Lubu has developed a shoe insole that collects and analyzes data with every step, using artificial intelligence.

Luca Buratto wants to bring wearable technology like Fitbits and Apple Watches to your feet. 

Buratto, the founder and CEO of the wellness startup Lubu, has developed a shoe insole that collects and analyzes data with every step, using artificial intelligence. The goal is to help athletes and customers prevent injury and analyze their performance. 

“Every step you take has a huge impact on your body,” Buratto said. “And every step is influencing your well-being, from your neck to your ankle, passing from your spine, your hips, your knees.” 

Buratto and co-founder and chief technology officer Ahmed Issaoui are members of the second cohort of Fort Worth’s Techstars physical health accelerator. The program takes 10 startups from across the world and brings them to the city to develop and pitch their ideas to investors. Other startups in the Fort Worth cohort include: 

Brilliantly: Which makes wearable warming technology to put under clothes. 

Comeback Mobility: A startup making a device on crutches that will tell patients the right amount of force needed to recover from an injury.

Comma: An integrated menstrual health company making the first HIPAA-compliant period tracking app. 

Hera Fertility: A clinic offering technology-driven diagnosis and telehealth consultations relating to infertility. 

Maya AI: A voice-based artificial intelligence agent that helps scientists extract data. 

Pulse Charter Connect: Which automates the process of organ transport logistics. 

Somos: A healthcare and wellness app for Latin Americans to help people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. 

Vessl Prosthetics: Which creates a comfortable socket for prosthetic limbs. 

Xplosion Technology: A digital health platform aimed at adolescent diabetes management. 

The Fort Worth Techstars accelerator is funded by $4.8 million in American Rescue Act funds from Fort Worth and Tarrant County and about $10 million from real estate investment firm Goff Capital and The University of North Texas Health Science Center for three years. 

Buratto’s goal is to launch the product in the second half of 2024 and open its pre-seed round before the end of the year. 

Buratto is from Montebelluna, Italy, which he calls the “Silicon Valley of the footwear industry,” and comes from a family who also owns a foot-care research company. A competitive rugby player, he wishes he could have prevented injuries growing up.

“I was very frustrated by being surrounded by amazing people such as my coach, my personal trainer and my physical therapist,” he said. “But none of those (people) was able to prevent my injuries.” 

The insoles will collect data and show users analyses on their phones, such as a pressure heat map that displays what areas of their foot they put pressure on. 

One of Lubu’s goals is to work with the Human Movement Performance Laboratory at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and also interact with athletes from the university for their product. This is Buratto’s first time in Texas, and he said he likes Fort Worth so far. It’s too soon to tell whether he will base his operations here, he said. Right now, he’s focused on making the most of the Techstars program and often works 15-16 hours a day.

“Every single class, every single mentor is so compelling and interesting, that it’s worth it to spend time on that,” he said. “But that means that … at the end of the day you start like, six to eight hours with Techstars, and then from that moment on your workday starts.”

Trey Bowles, managing director of the Fort Worth Techstars physical health accelerator, said part of the goal of the program is to encourage entrepreneurship in the city. 

“I think that’s a fundamental piece of what we’re trying to accomplish with the program here,” Bowles said. “But from Techstars perspective, it’s about making good investments that provide a return to our investors and limited partners.”

Bowles said he’s seen more resources for entrepreneurs since launching the program last year, with the creation of Create Fort Worth, a co-working and accelerator space. Bowles is on the city’s entrepreneurship and innovation committee and is a chairman emeritus at the DEC Network, the organization that formed Create Fort Worth. The Techstars cohort is currently taking up the top floor of the space. 

Bowles said several startups from the first cohort are working in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, such as Stabl and Articulate Labs. Mental health platform ZAMA Health is kicking off a pilot with the University of Texas at Arlington, he said. He said Techstars is continuing to expand partnerships across North Texas for the companies in the cohort.

“There’s just an amazing amount of opportunity to help,” Bowles said. “And I think the unique thing about Fort Worth is that people are willing to do that. We continue to see great support from the mayor, the city council and the city. And we’re going to continue to see that as Create Fort Worth builds and grows more.” 

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

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Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....