Limbo is tackling obesity with a pair of wearables and decades of physiology

In recent years there has been a flurry of startup activity aimed at commercializing blood glucose biosensors — aka, wearable tech that was originally developed for diabetes management. These continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) transmit near real-time data on glucose levels, providing instant feedback (via a companion mobile app) on how the body metabolizes different foods or responds to lifestyle decisions around exercise and sleep.

The biowearables, which are semi-invasive — typically worn on the arm with a sensing filament inserted just under the skin — were originally developed for diabetics and pre-diabetics who have a medical need to track their blood sugar because of insulin resistance. But the startup gambit is that opening access to CGMs more generally can offer broad health utility by giving all sorts of people a dynamic window onto what’s going on with their metabolism.

Some of these startups are selling the idea that ‘biohacking’ by tracking blood glucose can help people optimize athletic performance, or configure a healthy diet and lifestyle — including weight management. But the startup strategy has often fixed on opening up the ‘data window’ first as a tactic to build product utility while they acquire (and structure) users’ metabolic and lifestyle data — tracking glucose responses to food and lifestyle inputs and, they hope, spotting positive and negative patterns that they can use to synthesize a fitness or healthy lifestyle program.

Limbo, a New York, London and Cork-based startup which is announcing a $6M seed raise today, is in this growing pack commercializing CGM tech — in its case building a subscription weight management business to target the obesity crisis. But it claims to be bringing a distinct approach with a product that’s not just a data-mining work in progress; rather, they say, the program is based on some three decades of research undertaken by one of the co-founders — chief research officer, Tony Martin, who is a physiologist and coach.

“[Martin] essentially worked out the secret of how blood glucose regulated the body and how energy in the body is mediated through blood glucose,” says co-founder and CEO, Rurik Bradbury, discussing the startup in a call with TechCrunch. “How if you control it in a certain way then you can have very dramatic weight loss results — based on biodata.”

Martin is not affiliated with any research institutions, nor has he published any scientific papers on his work so it’s private research — and results he was able to obtain using this private methodology with his own clients — that Limbo is drawing on for its product.

“The big breakthrough came over the last 5-6 years when CGMs came out… which allowed him to test a number of hypotheses,” explains Bradbury. “Both on himself and on his weight loss clients. And what he found was a number of patterns and a number of effects which he could replicate to do with the balance of different macronutrients essentially, and how the body can regulate itself if you reduce carbs and sugars.

“There’s nothing hugely …read more