GOLD's Magazine Startup of the month
Founded in 2020, Smart Cyclo wants to take on the sports performance-tracking industry by focusing on cyclists and triathletes. It was when taking up cycling to improve his health that Marios Kyriakou, the startup’s co-founder, realised that the industry had overlooked a key metric: body posture. A cyclist’s body is the main source of aerodynamic drag and, depending on the surface, it can be the greatest barrier to speed. To this end, competitive cyclists spend serious money customising bikes to their bodies as a means to cycle faster. The gap in the market gave Kyriakou the idea to leverage his extensive experience in computer science and engineering to build two light sensors which are then mounted on the upper and lower back of the cyclist to collect body position data.
As the point of tracking is analytics, Smart Cyclo also created an app that algorithmically relays this information to the user in real time. And it worked: the prototype showed with precision how a cyclist’s body positions affect his/her performance. According to Kyriakou, by adding this metric into the mix of what is trackable (heart rate, power zone and cadence), beginners can see how to achieve a 20-30% increase in their speed. Elite athletes may only see a 3% improvement but this is a sport where very fine margins separate winners from losers. On top of that, when using Smart Cyclo indoors for training purposes – the startup has enlisted professional cyclists to run tests – the app can accurately estimate the speed which an athlete would have had when cycling outdoors. “Others do that as well but, as you understand, body posture is important so we add that metric into the formula and we get a more accurate number for the speed,” he clarifies.
With the mobile app ready for the market, Kyriakou saw an opportunity to go bigger and better. Having secured a healthy grant from the national Research and Innovation Foundation, Smart Cyclo will add an online platform to the existing product that will provide cyclists with more analytical capabilities and coaches with a training tool. “There are many training platforms out there for sports but our focus is on cycling (and specifically on body posture) so that a training plan can provide you with feedback on which position you have to take on specific segments of the track or road,” Kyriakou explains. More importantly, the platform (the app also has this feature) will draw data from third-party sensors, like Garmin and Apple Watches or other sport-specific wearables, and correlate that data to give athletes a clearer picture of their performance.
The current platform is expected to be ready for alpha testing this summer and go live within two years. Despite being early days for Smart Cyclo, there has been tangible interest from the industry, particularly at the 2022 Dubai GITEX exhibition, one of the largest tech events in the world, where it created a few synergies that Kyriakou prefers to keep under wraps for now. “We also want to add a heart rate sensor, as well as expand into other sports but that’s for the future,” he notes. “But I’ve been lucky so far and have found people who are very capable in their areas – developers, brand designers, marketing managers, and engineers – who will allow us to create a successful product. This is not the work of just one or two people!”