Memorandum

Supersapiens closes $13.5 million in early stage funding in support of CGM powered glucose insights for elite athletes with Abbott’s Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor – April 27, 2021

Funding led by MICA Ventures AG; Supersapiens working to develop a wrist wearable product called “Supersapiens Reader Version Zero” with real-time connectivity to Libre Sense CGM data

Atlanta-based startup Supersapiens today announced the closing of $13.5 million in early stage funding, bringing the company’s total funding to $18 million to-date. This latest funding was led by Michael Hartweg, the founder of MICA Ventures AG and included big names from both investing and high-performance athletics. These names include Ed Baker (former VP of product growth at Uber and head of international growth at Facebook), Harvey Shwartz (former co-president and CEO of Goldman Sachs), Remi Duchemin (co-founder of OC Sport), and Eric Min (founder and CEO of Zwift). Per Supersapiens’ press announcement, this funding round represents the “largest investment in the sports glucose monitoring space.” See our deep dive into the start-up from September 2020, as well as our in-depth interview with CEO Phil Southerland.

Following European launch in September 2020, Supersapiens now has “more than 2,000” athletes using its platform with Abbott’s Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor. Notably, Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s fastest marathoner, has been wearing Abbott’s Libre Sense in training and recently wore it during his win at the NN Mission Marathon in preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Currently, Supersapiens is a non-exclusive distributor for Libre Sense which is available in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the UK.

This most recent round of funding for Supersapiens indicates there is significant interest in glucose monitoring from within the community of endurance athletes. Notably, one investor, Mr. Eric Min is the founder and CEO of Zwift, a multiplayer online cycling and running platform that has gained significant traction during the COVID-19 pandemic from the broader population; it already had a following among serious athletes pre-COVID-19. While Supersapiens is targeted at people without diabetes, raising awareness about CGM and the value of glycemic control is likely to have big benefits for the diabetes community. Not to mention, as sports and wellness CGM continue to grain traction, we see this as a key avenue toward reducing the stigma associated with wearable health technology that so many people with diabetes experience.

  • As a reminder, Supersapiens offers users an “ecosystem” around Abbott’s Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor by providing glucose insights such as average glucose, “glucose stability” (similar to glycemic variability), and “glucose exposure” which is calculated based on overall glucose intake for the day compared to 24-hours at user’s target glucose levels. Abbott’s Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor is built upon Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre CGM technology and maintains the same form factor and 14-day wear as FreeStyle Libre 2. However, unlike FreeStyle Libre 2, the Libre Sense device streams glucose data in real-time to a reader without the need for scanning. With the recent European launch of FreeStyle Libre 3, we are curious if Abbott plans to update its Libre Sense Biosensor with the smaller Libre 3 form factor.

  • Supersapiens is currently working to develop a wrist wearable product called “Supersapiens Reader Version Zero” that will allow users to see real-time glycemic and “fuel” data while exercising without having to check their smartphones. This would be a nice ease-of-use win for Libre Sense users, though we’d imagine the primary purpose for athletes using Libre Sense would be for retrospective review – that said, we can also imagine real-time monitoring being very popular as more exacting information and insight on best glucose levels becomes more appealing. Back on the diabetes front, Apple Watch users can currently view their real-time glucose data from Dexcom G6 (only when a smartphone is in range), but no other CGMs have this feature.

Close Concerns’ Q&A with Supersapiens CEO & Founder Phil Southerland

  • Hanna Gutow: What is Supersapiens’ total valuation?
    • Phil Southerland: We are still on the road to our target and right now valuation isn’t the metric we are focused on. We are focused on a positive growth trajectory, which we have, along with driving sales. Both have a direct impact on our future valuation, which will be public with our Series A.
  • Hanna: How have current users responded to Supersapiens’ CGM driven performance insights?

    • Phil: I would say the appropriate description is that they are definitely finding it illuminating. Our users are fascinated seeing what food and exercise does to the body and glucose levels. This is the first time they have seen definitive data showing the impact of those choices. As you know, I always have been a proponent for exercise and I’m excited to finally have the ability to quantify exercise with true data sets.
  • Hanna: What is Supersapiens’ initial marketing strategy? Is there a plan to expand marketing outside “elite” endurance athletes to a wider population of everyday athletes?

    • Phil: We are focusing on all the traditional marketing channels to build brand awareness around Supersapiens powered by the Abbott Libre Sense. Education is a critical piece for athletes to adopt CGM technology as part of their training and racing strategy for sport performance. You have to remember—they are extremely new to this concept and we must help them first understand all the things that impact glucose before they will be able to experiment and be able to find what works best for them. Even the fact that everyone’s glucose response is different and different days mean different numbers is something they are still learning. In general, we feel we are just at the tip of the iceberg. As education improves and more people have visibility into their glucose and understand how to maximize their potential through it, we anticipate exponential adoption. In addition to Ironman and several official team partnerships, we are working with top athletes in various sports throughout the world as part of our ambassador program. We currently have 300 ambassadors with a total of more than 16 million followers. Speaking to the wider population, we are here to serve athletes and it is our firm belief at Supersapiens that every human is an athlete. We are starting with elites but that isn’t our true audience. We see everyone from the world’s fastest marathoner headed to Tokyo, an Ironman finisher all the way to a person training for their first couch-to-5k as our athletes. We want to serve those people and help them achieve their goals because no goal is too small or too big.
  • Hanna: How similar or different will be the marketing strategy and product features for CGM as a fitness accessory for people without diabetes vs. medical device for diabetes management?

    • Phil: We are strictly focused on the sports performance market and helping athletes achieve their goals using the Supersapiens ecosystem, powered by Abbott’s Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor.
  • Hanna: What is the timeline for Abbott and Supersapiens to bring Abbott’s Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor and the Supersapiens platform to additional markets?

    • Phil: We are and intend to continue taking all the appropriate steps as a company to ensure that we come to market properly and in respect to all FDA regulations. Timing is contingent on regulatory approvals. Currently, the Supersapiens ecosystem, powered by Abbott’s Libre Sense, is available in eight European countries. We will be happy to provide an update once we have more information to share.
  • Hanna: Do Abbott and Supersapiens intend to update the form factor of the Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor to mirror that of FreeStyle Libre 3?
    • Phil: We can only speak to Supersapiens and our evolution. Next week we are going live on select Garmin devices and we are eager to watch the adoption of those integrations. Being able to see glucose while training on a watch is a game changer when it comes to real-time adjustments and allowing an athlete to stay within their glucose performance zone. I am excited for the improvements we will see across all technologies and couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with Abbott to help lead the charge.

 

--by Hanna Gutow, Albert Cai, and Kelly Close