Stryd president and cofounder Li Shang. Image by Jonathan Castner for Bizwest

Boulder sports-tech startup Stryds toward growth

Stryd cofounder Jamie Williamson conducts testing on devices that are to be sent to athletes. Image by Jonathan Castner for Bizwest
Stryd cofounder Jamie Williamson conducts testing on devices that are to be sent to athletes. Image by Jonathan Castner for Bizwest

BOULDER — Three days after the lights had dimmed on the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympics, Boulder sports-tech startup Stryd was still in Brazil collecting accolades to bring home to American soil.

Stryd, launched in 2012 by a group of several founders, beat out seven other finalists to take home the 100,000 Euro — roughly $112,000 — top prize at the Hype Foundation’s Global Innovation in Sports Competition.

The victory followed by a few days the company’s launch of a new training product for runners and triathletes that measures their efficiency and offers feedback as to which form and conditioning changes can help them improve.

“We’re just getting to the point that we could consider paying the management team,” CEO and cofounder Robert Dick quipped of the winnings in a recent interview.

Stryd, 5353 Manhattan Circle, in March 2015 launched a power meter for runners through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter that raised $253,000. The company has been selling that original Pioneer device — worn via chest strap — ever since. But its latest product, dubbed simply Stryd, has been a year in the making and takes its outputs to the next level.

While the new device also measures power, the main focus is on efficiency. More specifically, it measures the coefficient of stiffness on runners’ leg spring, a metric closely correlated with efficiency. In essence, the higher the coefficient of stiffness, the more economically a runner is running. Dick said the efficiency metric is easier to use than power, though power will still be incorporated to help with pacing during a run.

Like its predecessor, the new Stryd device, which connects to runners’ shoes, will sync with sports watches and mobile devices, as well as other training software. Initially, Stryd will help runners understand how changes they made to their form impacted their efficiency. But eventually the idea is for a smartphone or smartwatch to be able to communicate tips during a workout based on real-time data from Stryd.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into integrating this with systems athletes already use in training,” said Dick, a University of Michigan engineering professor who splits his time between Boulder and Ann Arbor.

In addition to the contest, Stryd officials were in Rio watching their new device in action. American Ben Kanute, who finished 29th, wore the device, and the company is in the process of working with Kanute and his coaches now to gather insights on the data gathered.

“We think there’s going to be an interesting story there,” Dick said.

Both Stryd devices sell for $199. The company, however, has paused sales of the Pioneer while it ramps up sales of the new unit. Dick said when sales resume for Pioneer, it will come with new software updates that will be available for free to current Pioneer owners. The new device, meanwhile, is available for preorder on Stryd’s site, with the first units expected to ship this month.

Stryd doesn’t disclose revenue or startup costs. Dick said the eight-person company could add employees in the wake of the new launch, but it’s largely dependent upon revenue.

In the meantime, the company already has multiple technologies on the backburner that could become the company’s next products.

“It’s hard to tell which ones will,” Dick said.


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