What is Whoop?
Whoop is an innovative company that has emerged as a leader in the wearables space. Its focus on helping users optimize their performance has made the Whoop band a “must-have” tool in many professional sports circles. Its fans include LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes, Rory McIlroy, Michael Phelps, and many more high-performance athletes across all sports. Fast Company recently named Whoop as the most innovative company of 2020 in the Wellness category, and now it has raised $100mm in funding to continue growing.
What makes it different?
The company describes itself as a platform that combines hardware, software, and analytics to track your performance and help you better understand your body. The wearable is now in its third generation and consists of a wristband that comes in a variety of styles.
Unlike a Fitbit or the Apple Watch, the Whoop band does not have a display screen. What it does is sit on your wrist to collect detailed information about what is going on inside your body. It then processes that data, displays it in an easy to understand way, and uses it to generate recommendations, primarily focused on how hard you should push yourself each day.
According to Will Ahmed, Whoop’s CEO, what makes the company stand apart from other wearables is the sheer amount of information it is capable of collecting on your individual performance.
“We collect between 50-100 megabytes of data daily from each user. More than any other wearable device out there.”
The data collected is focused on quantifying three pillars of performance: (1) strain; (2) recovery and (3) sleep.
Let’s break it down.
- Strain. Whoop tracks the amount of stress your body is experiencing. To do so, it tracks many markers including your average heart rate, your resting heart rate, and the amount of calories you burn during the day. These, together with other inputs, are then translated into a proprietary ranking. The ranking in turn drives the app’s “strain coach” recommendations.
- Recovery. The app tracks signals such as your heart rate variability (HRV), resting heart rate (RHR), and respiratory rate to determine how your body is adapting to the stress you are subjecting it to. These data points are analyzed, together with information about the quality of your sleep, to quantify how well you have recovered from the prior day’s strain.
- Sleep. Whoop tracks all aspects of sleep including: latency, duration of different sleep stages, cycles, disturbances, and efficiency. Based on its observations, the app can make recommendations such as hours of sleep needed for optimal recovery, or the ideal time to go to bed. The app takes into account whether you’ve underslept or taken naps during the day and adjusts its recommendations accordingly.
According to Ahmed,
“What makes it popular, is that Whoop is very good at helping you figure out how the different aspects of your life can affect your performance.”
One interesting detail signals the primacy that Whoop places on having that continuous flow of data to analyze: the band’s charger is really a battery pack that fits on top of the band. It works this way so that you don’t have to take the band off to charge it. This ensures there are no gaps in the data.
Interesting Business Model
Whoop also stands out in the wearables space in that it works as a subscription, rather than a one-time buy. You get the band for free and subscribe to the platform for $30 a month with a 6-month commitment. The price drops to $24 per month with a yearly subscription.
What You Can Do
We think the Whoop has very similar capabilities to the Oura ring. In terms of data collection, they seem to focus on the same areas. The main difference is the form factor (Oura claims a ring can retrieve data more accurately than a wrist band). Whoop has been smart to cater to professional athletes, probably the most demanding customers when it comes to performance. This has no doubt accelerated the company's learning curve.
We think choosing one over the other boils down to personal preference, but we do think using one is smart. The data your body generates over time can give you many insights and clues as to what is going on and how to improve. The longer you accumulate this information, the easier it will be to spot trends that can help guide your preventative healthspan strategy.