When Zach Maurides was an offensive lineman at Duke some 15 years ago, he and his teammates largely ate at the same campus dining hall as other students. It was rare at that time for schools to incorporate so-called “performance kitchens” to give elite athletes the precise level of nutrition they need.
As the focus on athlete nutrition evolved in recent years, Maurides saw an opportunity for Teamworks, his Durham, N.C.-based athlete engagement software company, to use technology to unlock the next frontier of athlete nutrition. That was the strategic thinking behind his company’s acquisition this week of Notemeal, a performance nutrition platform that connects dietitians, athletes and kitchens to optimize team nutrition.
In 2018, Maurides told On3, he looked on the horizon and saw a seismic shift coming with NIL. The next year, Teamworks acquired INFLCR, which immediately emerged as a leader in the NIL space. This year, he looked on the horizon and saw the untapped potential with nutrition.
“Our mission is to empower athletes,” Maurides said. “(Schools) have gone from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on nutrition to millions on nutrition. Usually what follows people and infrastructure is technology: ‘Hey, we’re making this really big investment. We need to use technology to optimize it to make sure it’s effective.’ We saw that pattern.”
Launched in 2019, Notemeal has been serving 14 NFL teams and nine Power 5 schools. But now it will broaden that reach to the 3,000-plus college teams that use Teamworks.
Sean Harrington, Notemeal’s co-founder and CEO, played football at Tufts before turning down a job at Google to become the director of software engineering for the New England Patriots, where he helped build a sophisticated analytics department. Harrington told On3 in an email that Teamworks provides a hub for all things related to communication and scheduling for the athlete, and that one of the focal points of performance nutrition assessment and consulting is timing.
“How much to eat is half the battle; when to eat is equally important,” Harrington said. “We envision a more integrated and personalized athlete experience that will better integrate class, practice and workout schedules directly into the athlete’s meal plan. We will bring together the ‘when,’ the ‘how much’ and the ‘what.’ ”
Athletes’ focus on nutrition has come a long way since, as Harrington said, athletes were advised to merely consume 40 grams of protein after workouts. He said the number of fulltime sports dietitians has grown five-fold in the past six years alone; the number of organizations with a performance nutrition department has increased four times during the same time period. Notemeal’s aim is to optimize athlete nutrition.
“The growth is exciting,” said Harrington, who will continue to lead Notemeal’s product and strategic direction. “If the past trends across other departments are indicative of the future, we will continue to see a technology explosion in this area, as industry-leading organizations get more ROI (return on investment) out of their staff and facilities using software-based solutions.”