Sitting at the intersection of health science and data analytics is Adelaide-based technology company Lumin Sports. While the company collect and stores numerous sources of athlete data there is an added focus on collecting health and wellness data.
The company’s key is in the collection of subjective wellness and self-reported medical data through their Phila app which is a key contextual component that sits alongside their other product ARC which is the platform that visualises in-house or third-party athlete data for coaches and high-performance teams.
The company is experiencing growth with international cycling teams but has an eye on expanding to field-based sports such as Australian rules football.
In the conversation we spoke to the company’s founder Ben Tripodi.
Describe Lumin’s approach to gathering athlete data?
Ben Tripodi: “We’re trying to approach every situation in a connected team approach. We go to a club or a sporting team and essentially see what data they’re already collecting and perhaps offer solutions, gaps or key pieces of data.
“Most teams have GPS devices, heart rate monitors and one area is where they generally don’t have a good workflow for is capturing subjective wellness, the self-reported medical data such as ‘pulled up sore from yesterday’s training,’ or ‘had a bike crash,’ little things which often get lost in translation but is very important for an overall summary of someone’s performance. The Phila app fits in that place there, we collect all this third-party data, we collect data from integrated sources that we provide and collect data from, hardware devices and then we offer the Phila app where we gather the subjective wellness data.”
So you’re drawing a fuller picture of an athletes’ performance, health and wellbeing?
BT: “We’re focussed on data collection, data storage and processing and data visualisation and that’s our real key whether it’s data from our own products or from third-party products we create the data storage from that. We make sure the data can’t be changed or manipulated then we present that in real-time with well thought out user interfaces while making the data available in a way where every decision maker has access to it.”
Where do you sit with the idea that even though so much live data is generated during a training session or an event it may not be as actionable as opposed to after it?
BT: “It’s a very fair comment, and so the one area where having real-time or close to real-time is quite important is around most field sports. For example a player arrives at their training base at 7.30am and there’s generally two teams, a coaching team and performance team, the first training session is at 9.00am and in that hour and a half window the performance team needs to give the coaching team a list of athletes who are ready or able to train or a list of athletes who can’t do certain drills. The coach has to re-do their training session or drills based on the knowledge given to them that morning. That’s where real-time data comes in handy, the ability to make adjustments.”
What cycling programs are you currently working with – professional teams and national teams – and any partners outside of cycling?
BT: “We have Team Dimension Data and Team Katusha who are UCI WorldTeams, we work with Team Hagens Berman Axeon and Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank which is a UCI Women’s Team.
“We work with Boston University’s track and field team, but not their American football team, and then locally we work with the Australian Olympic cycling team and an AFL club.”
What do you learn from working with these clients and how does it shape the business?
BT: “Certainly a lot! Especially with Team Dimension Data they’re a founding partner of ours (their owner helped start the business) and we were kind of incubated inside the team. With such a close partnership we’ve obviously learnt the most from them. We’ve got inside access to all of their riders, we know the team back to front and we get invited to their races so the biggest thing we learn is how the riders use our program and what information is needed.”
As the cycling season is in full swing in Europe right now, what do you learn about the riders during the season?
BT: “The biggest thing that we notice is the riders become a little bit more anxious and it actually puts our product under pressure because to implement new products during the spring classics or when the grand tours start gets a lot harder. The riders and teams shut off a bit, no one is keen to try out new things or products.
“What we learnt most was we figured out to get the most amount of traction has been between September and January – when the Tour Down Under starts – it’s the time to really get out to the riders and team owners and chat to them.”
You’ve already got clients outside of cycling, so what other sports are of interest to Lumin?
BT: “We’ve got two products one is ARC which is our backbone to our solution so that’s our web platform which visualises all the data we’re collecting.
“With ARC, we’ve got two platforms one is for endurance sports such as cycling and the other is for more field sports which is based on Australian rules football at the moment.
“The idea is to expand further of course. We’ve got a reasonable name in cycling at the moment but we want to expand our cycling platform to more World Tour teams and national federations. We also want to drive more growth in Australian rules football as well, having partners who played AFL such as MatthewPavlich and James Begley has given me a large network of people within the league. For us we understand some of the issues with AFL players currently. Once we’ve created solutions that AFL teams are using we can start expanding to other local and international field sports. As AFL teams are highly regarded in the United States, and once we’ve built that credibility here, we want to begin tackling the US market, especially colleges. Keep in mind, to push for US colleges takes a concerted strategic effort and resources.”
You’ve been involved with two sportstech startups and with Lumin Sports you’re onto your third – how have you been able to evolve and adapt from your early businesses to now?
BT: “The previous businesses I was involved with gave me such a good learning curve. I did a Health Science degree at university whilst trying to be a professional triathlete at the same time. With the combination of the sports and heath science backgrounds I was looking to try and create businesses whilst in university that I thought it would utilise my skillsets. They were very ambitious and got a lot of traction early on but at the end of the day I didn’t quite have the experience that was needed to really grow it.
“Once I finished my degree, I’d stopped chasing professional contracts and after my first business I started working at a tech agency and that was my first foray into how software worked. I learnt how to assemble a team and the types of people needed to achieve the product you’re after. That was when I started to build my network as well. So when I started Lumin I had a much improved knowledge base and I met a lot of people in both the tech and sporting side so I went into it with a great amount of support around me and pretty much a team to roll out straight away.”