By Tom Taulli
As seen with the huge success of companies like Nike (NKE) and Under Armour (UA), the sports business can be extremely lucrative. Yet the market is often overlooked.
But this is a good thing for Stephen Kurtz, who operates a startup called MuscleSound.
The company has developed a system that measures an athlete’s glycogen content, which is the main energy source for periods of medium- and high-intensity exertion. The technology relies on real-time data analysis to provide the right nutritional and recovery needs that allow for peak performance. This is done by a trainer scanning a muscle and sending the image to MuscleSound’s cloud platform.
“The lack of glycogen in a muscle is an early warning signal of an impending sustained injury,” said Stephen. “MuscleSound’s technology is capable of seeing this deficiency before an injury occurs.”
This is definitely critical. Consider that — during the first eight weeks of the 2014 NFL season — players got paid more than $35 million while they missed games because of soft tissue injuries. “But the loss is more than just compensation,” said Stephen. “There are losses from fewer fans in the stands, less concession and TV revenue.”
So far, MuscleSound has gotten lots of traction. Just some of the customers include the Colorado Rockies, Dallas Mavericks, the University of Colorado and Oregon State University, as well as global Olympic teams and soccer clubs in the United Kingdom.
In a way, the company is benefiting from major trends in the healthcare industry. For example, non-invasive ultrasound images are much more precise nowadays. “Before MuscleSound, the only way to measure glycogen was from a very invasive muscle biopsy,” said Stephen.
True, the market for MuscleSound may seem limited. But given the uniqueness of the company’s offering, there are various segments to sell to — even the animal health sector. “We have started to measure glycogen in racehorses to help prevent injuries and in cattle processing plants as glycogen levels in cattle determine the quality of the meat,” said Stephen. “As MuscleSound’s technology becomes increasingly accepted, we will aim to be the gold standard in muscle glycogen assessment.”