Saks Snacks #15: Web 3 x Fitness x Health
Genopets & Move-to-earn Models | Metaverse | Flow | Enterprise Healthcare + MSK's Raises
Hi friends from Miami, FL 👋
As the Web3 rate of innovation continues at a blistering pace, it’ll be my mission to keep you up to date on the future of web 3 x health. We’re reversing the typical flow of content this week to do that.
This week has a balance of “snacks” (quicker industry updates) with a meal (longer form), diving into Web3 first.
I’ll adopt a philosophy from the prolific writer David Perell:
Like David, I started writing to explore what excites me in an innovative space, connect the dots and generate ideas as they emerge. As we explore the content below, this philosophy holds truer than ever.
The life of expression is the tuning fork by which we find our way to the sacred
Health Tech Meal
💡Big Ideas: Web 3, Metaverse, fitness x health (5 min read)
Part 3.1: Web3 Intro
Part 3.2: What’s going on with the metaverse?
Part 3.3: Genopets - a fitness x health x Web3 Intersection
Part 3.4: Other Move-to-earn & Metaverse(ish) examples
Part 3.5: Looking Forward
Health Tech Snacks
🥑 Snacks of the Week x 4
💰 Capital Raise Radar: 2 raises in enterprise healthcare and MSK
🎙️ Pods of the Week (x2): Flow and Building Web3 Communities
Let’s dive in!
#1💡 Big Ideas: Web 3, Metaverse, fitness x health
1.1: Web 3 Intro
Before we dive into the “metaverse” conversation, let’s look at a framework explaining our journey from web 1 ➡️ web 2 ➡️ web 3.
Web3 is the start of a decentralized internet that empowers users to recapture the value that they create. That’s where “own” comes in in the above tweet.
If this is a newer concept to you, I recommend this article on web 1/2/3, outlining the progression of the internet and how we view and value the internet.
Web3, the app layer of blockchain that is introducing new ways we’ll use the internet, has had quite a growing interest recently.
1.2: What’s going on with the metaverse?
Let’s not let the metaverse’s abstractness deter us from leaning in and learning.
You shared that you enjoyed Edition 13’s visual imagining what intersections between augmented reality and fitness could look like.
I want to help you visualize what the fitness metaverse could look like too.
Nike launched its own virtual world within Roblox (online video game platform) last week. While Nike is an early brand rushing to create the metaverse, you can expect several other health and fitness brands to be able to use the metaverse soon.
Zooming out, the metaverse has explicitly been a macro-goal for tech giants. We’d explored in August (edition 7) how Zuckerberg envisions Facebook transitioning from a social media company to a metaverse company in 5 years.
62 days later (things move quickly in Web3), Zuck rebranded Facebook to Meta.
How large of a movement is this? With aggressive growth and billions being spent on cloud gaming, the movement is based on the belief that this tech will underpin our “online-offline” future.
I wasn’t alive in the ’80s, but like Matthew Ball outlined in early 2020, the metaverse is hard to envision similar to the early internet:
"Just as it was hard to envision in 1982 what the Internet of 2020 would be — and harder still to communicate it to those who had never even “logged” onto it at that time — we don’t really know how to describe the Metaverse.
Similarly, here’s a video of Bill Gates getting ridiculed in 1995 for the internet
It’s easier to imagine the Metaverse just ~20 months after Matthew Ball’s comment, as cultural shifts and tech breakthroughs have collided quickly:
We’re becoming a digital species. Perhaps we’ve already become a digital species. We live online, we work online, we play online. The internet is our place for cultivating community, our place for unleashing creative expression.
This is a unique moment in time: technology breakthroughs are colliding with massive cultural shifts. Over the next decade, much of our analog world will be replicated in digital realms: land and buildings, clothing and furniture, jobs and economies. This migration is already underway. - Rex Woodbury
The US consumer media trends and data support this migration too, especially where younger generations are spending time and attention.
87% of Gen Z and 83% of Millennials play video games weekly, with the two digitally-native generations also “accounting for 89% of total users of online or app-based workouts”.
1.3 Genopets - a fitness x health x Web3 Intersection
Okay… where and how do fitness and health come into play?
Let’s first explore Genopets, “the world’s first move-to-earn NFT game” incentivizing healthy lifestyles, which we covered in edition 13.
As Rex Woodbury outlined:
Genopets is pioneering what’s called “move-to-earn NFT gaming”, essentially integrating how active you are in the real world with play-to-earn economics so you can earn crypto in the game. Your activity—captured through a wearable device like a Fitbit or Oura—earns you QI, the in-game currency. You can then use QI to buy food and clothes for your Genopet.
Users take care, nurture, and level up their pet by moving around more - it gives a “digital representation of our well-being”.
Genopets has 6 fundamental gameplay pillars, and the first one is progression. Just like you can evolve in your own physical progression, your pet will level up.
You raise your pet from its baby stage. Log steps with wearables and earn QI to purchase food, clothing, and accessories for your Genopet. At each major evolution stage, you choose the evolution and skill-tree path of your Genopet. Your decisions at these stages shape your pet’s aesthetic, skills, and moveset”
Genopets is planning to launch a fully public beta in Q2 ‘22.
I’m bullish on Genopets because of their big why that taps into deep human desires that they can build a true, high-growth community around.
It’s a story/experience about “recognizing, embracing, and evolving who we are”. They outline key pieces to each player’s story, honesty, kindness, and boldness.
This is the heart of Genopets: a spirit that recognizes and embraces you for exactly who you are, in all your imperfections and shortcomings, and at the very same time, all of your virtues, your intrinsic values, and your indescribable potential. It is a spirit that celebrates what you are, what you have overcome, and what you have yet to become. It is a spirit that will never lose faith in you, a spirit that will never let you give up on yourself.
To understand the fun, gamified aspects that are required to drive long-term retention in a metaverse or “game” like Genopets, what better science fiction novel/movie to revisit than Ready Player One?
In Ready Player One (the dystopian film set in 2045), the protagonist Wade Watts explains why people visit the immersive virtual world called the OASIS.
People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do, but they stay because of all the things they can be.
That’s exactly what Genopets seeks to do - show all of its players what they can be.
This is the spirit we want to engender between player and Genoet. And in turn, the spirit we want to engender within a player in their relationship with themself. Genopets exists to show players one edifying way to have a relationship with self -- through self-care and self-reflection.
Isn’t that the beauty of any kind of fitness?
Typically, games engage a player’s mind and emotion, but Genopets is unique in that it engages a player’s physical body as well.
The underlying question behind Genopets is “Will users walk around to make their pet grow?”
If Genopets can offer both intrinsic and financial rewards, I think Genopets could take off and bring tens of thousands (maybe millions) of users into Crypto while doing so. Two keys to sustainable growth for Genopets will be fostering a tight-knit community and creating a game that’s so fun that users would still play it even if crypto-elements weren’t layered on. Genopets’ ‘22 roadmap looks exciting and up for the task, but time will tell.
1.4 - Other Move-to-earn & Metaverse(ish) examples
I was surprised to learn move-to-earn models already existed at a large scale. Let’s briefly explore two:
Ex 1: Zombies, Run!
Zombies, Run!, a running app with over 1,000,000 downloads is a gamified app that incentivizes running and movement.
When users put in headphones, they’re immersed in a game that incorporates missions and music, and zombies chasing you. The game incorporates missions and music… if zombies chase you, you have to speed up.
It makes people feel like runners and fully immersed in the game. It’s clear that some users really have fun while using the app which we know is critical to dopamine levels and directly impacts the enjoyment of exercise.
The app is more wide-ranging for more “serious” users, extending into training plans too (5k, 10k, half/full marathon beginners)
Ex 2: Ring Fit Adventure could help visualize what fitness in the metaverse could loo like
With Ring Fit Adventure, one is strapped into a belt on your leg to monitor your squats or floor work during a workout and one is clipped into a durable ring, sort of like the steering wheels you might have used in arcade driving simulators,
Exercise form: Exercise is split into a few forms: jogging, high knees or some light tension work are how your character moves through each level along paths that are relatively linear.
1.5: Looking forward - future discussion
Here are some questions I’ve been posing to myself:
Does it really matter what brings us “back into the gym”, so long as we’re consistently coming back and moving?
Checking assumptions: To me, there’s something natural and unmatched about going out on a simple run outside in nature without VR/AR, but should I question this assumption?
Brain Circuitry: If VR/AR/gamified fitness options are used as an entry point into physical exercise, fitness, or building healthier habits, how might this impact our brain circuitry to rely on these inputs moving forward?
NBU’s: Can connected fitness combined with the fitness metaverse bring healthy habits, movement, and better health to the next billion users?
Can VR be a “gateway” fitness option? - How can we use VR as an “entry point” into healthier habits, fitness?
Implications: What are the implications of becoming more of a digital species?
Looking forward: I don’t have all the answers yet. We’ll pick this up next week, exploring how fitness & health tech companies can leverage the internet to cultivate community and explore some progressive Web3 frameworks used in the broader creator economy, specifically with fitness creator use cases.
#2 🥑 Snacks of the week (x4)
Data Science and Behavioral Science: The biggest merger in digital health should be between behavioral and data sciences - the next frontier in digital health is happening right now at the intersection of two sciences in a place called behavioral data science.
Adam’s take: I enjoyed this article and it provides the framework to our exploration of the fitness metaverse later on. There are so many sexy tech products available but behavioral data science must be properly applied to influence long-term health improvements to consider any product, service, community, etc. a true “success”. Many of my skepticisms and concerns with the fitness metaverse stem from keeping individuals (users) to stay healthy and/or active over long periods of time.
A notable quote:
A company might engineer the greatest data-logging and data-analyzing tool devised, but if engagement with the tool is low – meaning few people use it – then it offers little benefit. The best digital solutions are those that embrace the cross-disciplinary approach of behavioral data science.
Tracking Strava’s Rise (Fitt Insider) - this article outlines Strava’s journey to today. Strava taps data from 44K+ API partners and 400+ hardware devices including Oura, Peloton, and Zwift to track and share workouts. I highly recommend consuming any of Anthony & Joe Vennare’s content.
EaseVRx received FDA approval for a VR headset and device that amplifies the sound of the user’s breath to assist in breathing exercises. It uses principles from cognitive behavior therapy, which aims to help people recognize and understand various thought patterns and emotions.
Any sweet tooths out there? 🙋♂️ This article by Levels breaks down the science on sugar cravings and how to beat them. I found this educational and timely as a huge sweet tooth myself after a pie-filled Thanksgiving
To tame your sweet tooth and beat sugar cravings for good, you have to overcome powerful environmental cues and brain circuitry that tells you to polish off that entire candy bar (and maybe go back for a second).
#2 💰 Capital Raise Radar Snacks - 2 ventures raises
Enterprise healthcare: Luma Health, the most comprehensive platform in enterprise Healthcare, Secures $130M to Optimize Patient Journey - Luma Health unifies and automates the patient’s healthcare journey, integrating with more than 80 electronic health records (EHRs) and “leading vendors across the healthcare IT stack” to centralize and automate scheduling and communication with patients.
Digital Musculoskeletal: Sword Health, a digital MSK company, raises $163M in Series D funding and is now valued at $2B. This article does a great job covering the virtual MSK space in digital health.
🤔 Why it matters: Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading contributor to disability worldwide, affecting 1.71 billion people globally according to data compiled by the WHO.
🤝 Merger Moves : Back in early October, Sword acquired Vigilant Technologies, makers of a shirt-collar wearable that uses haptic feedback to improve posture and cut down on injuries in the workplace.
Low impact movement modalities can help move the needle for some musculoskeletal conditions. With such a large MSK TAM I expect to see more startups emerge with “micro-solutions” in the coming years. (Learn More)
#4 🎙️Health Tech Pod OTW - flow
Understanding what “flow” is from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - I was fascinated to learn from the man who coined the term “flow”. A line that stood out to me: “You can live as a pawn of external circumstances or you can master your own destiny to a certain extent”.
The Role of Community in Web 3.0 - Cooper Turley & Tiffany Zhong
Growth: building and fostering true community is a marketing/growth unlock for web 2 and web 3 ventures, and learned from these leaders
Relationships are the atomic unit of community and Cooper, Tiffany, and David (all 3 on this pod) all understand this principle deeply.
What did you think? What questions do you still have? What are you most interested in at the intersection of web 3 / fitness / health broadly speaking?
As always, I hope to hear from you! Please share any and all feedback.
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Have a creative week,