Saks Snacks #3 June 20, 2021: Connected Fitness + Community, Consumer Health API
Connected fitness + Community, startups to keep your 👀 on, Longevity, Data Privacy
Welcome back & howdy from Austin, Texas 🤠. In this edition, we explore:
Connected Fitness - new entrant in the 🥊 space
Mental Health Funding Continues
Personal Health Dashboards & API’s
And I’ll outline a few other areas of interest:
Longevity: then and now
Data Privacy + Apple Watch Series 7
Weekly Musings - podcast + spark moment
📡 Capital Raise Radar -
The latest 💰 raises across connected fitness, mental health digital therapies, and the future of health data dashboards / API’s. Each of the 3 ventures is centered around different emerging trends here for the long-term.
Make fitness fun: I’m confident that through entertainment first or gamified options centering the experience around movement, similar health tech products can bring fitness to millions of more people, who might not be the fitness enthusiasts other options seek to attract. These technologies can help users discover fun, engaging products that make fitness feel different than anything users would previously associate with exercise.
Thinking bigger: Companies must consider the socially built-in elements of their products and the communities they create to win in the long term. Connected fitness with intentionally built-in community (and even VR options) presents a unique opportunity to create an experience that transcends a workout. More to come on VR in the next edition, but for now: How peloton strategically incorporated community
Pricey like Peloton: the boxing machine costs $1,495 with a $29 monthly fee
I’m left wondering:
Which fitness providers will expand segments via “entertainment 1st, fitness 2nd” and who will focus on personalized options to existing customer bases?
Who’s building community-focused connected movement options for our aging population?
The mental health digital platform pairs video counseling sessions, 1-1 messaging, and digital activities prescribed to support individuals in their everyday lives. The model is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / coaching principles.
Looking forward: As demand for virtual mental health soars, and VC-backed ventures try to remove barriers to accessing high quality mental care, I have some concerns:
How can clinical measures be measured meaningfully?
What happens to the clients of the platforms that fail? Will your tele-therapist or addiction counselor have to abandon you because their platform employer burned through their cash?
There are already over >20,000 health apps that “address mental health” in the Apple and Android operating systems. In the coming years, we’ll need to determine how to measure safety and clinical outcomes a bit better.
Effective mental health solutions must be comprehensive and include preventive care as well as support for more serious and urgent issues. Effective care must also be culturally responsive, which requires approaches that are both evidence-based and hyperlocal, addressing the unique needs of people where they live. Lyra is extending our proven approaches to mental health care for companies with people based around the world, and we look forward to delivering meaningful support and care to those employees and their families.
🤑 Startup Scene (earlier stage)
#3 An Integrated Fitness Future: Terra raises $2.8M to make it easier for apps to aggregate data from fitness and wellness devices through a single API, allowing consumers to access all their personal info in one place. | Learn More
Most fitness data is siloed, but I don’t anticipate this remaining for much longer.
I see a future where integrated consumer health dashboards will be mainstream in 5-10 years. Central software with multiple dashboard options, at scale. Developed use cases so far primarily exist for teams/enterprises, but this will change. For those wanting to check what exists for health analytics, start with these 2: (Habitdash, Heads Up Health)
The Plaid of Health “For context, Plaid acts as an intermediary between finance apps like Venmo and banks. Similarly, Terra lets users connect their health data to different apps. While Terra is early, their vision, and others like Human API, are unlocking siloed data to empower integrated offerings.” (Fitt Insider comparison)
Longer term, everything from digital wearables and sensor data to DNA and food intake information can be aggregated. This information can be used for more than just consumer technology devices. For example, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies could use this information to better understand health trends. The key is to reduce the friction in adopting the tools that developers use to create, collect, and analyze the data.
Market context: Wearable markets are demanding personalization and the emergence of data interoperability solutions. There’s a huge appetite for data with the SaaS boom and devs needing rich data to build accurate software.
Still early stage: Terra is early-stage and unproven, receiving U.S. funding after over 150 rejections in Europe.
👀 Data Privacy
Rumors of Apple Watch Series 7 including CGM capabilities are… just rumors.
Non-invasive, accurate glucose monitoring remains the Holy Grail of medicine.
Per last week’s Bloomberg article, Apple Plans Faster Watch, Future Temperature and Glucose Sensors, the rumored CGM capability is “unlikely to be ready for commercial launch for several more years.”
Apple filed a patent back in 2018 for a unique way to track glucose through a technique called raman spectroscopy, but there are tremendous technical hurdles to overcome that I believe we’re 2-3 years out from, at least.
As Apple and other wearables position themselves for the long-term, I expect to see a focus from fitness to focusing on comprehensive health. While the Series 7 Apple watch won’t have all the “planned” innovative features, they’re still incredibly well positioned to disrupt healthcare & many other industries.
Last week, I learned from a longevity panel hosted by Nathan Cheng from the scientists working on reversing aging, including Aubrey de Gray, David Sinclair, Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, Liz Parrish, David Gobel, and others.
Each differs in approaches and varies across therapies that remove, repair, replace, or “render harmless” the cellular and molecular damage that accumulates in our tissues over time. As promised, here’s a list of BioTech companies seeking to reverse aging.
Longevity then and now: In 1969, genealogists anticipated life expectancy could be extended to 120 years within the next 20 years (clearly didn’t happen), so…
What’s different this time? Why should people be interested in longevity now?
We have an improved ability to evaluate the natural world and non-human organisms that live long
The emergence of human data showing certain areas of age reversal (within studies and bio-hacking community)
“I think we have the tech to extend human lifespan to reach takeoff velocity.” - Liz Parrish
Aubrey de Gray pointed to more areas of dramatic progress but grounded the conversation by reinforcing the critical need for human data
We must accept that we have a far way to go to provide a coherent body of data to justify a claim that we’re on the brink of dramatic breakthroughs…”
What’s apprent to these scientists that isn’t apparent to us… yet?
The slow drive of extended lifespan data through scientific papers and modeled organisms will help fuel public attitude shifts
There was a consensus that the current belief, that people will have a healthspan a mere few years longer than our parents, will be shattered.
These attitude shifts are inevitable: over the next 10 years, with continued progress, we’ll see a change of public attitudes regarding beliefs of what's going to happen in the next 10-20 years (2030-2050).
“There will be a tipping point that the results, and these changes are going to cause a tipping point”- Aubrey De Gray
🎙 Podcast of the Week
Mehdi Yacoubi, founder of Vital Health has a robust conversation with Samuel Gil, partner at JME ventures. They discuss the Spanish Tech ecosystem, longevity perspectives, growth loops, and more.
Samuel Gil’s candid takes on the BS of VC “value-add” and commentary on what makes a great founder inspired me to synthesize his advice.
💥 Spark Moments of the Week -
I debated removing this section until I asked you all what you enjoyed most!
Moment #1: In the summer of 2019, I traveled to 5 European cities with my good friend AJ. In addition to us being mistaken in Santorini as a couple, he tolerated my nerdy journaling, reading, and writing habits… 1 of which I forgot I shared with him.
Last week, I asked him for feedback on the newsletter:
“The spark moment of the week & call to action was my favorite part. One you actually got me hooked on in Greece is writing a question you have before bed and seeing if you can answer it in the morning.”
This was a reminder of why I’m writing and the spark moment of the week. It reminded me that we truly don’t know the impact our actions, words, support can have on those around us. My hope each week is that something triggers a spark moment in one of you.
2 days later, I stumbled upon a study of how the brain solves problems during sleep, per Dr. Stickgold (prof. of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School).
While I wasn’t aware of the science behind it in Santorini, I knew it was a tactic that helped me think through some of my larger life decisions.
#2: Any form of intentionality, reflection, or slowing down in our fast, tech-driven world is a win. Reflecting on moments like these is what motivates me to keep writing (it will get better)! I look forward to sharing more in future weeks.
👋 Endnote & Calls to action
Thanks for reading! As always, I welcome all feedback and hope to hear from you.
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