep to heart rate to food intake, logging key insights can help the pros reach peak performance.
But Atlanta-based Phil Southerland knew that such tracking had its limits. As a professional cyclist and co-founder of Team Novo Nordisk, Southerland recognized there was no way to accurately measure glucose, the body’s main form of fuel during intense exercise, in real-time.
His startup Supersapiens has raised $13.5 million in early-stage funding from MICA Ventures AG, Wahoo Fitness, Zwift, Swiss Startup Group, Rubix Ventures, and a handful of other investors.
The capital, Southerland says, will go towards recruiting “the best of the best in the sports and science world.”
A Personal Story Transforms Endurance Sports
Southerland told Hypepotamus he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at seven months old. “Luckily, I had stubborn parents that valued exercise and access to technology and medication. I didn’t just overcome those odds, but I went on to become a professional cyclist,” he said.
He first started exploring continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) in 2006 through a research trial with Abbott at the Race Across America (RAAM). It helped his team earn a second-place finish at RAAM that year.
“The following year, armed with an increased understanding of glucose management, my team went on to take first place at the event and set a new world record. It was at that moment I knew that I wanted to use sports as a platform to inspire people affected by diabetes to chase their dreams,” said Southerland.
Southerland went on to found Team Novo Nordisk, the first team with all athletes with type I diabetes, in December 2012 in partnership with the Danish pharmaceutical company.
While working to find a way to make glucose monitoring information constantly visible to endurance athletes, Southerland applied for a conceptual patent to bring CGM data to a bicycle head unit.
“I had approached company after company hoping to make this advancement possible and it was Chip Hawkins, Founder of Wahoo Fitness, who made the impossible a reality when he connected CGM data via Bluetooth to the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT in late 2018,” he added.
“By overlaying exercise data consistently and accurately with glucose data, I experienced the a-ha moment, connecting the dots with glucose levels, fuel management, and exercise performance. I learned more in 15 days with CGM data on the head unit than I had in the previous 15 years. I also realized that the true value of this supercharged data was not just for athletes with diabetes, but for every athlete across the globe. Supersapiens was born.”
A partnership with global healthcare leader Abbott makes Supersapiens the only energy management ecosystem that directly integrates with a Bluetooth-enabled CGM for sports performance with the Libre Sense. This strategic partnership means that Supersapiens can offer athletes access to truly meaningful and actionable glucose data — real-time glucose levels transmitted directly to their phone.
Supersapiens and the Abbott Libre Sense Sport Biosensor are only indicated for sports use and are currently only available in the US. But the team, now 60 strong across the globe, is working to bring athletes a “real-time energy management system to provide actionable and personalized insights on real-time biometric data, starting with glucose,” Southerland added.
“Sports continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is an absolute game-changer for all athletes. This is the beginning of a massive performance revolution,” said Michael Hartweg, founder of MICA Ventures AG.