January 26, 2021
Good morning! In this episode on The Radcast, host Ryan Alford chats with the CEO and Founder of Whoop, Will Ahmed.
Welcome to another episode on The Radcast! In this episode, host Ryan Alford chats with CEO and Founder of Whoop, Will Ahmed.
Whoop's mission is to help everyone learn about their body, so they can perform at their best. Whoop tracks your sleep, recovery, respiratory rates, and more.
Will discusses what lead him to start Whoop, and the impact Whoop is having in the health, fitness, and sports industries. Will also shares encouragement and tips for those pursuing their own entrepreneur journey.
Ryan and Will have a great conversation from start to finish. They discuss the growth of the Whoop brand, marketing strategies, and what's next for both Will and Whoop.
You can find Will on Instagram @Willahmed | You can find Whoop on Instagram @Whoop | Visit their website at https://www.whoop.com/
If you enjoyed this episode, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We love to hear from you! | Do you want to hear more from our host? - Give him a follow @ryanalford on Instagram. | The Radcast is a product of @radical_results | #theradcast #radicalmarketingresults
Announcement[00:00:05]You're listening to The RADcast. If it's radical, we cover it. Here's your host, Ryan Alford.
Ryan Alford[00:00:14]Hey, guys, what's up?This is Ryan Alford. Welcome to the latest edition of The RADcast. It is the middle of the week here. We're on a Wednesday recording this. You'll hear this on a Tuesday. But I'm really excited to be joined today by Will Ahmed, the founder, and CEO of Whoop. What's up, Will?
Will Ahmed[00:00:34]How are we doing, Ryan? Thanks for having me.
Ryan Alford[00:00:35]Yeah, man, my pleasure. I really appreciate you getting on. I know you're a busy man and I definitely want to get into it. I know we talked a little bit pre-episode. You're in the lovely Boston area. Are we keeping warm there? Any snow on the ground?
Will Ahmed[00:00:51]No, no snow right this minute, but I'm sure it's coming.
Ryan Alford[00:00:55]Oh, yeah. We're getting into it a little bit. In South Carolina, we don't get to see much of the white stuff. We're an hour to the mountains and two hours or so to the beach, but we don't get a lot of white stuff. So, I'm a little jealous because I did live in Manhattan for a little while and miss it a little bit, getting off at least a little bit of snow here and there, and my kids would enjoy it. But nonetheless, I appreciate you getting on. I definitely want, you know, we usually just start with kind of getting your background and talking about the business and things like that. So maybe for everyone listening, you know, just a little bit of your story and you know, what started Whoop and all of those things. So let's start there.
Will Ahmed[00:01:37]Yeah, so I run a business today called Whoop, which is really on a mission to unlock human performance. We build wearable technology. You can see on my wrist here, that’s designed to measure everything about your body. And I think what makes Whoop different from other products on the market is that we've proven it can change behavior and improve health. So if you want to get fitter, if you want to lose weight, if you want to figure out how you can get more sleep, you want to be a better executive, you name it, Whoop is a product that that has had a lot of success in helping you, or we'll have a lot of success in helping you. I got into this space personally because I was always into sports and exercise. I grew up playing just a bunch of different sports, and I ended up playing squash at Harvard. So, I was a collegiate athlete and I felt like I didn't really know what I was doing to my body while I was training. I was someone who used to overtrain, which is kind of a sin. You get fitter and fitter and fitter, and then you fall off a cliff, so that. And I think a lot of it, like I think a lot of hard driving people, whether it's overtraining or burning out, don't have the right balance in their life, so anyway. For me at a young age, I realized I didn't have the right balance in my life and I got very interested in what I could measure about my body to better understand it. What does it mean to train optimally? What does it mean to be healthy? These are just sort of basic questions that I was surprised that there wasn't like a whole technology, business, whatnot around. And, I did a lot of physiology research while I was at Harvard. I read something like 500 medical papers while I was in school, which was frankly a lot. And I wrote a paper around how I thought you could continuously measure the human body, and that paper really became the business plan for Whoop. So I founded the company in my senior year, and by summer of 2012, we were kind of off for the races, and so we have been building the business for, you know, eight and a half years now, and it's been quite a journey, and right now we're having a lot of success.
Ryan Alford[00:04:09]Well, yeah, it couldn't be a better time period, we'll get to that in the implications for covid, which have been really interesting. You know, and I am aware myself, shameless plug, there, for you. I have been about only, I guess four weeks or so is right around the hall a little before the holidays. So, it's been fascinating. I do want to ask you a couple of questions when we get into it, but I did find some interesting stuff, you know, with how you started the company. I read, you know, some of the GQ articles, a few other things. And it was really interesting to me this notion of the contrarian belief with which you started, because when I think about it, I've worn every wearable and a lot of my friends and the people that I run with, you know, like we’re everything and it's always about heart risks, like the same old things as heart rate, what's your fitness level, you know, how much exertion have you had? And you kind of flip the whole thing on its head, looking at the other side of it, which is the recovery aspect. Is it just you're a smart guy and you thought through that on the other side, or like what kind of took you down that path of recovery and sleep, and the importance of all those things?
Will Ahmed[00:05:22]Yeah, it's a great question. You know, when I was a college athlete, and I would talk to other athletes and I would talk to coaches about training optimally, so much of the focus was on training. And in fact, around when I knew I was going to start Whoop, I went and interviewed coaches and said, you know, if you could have technology to understand your athletes better, what would you want that technology to be able to do? And it was always so focused on practice games, training, you know, it was, you know, could we get better video analysis? Could we get a better weightlifting strain? Could we get better sweat analysis? And what I realized is that there was a blind spot and the blind spot was what's actually going on the other twenty two hours of the day. And I also realized just personally that that's probably where I was falling over. It's that I thought if I did a great practice and really worked my ass off, it almost didn't matter what I did after that. You know, I could stay up late, I could party, I could, you know, whatever. And, it couldn't have been further from the truth. But in fact, I was erasing all the gains of training by not recovering properly; and it's so obvious to see that today. But for whatever reason, ten years ago, that was somewhat like a contrarian point of view. And I think it was also around the time where exercise had sort of top-ticked on the pendulum. You know, it was not can you do a two a day? Could you even be doing a three a day? You know, it was just this crazy. Like more is more is more. And the other thing that I was interested in is that when I talked to coaches about, well, what problems are you trying to solve? What are your biggest issues? It always came back to availability and injuries. You know, this idea that coaches had athletes who would get injured or would overtrain or weren't actually able to play on the day of the game that they needed to play. And so this is a good insight for any entrepreneurs listening to this, I would encourage you to ask your customers what their problems are, not necessarily ask them what solutions they think you should build. It's your responsibility as an entrepreneur, as a business leader, to figure out what the solution should be to their problems. And often customers are phenomenal at describing problems and less capable at describing solutions. And so that's what I realized, you know, I've realized this years later. But in that moment in time, I was just recognizing a better way to solve their problems, and that was around understanding recovery and sleep. And we've talked about this, Ryan, from a very sports centric point of view. Admittedly, Whoop’s origins are in sports. You know, we had the best athletes in the world wearing Whoop from the very early days. Two of our first hundred members were people like LeBron James and Michael Phelps. So we just started at this, you know, tip of the pyramid. However, today, which really is, Whoop is a big business now. We're serving virtually every type of person. And I think what holds the Whoop audience together is that it's a somewhat aspirational group of people who have something in their life they want to exceed at or improve at, and they can use Whoop to find this balance, to understand how much they're sleeping, how much they're recovering, what the strain is that they're putting on their body, how different behaviors in their life are affecting their body. And they can use that information to perform at a higher level. So, we very authentically took a formula that made the best athletes in the world effective, and have now been able to deliver it to a much wider market.
Ryan Alford[00:09:30]I love that, especially the notion of balance, because, you know, when you think about, you know, motivation and the people, you know, like you mentioned, you know, eight-ten years ago, especially on social media, whether it's a high performing person or an athlete or a business person, it was always like, well, how how can I sleep three hours at night and how can I get, you know, more out of my day? But the issue with that, and having gone through some of that myself, is, you know, that seems to work for, you know, individually maybe a month or two, but then you burn yourself out. Maybe the highest performers and the best athletes can make that last longer. But this notion of recovery and balance in your life, in general, I think is dead on. And obviously why I think you're building success, because there's not been that point of view from the other fitness trackers and the other things out there until, even to this day, and having been in the space a little bit, I started hearing about you guys and it just felt right. And so, I think you're going to, you know, get more, you're obviously mainstream now with the PGA Tour agreement and all that, I do want to talk about that. Can you talk about, before I get into maybe some of those bullet points, like for those, you know, we have had a lot of CEO types who were aspiring entrepreneurs and things like that for the podcast. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, building the company, you know, some of the nuts and bolts of the realities of being an entrepreneur, a young entrepreneur and, you know, having an idea, bringing it to life, because I think a lot of people think that stuff happens overnight. But you know Whoop’s eight-nine years in the making now, and now you're seeing, you know, the fruits of this, and that's been building. But can you talk a little bit about it from that entrepreneurs and business growth standpoint?
Will Ahmed[00:11:24]Yeah, I'll start I'll start with a positive point of view, or at least I'll frame it as positive, which is that, starting a company and building a business is much harder than you think it'll end up being, but it's not nearly as hard as probably most people in your life will tell you, which is that it's impossible. You know, I think that the hardest thing for me in building Whoop was less so on the actual business side of it, but more so me being comfortable growing into running today, what is now, you know, a business valued over a billion dollars. Like, how do you grow into that? How are you making sure that you personally are advancing as a leader? And how do you deal with criticism along the way, self-doubt along the way? You know, it's a very vulnerable role being an entrepreneur because it exposes you. It exposes you to what your your weaknesses are in such an obvious, transparent way, and what your strengths are, too, which is in why in so many ways, I think people overstate the risks to starting a company or overstate the risks associated with being an entrepreneur, because the process for becoming an entrepreneur, for starting something reveals so much about who you are as a business leader, what your strengths are, your character, where your holes are, what you need to improve. I mean, it reveals that so rapidly and so effectively, that regardless of whether the business ends up being a success, you as an individual have learned so much about yourself, and what it actually takes, that you will go on most likely to do incredibly great things afterwards. So I'll just say that sort of first and foremost, the process for becoming an entrepreneur and for building a business, I think is an incredibly powerful one, for anyone listening. Yes, but the other thing that I'll say is that, there's this thing that happens, at least it happened to me, where you start a company and you start immediately comparing yourself to like the best entrepreneurs, you know, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, whatever, right, like, these people wouldn't be struggling with this thing. And here I am. I've got, you know, four people on my team and two of them are co-founders. And I'm struggling to get the fifth person like, gosh, like they would just never would have had to deal with this. And I think that's a really unhealthy mindset and one that I overcame as well, where you're trying to compare yourself to other executives, other leaders, other entrepreneurs. And really you just have to focus on how can you become a better version of yourself in this role? And I'll bet you, that when those heroes, that we think of today as entrepreneurs, were first starting a company, they didn't know that much more than you did. I mean, I really believe that. I think the key thing that they did much faster than everyone else is how they got better themselves. And it's why if you look at what they've been able to accomplish later in their careers, it's so powerful. And it's why many of the best entrepreneurs also have these sort of failed early startups in their careers, too, or things that weren't nearly as successful as what they did later. So, again, I come back to this idea that you have to keep comparing yourself to yourself, on that growth journey.
Ryan Alford[00:15:16]I like that and, you know, you didn't say it, but again, I've read enough about, you know, your process and that notion of a lot of those you just named, the ambition in the idea and making sure that's grand enough, so that, you know, you're you're kind of beating your competition ahead of the game, which I really like, because I think a lot of people box themselves in the limits of the idea because it may seem easier. But while you're at it, while you're going to all of these links, be ambitious! And, you know, I think that's what you've done with Whoop. And, you know, I don't have every man's shirt on you guys' competitive radar and all that but, you're already so far ahead, you know, that I think that's what some of the best entrepreneurs have done, whether that was, you know, Bezos or Jobs, or whatever. You know, it was so ambitious. And, you know, can you touch on that a bit? I mean, for the listeners that may not have read every article I already have.
Will Ahmed[00:16:18]Yeah. You know, look, I think that, again, back to this moment, like early stage of the company, one of the things that I constantly was told was that the vision for Whoop was too ambitious, that why are you trying to build hardware and software and analytics and design it all from scratch and manufacture it all from scratch. And I believe it, well, the key is that you need to have this vertically integrated system so that you control every element of it. So you, at the end of the day, could actually deliver on this value. You know, people would say to me, why don't you just build software on top of the Fitbit, or software on top of the Apple Watch or whatever, right? And I thought that was such a flawed way to think about the market, and it totally missed the actual problem that you were trying to solve and the end user experience for the customer, which at the end of the day is the most important thing. And so this was a recurring piece of criticism, and in fact, I'll just say broadly, I think that the more ambitious your idea is, the more potential it is, that's obvious. But it has all these lists, it has all these other benefits that you sort of don't fully appreciate in the moment. The first is, for example, that you end up being able to recruit insanely good talent, like the best, best talent by far. You know, today Whoop has a ninety six percent job offer-acceptance rate, which in the world of engineering is kind of unheard of. And the reason we have such a high job acceptance rate is that what we're doing is so hard that it attracts these insanely competent people because they want to work on the hardest problems. You know, it's why SpaceX and Tesla, for example, also have, I'm sure, amazing engineers because they're doing stuff that's on the cutting edge. So, if you're doing stuff on the cutting edge, I think you inherently have these advantages of being able to attract really great talent. You also have the opportunity to work with other very cool brands because those brands want to associate themselves with the next thing, like the cool cutting edge thing. I mean, look, it has limitations, right? Or challenges. First of all, you have to raise a lot of capital. This was something I got better at over time. Whoop has raised like two hundred million dollars. I mean, at this point, over 200 million dollars of capital in order to pursue this vision. And you said it yourself, you know, that we’ve been building the business for eight-nine years, so about six or seven years into it, the whole thing almost blew up or, you know, went bankrupt, you know. So, you know, are you willing to really put that much time into something to see your vision through? I think you also need to know that if you're going to take something on that’s super ambitious
Ryan Alford[00:19:19]How’s, you know, on the raising capital side, and I know we could go down this road for more time than we have, but what was that like for you? You know, being, you know, a young entrepreneur, you've got a great idea, you're building it. Did you know that that was the path? I mean, were you just insightful enough, or did you have people telling you get this where you got to go, you're going to take on investors and once you to took on investors, did you feel more pressure of suddenly, not that you aren't the owner, you're still the CEO, the founder, you still have a lot of skin in the game but, what was that? You know, what was that like?
Will Ahmed[00:20:00]You know, I think it's like a lot of things that we discussed where, again, you have to keep getting better at it. I think, you know, for example, raising the first seven hundred grand as a 22 year old founding Whoop, was harder than the last round of financing in which we raised one hundred million dollars. So, don't, you know, don't ever look at the headline big number. All of these things are relative to the stage that you're at, the proof points that you're at, and also how much time you've spent raising money. I mean, now I've spent nine years learning how to raise capital, so, I think I've started to understand the ins and outs and what investors are looking for and what they're not looking for. So anyway, I bring up those two numbers, though, just for your audience to appreciate, right? Just because you're having a hard time raising that first 250 grand or that first million dollars or whatever it is, it doesn't mean you can't go on to raise an enormous amount of capital. It's just learning the fundraising process. The other thing I'll say that I feel fortunate about is that I have raised capital from investors that I've built great relationships with over time. And I will say that, you know, when you take capital from someone, it's like a marriage, except that you can't get divorced. I mean, there's a real bond that happens there, that you're now both on the cap table. And so, you know, you need to just be pretty thoughtful about that. And I would also say that you don't want to take any capital. You want to make sure that there's some real alignment around what the vision is for that capital. And that's been another thing that I think has boded well for Whoop in being very ambitious. You know, it's self selected out investors who were maybe at the early stage, scared of losing their money. They knew that there were some real technology risks, and so, they said let's take it on. Whereas now at a later stage, you know, it's more of a business model story. You have to think about these things relative to the stage as well.
Ryan Alford[00:22:16]You know, transitioning a bit, we are marketing-podcast. I mean, what were, you know, maybe some of the successful, you know, marketing tactics or, you know, in the early days versus now, I mean, obviously with the PGA agreement it certainly helps when you have a killer product and you get some organic things already happening. You know, and anybody would love to have, you know, LeBron or Justin Thomas, or whoever, you know, throw your band on. And I mean, I know some of those are starting to probably become paid engagements, but, you know, maybe talk about some of the early marketing tactics versus where we're at now.
Will Ahmed[00:23:01]Well, one strong point of view I had around the product was that it needed to be able to be good enough such that a famous person, a professional athlete, someone who wanted to improve, would wear Whoop and we weren't going to pay them. Like essentially we didn't need to sponsor everyone who wore the product. And I said that if the product delivered on its value proposition was, which was that it could measure recovery, it could tell you how hard to work out, it could tell you when to go to bed, it could make you a better athlete, person, you name it, then people should pay us for that. And by the way, if it didn't deliver on those things, there was no amount of money we could pay someone to wear something 24/7 that they weren't getting value out of. I mean, ask yourself, how many things in your life do you wear 24/7? And so, you know, and we saw that.
Ryan Alford[00:23:56]Very few.
Will Ahmed[00:23:58]Yeah, right. So we saw this with, like the Nike fuel band, for example, which was, you know, sort of a Fitbit-like wearable in 2013 or 2014, and they had athletes like LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Serena Williams. And meanwhile, none of those athletes were wearing the Nike fuel band, even though they were paying these guys like hundreds of millions of dollars. So, it was obvious to me that we were never going to sort of pay our way into the sports world. We needed to authentically build the best product and that we held that to such a high bar that it became actually a marketing strategy and that athletes paid for Whoop, we didn't sponsor them. And that was a really strong point of view, and what it did is then when you saw these athletes wearing the product, it had a real authenticity around it. And so we were able to authentically build a brand, which was also a marketing strategy, you know, we said early on we wanted to be a brand, not every company needs to be a brand to be successful. But we believe that health monitoring as a broad landscape would consolidate around brands that, you know, it would make all the sense in the world that a company that owned human performance would be a brand. And so, while the product, I've always wanted to build a product that added value for really a wide, I would say, a wide audience of people — added value for a wide audience of people. The brand, I always liked the idea of it being anchored around high-end performance. You know, I think that so much of what we learned in health and fitness has come from professional athletes. And, I think it's often taken for granted. The fact, for example, that. weightlifting, really, you know, started with pro-athletes in the 90s, you know, it wasn't that long ago. I mean, so let's call that 25, maybe 30 years tops where most professional athletes lifted weights. I mean, now you can't go to a hotel in America that doesn't have a gym. And that story, I think, just permeated directly through sports, into society. And so I've believed for a while that the next version of that story will be around sleep and recovery. And you're starting to actually see this happen, right? You read a 5000 word ESPN report on, like, LeBron James spending a million dollars a year on his body to recover, right? Like, it's just the news angle that people are talking about, sleep and recovery. And so I think a lot of that story is being told by the best athletes in the world. And so, I always wanted Whoop to be anchored in sports. And so, as a result, that's also where we've looked for big marketing partnerships. Whoop just became the official recovery wearable of the PGA Tour. So, that's a, you know, a situation where every member of the PGA Tour is going to be wearing Whoop and we're going to be creating a lot of cool visualizations around data for those players. Although, again, the reason that deal came to be, Ryan, was that all those golfers were actually wearing Whoop organically, and that's where we realized, oh, this is going to be a great partnership because these guys organically like the product. So, hopefully that puts a bow on some of what I'm saying here, where you want to find people who are authentically, organically, use your product and then help tell stories with that.
Ryan Alford[00:27:35]Yeah, I love it. So, I'm sure, like you just mentioned, the organic with PGA Tour, I mean, is there anything you can talk about? I mean, I'm not asking you for, like, numbers of, but I'm assuming this is a paid agreement between Whoop and PGA, on some level. But you're also giving them data. I mean, there's a lot, there's a fairly equal, not equal, but there's a mutual exchange happening there, for both them and you, Not to mention, you know, so maybe start there but, the covid aspect, which was just fascinating, with Nick Watney this past summer, and the notion of the advanced data that you guys are getting with these things are now leading to potential, if not early, real time, you know, signals that someone might have covid. I know that was kind of a dual question there, but anything more specific you can say around the PGA agreement, you know, as far as, you know, how that will work and things like that?
Will Ahmed[00:28:34]Well, our PGA Tour relationship probably goes back a couple of years now where we discovered that about 50 percent of the PGA Tour was organically wearing the product, and in the way that I would discover that is just by watching golf on the weekend and I would see it on all their wrists. And so, I got to know a bunch of the players in that process, and then covid hits, and Golf says it wants to be one of the first sports that comes back. And Nick Watney, who was one of the professional golfers who had worn Whoop for a long time, tested negative for covid-19 on a Tuesday, the tournament's on a Thursday. He plays in the tournament on Thursday, wakes up on Friday and looks at his Whoop data, right? So, he looks in the Whoop app and he sees that his recovery is incredibly low. Recovery is like this metric, we give from zero to one hundred percent, red, yellow and green. He's got a red recovery, which means his body's really run down, and he also had something on Whoop which is called an elevated respiratory rate. So, what is that? Respiratory rate is a measurement of breaths per minute. So, you know, most people have on average about 10 to 20 breaths per minute, while they're sleeping. And it's a very static statistic. It really doesn't change. So, Nick Watney, if you looked at his data for 10 months, every single day, he would wake up with a respiratory rate of 14. It's a very boring statistic, it doesn't change. However, this morning, he wakes up with this red recovery, and a respiratory rate of 18 and a half breaths per minute. So, for 10 months, no change. And then all of a sudden it's 18 and a half breaths per minute! And we had just published all this research showing that an elevated respiratory rate could be a predictor of covid-19. Now, that's quite a statement. Why would we say that? Well, we had thousands of Whoop members get tested for covid-19, and we saw that the ones who tested positive all had this elevated respiratory rate. And in fact, an elevated respiratory rate caught about 80 percent of the cases, who are these Whoop members who got covid-19. Now, this is published research. It's been peer reviewed. I encourage listeners to look it up. So, we have this peer reviewed research that shows an elevated respiratory rate can be a predictor of covid-19, and Nick Watney sees that he has this super elevated respiratory rate. Now, just to be clear, why does it matter that you have an elevated respiratory rate? Covid-19 is a lower respiratory tract infection. So, it makes all the sense in the world that if you have a lower respiratory tract infection, your respiratory rate would go way up. Anyway, Nick goes to see the doctors on this morning instead of playing in the tournament. He says, look, I think I should be tested again. They say, look, you're cleared to play. He says, no, I've got an elevated respiratory rate on Whoop. They say, what is Whoop? You can be good, etc. They test him again, and…
Ryan Alford[00:31:54]What is this Whoop we're talking about? Who were you out with last night?
Will Ahmed[00:31:59]Yeah! So, you know, so they test him again, and sure enough, he tests positive and he's able to drop out of the tournament. And within twenty four hours of the PGA Tour learning of this story from Nick and the background, they procured a thousand Whoop straps, not just for every player on the tour, but also for every caddie, every media member, everyone in the bubble, because, again, if you're creating a bubble, you want to have, you know, everyone, everyone as safe as possible. So, that was this summer, and then over the course of the past six months, you know, we started talking about what would be a partnership that could one benefit player health, but two, also help elevate the Whoop brand and do some things around fan engagement that may be unique, and that's where we came up with this idea of Whoop Live. And Whoop Live is essentially our brand name for putting physiological data on videos. So, you can do this in the group app even. If you go to the camera, you can put your heart rate, you can put your calories, you can put your strain, in real time, on top of a video. And so, we got thinking about, well, what if you were watching golf in real time and you could see Rory McIlroy’s heart rate as he's putting on 18, or you could see what his body, what was happening inside his body during a high pressure moment. And so, that's where we came up with this idea of Whoop Live, and we're going to have a lot more to come with it. Hopefully, the marketers listening to us can appreciate how fun of an idea it is. Oh, and yeah. So it's a five year deal, and a lot of it comes down to improving player health and performance, and creating Whoop Live, which we think is going to improve the broadcast experience and improve the fan experience.
Ryan Alford[00:34:01]Yeah, it's awesome. And yeah, we'll see. You'll probably be a whole – I can just think of the applications of who's got the lowest heart rate over the most critical putts, you know. I bet you it's, you know, Brandt Snedeker, or one of the really good putters, they probably just have, like, a flatline heart rate or something. I don't know.
Will Ahmed[00:34:24]Yeah, I mean, I don't know either. But it's intriguing.
Ryan Alford[00:34:27]It's very intriguing.
Will Ahmed[00:34:28]One of the interesting things about covid was, you know, they started showing all these replays of old sporting events and, you know, you're watching the Masters in !997 or the Super Bowl in the early 2000s, or whatever, and I remember thinking to myself, like, gosh, this is over 20 years ago and how can I tell that it's over 20 years ago versus the broadcast today? And really the only difference I mean, the only meaningful difference is the resolution of the camera.
Will Ahmed[00:35:04]And if you think about how much our world has changed in the last 20 years, you know, doesn't that seem kind of underwhelming?
Will Ahmed[00:35:12]And I think professional sports broadly has gone through this sort of crazy bull run. You know, you bought a sports team, it went up. You're a player, point guard, all star in 2010 versus 2020, you're now making more money. It's like everything's just been up to the right, and so, When you're winning, innovation comes more slowly, right? And I think what's about to happen, and we're starting to see this with some serious ratings declining for certain sports leagues, what we're starting to see is the evidence that there is a younger generation coming up that is glued to their phones. I mean, a lot of generations are glued to their phones but, pro-sports today are competing with TikTok, Netflix, sleep, you know, like they're competing with things that 20 years ago maybe they weren't competing with the same way. And I mean, you know, those things barely existed 20 years ago, you know, in the case of at least TikTok and some of these other social platforms. So, I just think that you're going to need to see pro-sports adapt and innovate in a way that they haven't. And I think, you know, the leagues that do are going to continue to thrive. And I think that, you know, in the next 10 years, we may see a major sports league disappear…
Will Ahmed[00:36:40] …if they don't innovate, you know, I think there could be real trouble ahead.
Ryan Alford[00:36:42]Yeah. Baseball might be on that list. I mean, talk about just the speed of the game, and, you know, golf's playing with that, too, and I think that's why it's brilliant to be integrating things like this that make it more interesting, the data points, the live aspect, because, you know, golf's biggest complaint for non-players watchers is just the speed of the game as well. So, they're doing things like this that make a ton of sense for making that a more engaging experience, because, look, there's only so much you can do to speed up the game. So, you've got to add interesting things that make the engagement, you know, more to the attention spans of today. And let's face it, when in the TikTok world we live in, for a younger audience that spans, I think, exactly 8.7 seconds, maybe less.
Will Ahmed[00:37:26]Yeah. Yeah. So, anyway, you know, I hope Whoop can play a role in that innovation but, I'm also a sports fan, so I hope that all the leagues are thinking right now, like, what can we do differently, and taking that very seriously.
Ryan Alford[00:37:42]Well, as we close out, Will, and I appreciate your time on this, but where are we going? I mean, you know, obviously you were way ahead of the game. It's landing perfect for you with being in the position you are, not that anyone's pitching for a pandemic by any means, I know that. But your position, well, because there's just more overall awareness of health and recovery and all these things, and obviously the benefits that Whoop has with identifying maybe some of those markers. So, again, being an innovative company, though, what's the endgame for you, maybe with both the business and for yourself personally? And I know that's a loaded statement, maybe not an endgame, but, you know, where do we want to see things go?
Will Ahmed[00:38:25]You know, I do think that wub has the opportunity to be like a massive standalone business, much bigger even than we are today, and I think a lot of our responsibility is going to be. Helping individuals understand and improve their health, and it's no easy thing to change behavior. It really isn't. And it's certainly no easy thing to improve health. But, you know, we as a society are realizing from a global pandemic that feelings are kind of overrated. You know, you can have this virus and be asymptomatic and give it to a loved one. And it gets that person incredibly sick and God forbid they die, right? And so, I think, you know, I think everyone's sort of waking up to this realization that feelings are overrated. And in fact, there may be things that you can measure about your body that can help you understand the status of your body. You think about the healthcare system today. It costs a fortune, and it's so inefficient. For example, should I go see a doctor on a random day of the year, or should I go see a doctor 30 minutes before something's about to happen? You know, I mean, to me, all this, everything around medicine and health care improves when it's preventative, versus curative. All the cost reductions are optimized around preventative care. And so, I think wearable technology can play a huge role on the preventative side of this and creating awareness. And then when something does happen, providing that alert. So, you'll see it over time, Whoop will play a much bigger role in health broadly. And there's a lot of horrible things that have come from this global pandemic. But one positive I would take from it is that I think society at large is now taking a very close look at the healthcare system, at broad health awareness, and is saying, yeah, this is something we really need to get right over the next decade.
Ryan Alford[00:40:45]I love it. So, what about you personally? I mean, you know, like do you see are you in, is this the brand, or is this you know, you never could really see Steve Jobs disconnected from Apple, I mean, as Will Ahmed and Whoop and, you know, do you see this being the forever ride or do you, like, see yourself being a serial entrepreneur?
Will Ahmed[00:41:10]Well, I'm someone who's all in until I'm not. So, you know, right now it's all in on Whoop, it's making Whoop the biggest success it can be. It's certainly a mission I'm incredibly passionate about. It's working with a group of people I'm incredibly passionate about , and who I think are exceptionally brilliant. And look, I got to keep growing too, you know. 12 months ago, Whoop had one hundred employees, today we've got three hundred and seventy five, right? The role of a CEO for one hundred people versus three seventy five is different, and I know we're going to blink and, you know, probably it will be seven hundred or a thousand. So, you know, I have to make sure I can keep growing, and so, that's exciting too.
Ryan Alford[00:41:58]I love it. And, you know, I think, you're blending what you're searching for, which is this humility combined with an intensity, that I feel, and I think you're going to get where you plan to go, and I really appreciate you coming on, Will Ahmed, founder and CEO. Tell everyone, Will, if they want to keep up with you and the brand, obviously all those locations where they can find you.
Will Ahmed[00:42:23]Yeah, you can learn more about Whoop, just at Whoop.com, that's W, H, O, O, P, dot com. You can find me on social media @WillAhmed and then at Whoop as well. And I also host a podcast where I interview, you know, interesting athletes, entrepreneurs, CEOs, you name it, and that's the Whoop podcast, and you can find that as well on everywhere podcasts are hosted.
Ryan Alford[00:42:55]Man, I really appreciate it, and really appreciate the time, and see big things for Whoop, I'm going to keep tracking my HRV and hopefully getting that up, it seems to fluctuate a bit. But, this all seems to come back to my five and a half hours of sleep, which needs to get up as well.
Will Ahmed[00:43:12]Keep that HRV high, keep the respiratory rate flat, keep the sleep disturbances low. You've got it all gone.
Ryan Alford[00:43:19]I'm going to keep doing it. Well let's, hey, man, I want to follow up with you the next day. You went from one hundred to 375, and let’s follow up in the next 8 to 12 months, and see where we're at then.
Will Ahmed[00:43:33]OK, that sounds good, Ryan, I appreciate your time. Thank you for having me on.
Ryan Alford[00:43:36]Thanks, Will. All right, guys, we really appreciate Will coming on today. You know where to find everything, the RADcast, that's the RADcast.com, @the.rad.cast on Instagram. And you know where to find me on Instagram @RyanAlford. And we really appreciate you listening in, and we'll see you next time.
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