In our latest North East tech startup spotlight, we turn our attention to Mymo, a new wearable which measures a runners’ gait and uses an AI algorithm to guide them to buying the right type of shoes.
Founder Craig Downs tells us more about Mymo and his experience of setting up a sportstech company in the North East.
A runner’s need
Mymo was set up by PR freelancer Craig Downs and business and IT entrepreneur, Martin Coleman. While Martin had the technical foundations, Craig spotted the market opportunity through first-hand experience. As a keen runner, Craig found himself with a running injury after wearing the wrong shoes despite in-store consultation. After talking to other runners about his experience, Craig realised that this wasn’t an uncommon problem in the running world.
“It was apparent that runners had experienced similar problems and trying to find the right type of running shoes was confusing and complex.” comments Craig. “Furthermore, the gait tests you do in a running store are not consistent – some ask you to walk while others will ask you to run on a treadmill under supervision, while at the other end of the spectrum, you can have a full gait assessment undertaken in a physio practice, which you can pay up to £100 for a one-off assessment.
“Neither of these represent the natural running environment. The idea with Mymo is that you can actually go outside and assess your running gait in the comfort of your own environment, while still getting the most accurate results and then being guided to finding the right type of shoes.”
Result of extensive R&D
Mymo’s product is based on complex AI and exists of various components. Mymo invested in four years of research and development through partnering with different organisations and educational institutions.
“We worked with four different companies who each specialised in different areas. One to develop the sensor, another for the sock, app and algorithm.” explains Craig.
“The sensor is the hardware which collects all the RAW data while the sock has been designed to hold the sensor in a specific position on the foot. We also engaged the services of a software house to develop the app and CMS database, and worked with Northumbria University to develop the algorithm.
“A lot of this was self-funded but we did access grants from the North East BIC, RTC and various other projects which was very helpful to us as a new startup. I think this is a really key point, having gone through the process and pain myself, I can see why start-ups might never get to market. You are constantly faced with problems but it’s also cash burn – you’re not selling anything so you’re not making any money. Developing and taking new tech products to market can be expensive but there is an abundance of support and help out there for new start ups and crucially, grants and funding streams are available.”
Mymo has now launched its first consumer-based product (pictured above) and although still early days, the team has received very positive feedback from customers. Craig said, “You could go on forever and keep researching and developing but there comes a point when you’ve just got to get it to market, get customers buying it, talking about it and giving you feedback. We could have spent thousands more on R&D so it had all bells and whistles on it but what’s more important is getting feedback from your customers and looking at how we can improve.”
Mymo’s current growth plans are to increase revenue in the UK and to continue to invest in R&D to extend its product into other sports and markets.
“Our growth plan is to generate sales and constantly improve the technology. We’ve extended our partnership with Northumbria University for the next three years and taken on a PhD student to constantly improve the functionality of the algorithm. We are already exploring how we can extend the technology into other key sports markets.
“We’ve also secured funding to extend the Mymo system into the healthcare market. We’re currently undertaking some quantitative research, again with Northumbria University, working with clinicians and patients using the Mymo sensors in a clinical setting to assess gait and mobility of older people with the aim of being able to identify early intervention and monitoring of any gait abnormality, pathological gait or specific gait deviations.
“So, what started out as an extension to my running hobby is now leading to a very exciting place that has potential to change the entire direction of my career and even my life.”
About our North east Tech Stories...
This startup spotlight is part of our wider North East Tech Stories series which features tech startups and growth stories across the North East of England.
Do you have a story you'd like us to feature? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our Tech Stories criteria, we're looking for (startup and growth) businesses who are classed as "tech", based in the North East of England and who have already launched a product or service (can be an MVP).