Olympic Games 2021 – 5 top sports startups to watch

By Anais Masetti - 23 July 2021

With a year of delay and after many tribulations, the Tokyo Olympic Games are finally kicking off! What better time than now to celebrate the contributions of startups to the sports industry? Whether it’s improving the performance of professional athletes, helping amateurs get healthier or enhancing the viewing experience for the fans, there are a myriad of exciting solutions coming from the startup ecosystem.

Among our database of over 3500 rated startups, we have identified some up-and-coming businesses worth watching in the sports and fitness space. All the companies featured here have undergone our rigorous startup rating process and achieved a score above 70/100.  Read on to discover the exciting innovations of these top sports startups.

Digitsole powered by Zhor Tech: the smart shoe for the future of sports

Data collection and analysis can be a powerful tool to understand an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, and then work on the latter. With the advent of IoT and connected devices, such as wearable fitness trackers, it is becoming ever easier for both professional and amateur athletes to access such data and track their progress. 

The group Epsilon, which owns the startups Zhor Tech and Digitsole, has taken this trend further by creating one of the first smart shoe soles on the market. Its connected insoles can be fitted in most shoes and are equipped with sensors that collect data on various analytics (stride quality, force of impact, contact and flight time, etc.). This data is then displayed in a mobile app which can help runners optimise their performance.

In May 2019, Epsilon ranked among the top 10% of startups rated by Early Metrics. Since then, it has continued to grow and has recently announced that it was further expanding in the medtech area by partnering with bepatient

TalentMondo: the wellbeing platform to get your employees moving

More and more employers recognise the importance of fostering employee wellbeing to increase productivity and retention, among other things. Meanwhile, a growing number of employees are also raising their expectations in terms of the wellbeing measures their employers should provide. This forms the perfect environment for startups such as Talentmondo to grow.

The Estonian company develops an all-in-one employee wellbeing platform. The platform offers employees live classes and sessions around physical and mental health, team building, and career development. Users of the platform have access to a number of credits and can book classes of up to 10 people on their interface. At the end of each month, Talentmondo shares a report with their clients on usage and insights on wellbeing.

Founded in March 2020, it has already built a large user base, gaining the trust of some very large companies including PwC and Jotun. The startup also made it in the top 20% of innovative companies rated by Early Metrics (May 2021).

Stendo: the healthtech startup speeding up post-workout recovery

The field of healthtech offers new opportunities to enhance the physical capabilities of athletes and optimise their recovery. The rated startup Stendo is among the most promising businesses using technology to improve physical performance while preventing injury.

The French startup has developed non-invasive devices stimulating the nitric oxide pathway and the circulatory system for sports, but also for beauty and healthcare applications. An electronic system connected to a bodysuit provides cardio-synchronised massages, i.e. in time with the heartbeat. This supports faster muscle recovery and promotes cardiovascular health. 

Many French professional sports institutions, such as the Arkea-Samsic pro cycling team, have already adopted Stendo’s solution in their post-workout recovery process. Moreover, in December 2020 Stendo ranked among the top 20% of startups rated by Early Metrics.

Immersiv.io: the startup bringing next-gen experiences to the sports fans

Startup technologies can not only support those who love doing sports but also those who love watching it. For instance, the French startup Immersiv.io creates immersive and interactive experiences for sports fans

Thanks to augmented reality frameworks, machine learning and computer vision, the startup allows viewers to see stats and gain a new point of view on a game or race. Fans can enjoy these augmented experiences in real-time through smartphones, smart glasses and VR sets.

While it has not yet collaborated with the Olympic Games, Immersiv.io has already applied its technology to major sporting events such as the Tour de France 2021, Roland Garros 2020 and the UEFA Champions League 2017. When it was rated in 2018, the startup achieved a very high score for its management team and a strong overall score which ranked it in the top 20% of all rated startups.

Sportihome: the holiday lettings platform for the sporty adventurers

There are those who travel to find exotic buffets and others who do so to live sporty adventures. Sportihome definitely caters to the latter with its Airbnb-style platform. The French startup offers a collaborative accommodation platform dedicated to sports travellers

The platform lists holiday lettings across France that are located near sports centres or activities (kitesurfing, mountain biking, surfing, etc.). It allows athletes to book their holidays while benefiting from local tips for their activities. Travellers can also rent equipment through Sportihome. In fact, in January 2021, the startup announced a partnership with Decathlon to allow holiday spot owners to acquire the needed gear at a discounted price.

In May 2021, the rating conducted by Early Metrics highlighted the high quality of Sportihome’s management team, who have accumulated relevant experience and mentors over the years to support their business growth.

The sports tech industry is a market with a lot of potential. Indeed, according to MarketsandMarkets, the global sports tech market was valued at $17.9 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $40.2 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 17.5%. We can therefore expect more startups to enter the market with exciting sports tech, for the joy of athletes and fans alike. In the meantime, we hope the lighting of the Olympic torch will also kindle your interest in sports, and the technologies that enhance it.

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