My guest today is Will Ahmed, founder of fitness wearable company WHOOP. What started as a business plan in 2011 has evolved into the 24/7 health-tracking device you’ll often see on athletes across professional sports. During our conversation, Will and I discuss how his own backstory ties into the founding of WHOOP, the key design decisions they made in the ultra-competitive wearables market, and how the company grew slowly before inflecting in recent years. Will shares awesome details on health tracking and what it might look like in the future as a preventative tool rather than simply a tracking tool. I hope you enjoy this great conversation with Will Ahmed.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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[00:02:45] - [First question] - The founding story of WHOOP
[00:05:45] - Narrowing in on the problem to focus on solving
[00:08:58] - Overview of analyzing and quantifying recovery, strain, and sleep
[00:15:52] - Downsizing the problem set to deliver an affordable solution
[00:18:48] - What he’s learned about hardware product road mapping
[00:21:43] - How many people wear their WHOOP all-day
[00:22:05] - Early lessons from taking their wearable tech product to market
[00:26:25] - Ways in which they landed their first high-profile athletic brand ambassadors
[00:27:55] - Interesting methods that proved successful in their marketing tactics
[00:32:06] - Observations of making the switch to a subscription service
[00:34:00] - Why big apparel companies failed where WHOOP didn’t
[00:35:20] - Changes in behavior from users who learn about their habits using WHOOP
[00:40:18] - His philosophy on business partnerships and how he developed it
[00:44:56] - How he ended up with a paddle from the Navy Seals
[00:47:13] - Ways WHOOP stays ahead and upcoming trends in the wearable tech space
[00:50:13] - Data beyond HRV that will become more accessible and affordable to track
[00:51:09] - The extent that data and software relative to hardware are a key part of WHOOP
[00:53:06] - Lessons learned about effective leadership on a personal level
[00:56:13] - Notable differences in his leadership style from then compared to now
[00:57:34] - Thoughts about business defensibility in such a competitive space
[00:59:44] - Reasons behind why WHOOP products don’t have a screen
[01:02:13] - Valuable lessons for other entrepreneurs when studying WHOOP’s story
[01:05:03] - Systems in place that allow for their speed and pace of growth
[01:06:31] - What makes a day of work fun for him
[01:08:39] - Why we shouldn’t measure our steps
[01:10:01] - What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for him