On a recent Thursday morning in Cambridge, Mass., Alessandro Babini straps his company’s palm-size wearable device onto his arm. He’s the cofounder of a startup called Humon, which makes a next-generation fitness gadget. It monitors how well a user’s muscles are processing oxygen and then relays that information to an iPhone screen, which indicates whether the user can safely push a workout harder or should stop and recover. Although the product has been tested with Olympians, Babini sees the technology having applications beyond professional sports — helping improve health for the masses, as well as fostering a deeper understanding of how the body works.
“It seems crazy,” he says, “that people know more about the car they drive than about the body they put behind the steering wheel.” That’s typical entrepreneur-speak, of course: outrage at a problem that simply must be solved. And Babini — who is tall, with dark stubble and clad in the startup uniform of a plaid button-down and jeans — is in many ways the model entrepreneur. He quit a safe, lucrative job at a venture capital firm and shelled out $100,000 of his own money to obtain an MBA at MIT. He also says that he didn’t take a salary for Humon’s first year. And now he has a staff of four, along with several part-timers.
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