Tech Tonics: Whoop Founder, Will Ahmed

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So much emphasis has been placed on fitness and wearables over the last five years and much has been made of whether these trackers can translate to better health or are just there to make people feel a sense of accomplishment. In their quest to be taken seriously, most of the focus has been on the consumer-directed products. But there is a whole other world of wearables out there used by elite athletes quietly tracking and counting to maximize performance.

Whoop Founder Will Ahmed turned his quest for personal squash supremacy into a business that uses wearables to enable pro athletes to perform at their best. In the brave new world of next generation moneyball, Whoop works with the Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Michael Phelps, US Olympians and others to look at cardiovascular, sleep, stress and other biometrics that can drive the difference between trophy and atrophy. In so doing, Whoop focuses on world champions, not weekend warriors. And speaking of Warriors of the Gold State variety, they are not a Whoop! client, alas.

Interestingly, the use of wearables in the world of sports can likely inform what we are doing in the world of healthcare. For instance, the density of data collected by Whoop is far beyond most of the wearables we all discuss most commonly. Additionally, the emphasis on how to use personal measurement data to increase athletic performance is miles far ahead of medicine yet both measure their results in increased revenue and realized savings. Both are grappling with who owns the data, whether it is being used to negotiate player contracts or to price health insurance products. Both fields recognize the importance of motivation and personalized goals to drive outcome, but the immediacy of winning in sports offers an unusually powerful motivation that we have yet to emulate in the healthcare world. Getting selected early in the NBA draft is a powerful motivator to strive for peak health; how do we translate that to the everyday person? And furthermore, how much data is the right amount and what is just noise?

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