As a long time user of fitness trackers (Read: Nerdy Jock Engineer Hybrid) ranging from the Jawbone (2 models), Polar chest strap monitors (2 model), Fitbit (4 models), I’ve always been frustrated with the limitations of these products. That was until I tried the Whoop, which is sold as a service, with the hardware coming free with a minimum of a 6-month membership. Whoop was started by Will Ahmed (Harvard B.A, 2012), and is one of the most successful companies to come out of the HBS I-lab, with the company recently valued at $1.2B in its October 2020 . The hardware is a sleek black monitor, with a base model black strap as seen in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1- Picture of Omar Aboulezz’s trusty, loyal Whoop!
Data Collection, Processing, and Customer Value Capture:
Whoop collects A LOT of personal fitness data on its users, on the order of 50MB-100MB per day, which is 1,000x-10,000x the quantity collected by a Fitbits/Apple Watches . The types of data collected include: 24hr heart rate monitoring, respiration rate, sleep duration, sleep stages, sleep quality, sleep debt, just to name a few. This data is then uploaded to the cloud and is processed. The data is then used to deliver breathtakingly beautiful dashboards. Figure 2 below shows some of the dashboards that are generated using the data and analytics (please don’t judge my poor sleep hehe). Whoop also delivers personalized insights that help to nudge users into making better decisions, to train more effectively, and to sleep more restoratively. For example, note the personalized insight in the 4th picture (Daily Recovery) of Figure 2, that indicates that my recovery increases 8.8% when I report using melatonin. Whoop also provides weekly and monthly reports on behaviors.
Figure 2- Sample of Whoop dashboards. From left to right: Daily Overview, Detailed Daily Sleep Weekly Overview, Daily Recovery, Daily Strain.
The processed data provides a daily “strain” score from 1-21, a recovery score out of 100%, and is divided into red, yellow, and green zones, and detailed sleep analysis. Whoop can also accurately track caloric expenditure during the day, as well as in a large and expanding list of activities as diverse as running, to rollerblading, CrossFit to Australian football (whatever that is). Interestingly and usefully, Whoop can predict if you have COVID-19 because it measures respiration rate spikes when users becomes symptomatic . I have monitored my respiration daily since Whoop discovered and educated me about this capability through their weekly emails. This information is valuable to Whoop users because it helps athletes manage their workouts, recovery and can help competitors peak for competitions or events.
Whoop users tend to evangelize for the product/service, including yours truly and Joe Rogan (the famous comedian, podcaster, MMA commenter and reality TV Host) , and the 28 ECs who are part of the HBS team. The app allows you to join teams which shares the data you choose to share with your teammates, thus allowing for community development as well as a competitive spirit. One of my best friends routinely looks at my data and checks in on me when I’m not sleeping or have low recovery (Read: She shames me into optimizing my sleep).
One of the biggest value propositions of the service is that it is constantly getting better. As noted above, activities are constantly being added. For example, when I first started roller blading, that activity wasn’t an option. I requested it and a few months later I was notified they had calibrated that activity.
Whoop Value Capture:
Whoop is very expensive when compared to the standard Fitbit fitness monitor, charging $18-$30/month depending on the membership length vs. $100- $150 for a Fitbit . The typical fitness monitor lasts up to 5 years, meaning Fitbit captures $100-$150 every five years while Whoop captures over 10x that number in the same period ($1,080-$1,800, depending on the membership durations purchased). Whoop also does not monetize personal data from users which anecdotally generates customer loyalty and partially justifies the high price point .
Outlook: Challenges and Opportunities
In terms of near-term opportunities, Whoop may upgrade its hardware which may enable even more data collection and more sophisticated insights. However, with Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, Apple entering the personalized fitness industry with the Apple Watch and Fitness+ (and let’s face it, Amazon is definitely going to come up with something too, knowing Bezos), Whoop is in a very crowded market with some very well resourced players. However, Whoop currently and unambiguously has the best fitness service/product on the market and is targeted at fitness geeks like me. Their biggest challenge will be to stay ahead of the well-resourced competition. However, their focus on continually improving the product, as well as developing their community through teams, social media, blogs and podcasts (which I didn’t mention but were used for the majority of the research of this post), has created fanatical customers and has captured the hearts and minds of key opinion leaders like Joe Rogan. With their recent $100M fundraising round , they look well positioned to continue to create and capture value and help athletes be all they can be!
 Labs, DI. 2021. “WHOOP CEO: Investing In Your WHOOP Membership”. Whoop.com. https://www.whoop.com/thelocker/ceo-investing-in-your-membership/?utm_source=members&utm_campaign=the-locker&utm_medium=email&utm_content=ceo-investing-in-your-membership&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJvbWFyLmFib3VsZXp6QGdtYWlsLmNvbSIsICJrbF9jb21wYW55X2lkIjogIlBBQm5XSyJ9.
 Labs, DI. 2021. “Podcast No. 74: The Story Of WHOOP”. Whoop.com. https://www.whoop.com/thelocker/podcast-74-story-of-whoop/.
 Labs, DI. 2021. “Knowing Your Baseline: Case Studies In Respiratory Rate In Time Of COVID-19”. Whoop.com. https://www.whoop.com/thelocker/case-studies-respiratory-rate-covid-19/.
 Rogan, Joe. 2021. “Sober October Whoop Post”. Instagram.com. https://www.instagram.com/p/B3m7LAtFXAE/?hl=en.
 Oney, Matt. 2021. “Whoop 3.0 Vs Fitbit: Which Is 2021’S Best Activity Tracker? – Zenmaster”. Zenmaster. https://zenmasterwellness.com/whoop-vs-fitbit/.
 “The Best Fitness Trackers For 2021 | Digital Trends”. 2021. Digital Trends. https://www.digitaltrends.com/wearables/best-fitness-trackers/#:~:text=Fitness%20trackers%20can%20last%20up%20to%20five%20years.
 Labs, DI. 2021. “Whoop Privacy Principles”. Whoop.com. https://www.whoop.com/privacy/whoop-privacy-principles/.