Early in June, whenever Indian cricketer Shreyas Iyer lifted his bat during a match, the audience caught a flash of a black sticker on his right arm. It was small and round, with a ‘K’ etched into it. Getting Iyer to wear it was a smart strategy strategy News18 What Is The ‘K’ Sticker On The Arm Of Shreyas Iyer? Well, It’s An Expensive Fitness Gadget Read more  for its maker Ultrahuman, a Bengaluru-based fitness wearable startup. Unobtrusive, and yet, very public. 

The device is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), centred around the emerging concept of glycemic variability (GV)—oscillations of sugar levels within a day or a certain period and its potential long-term impacts on health. Although generally used by diabetics to monitor their sugar levels, the niche healthtech product is now finding use in the preventive fitness space. 

The device comes with an invasive CGM sensor that’s pierced onto the user’s arm and a slick smartphone app to monitor the data. The app is still in private beta mode, but that hasn’t stopped the company from going on an advertising blitzkrieg. 

For over a month, social media has been flooded with the who’s who of the Indian influencer ecosystem writing about their blood glucose levels. The Ken has learnt that Ultrahuman has contracted a cohort of 40 to 50 small and big influencers ranging from athletes to actors, who get paid upto US$4,000 for a stipulated number of deliverables. 

The app has data from nearly 14,000 paid users, Ultrahuman’s co-founder Mohit Kumar told The Ken in an interview. Another 140,000 people are on the waitlist to try the product as the company works out delivery logistics. Kumar added that the company is operating on a cash burn of around US$100,000-150,000 per month, spending US$50,000 on marketing alone. 

Ultrahuman is portraying its CGM-linked mobile app as the “world’s most advanced fitness metabolic platform”. The claim has a boisterous ring of the product being fundamentally unique. Except that it isn’t. A host of companies, including US-based Levels, older Indian companies such as fitness and healthtech platform HealthifyMe, and sugar.fit—a spin-off of rival fitness and healthtech platform cult.fit—have all been dabbling in the space. Ultrahuman, with its private beta mode, is still only halfway there. 

While Ultrahuman has a strong brand, a product design play that may interest do-it-yourself (DIY) fans, sugar.fit’s ultra.fit takes a more conservative approach, offering assistance from doctors and phlebotomists. HealthifyMe Pro, too, provides a system of coaches and nutritionists. All three companies have tapped US-based manufacturer Abbott Labs for sensors. 

Curiosity about the CGM experience led The Ken to try out the Ultrahuman and ultra.fit apps.