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  • jasoncalacanis 06:37:53 on 2021-05-14 Permalink

    Lessons from Oura CEO Harpreet Rai on improving sleep, hardware, landing NBA partnerships & more | E1213 

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    Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

    Top Takeaways

    • Improving sleep is a massive market opportunity. It has fueled Oura’s growth as well as other companies like Calm.com.
    • “99.9% of Americans will try to sleep tonight, but only 10% will exercise per day.” – Harpreet Rai
    • For optimal health, you want a low resting heart rate (your heart is strong and you are relaxed when you sleep) and high heart rate variability (your body is adaptive).
    • Most hardware companies try to raise too much money early, which sets expectations too high. It’s better to test and iterate. Hardware development timelines are too long and risk of delay is too high to keep momentum when over-capitalized.
    • Employers have used Oura to keep their employees safe in COVID, sensor technology can often detect sickness before symptoms are felt.

    Listen on Apple Podcasts

    Guest: Harpreet Singh Rai | @harprizzle14

    CEO Oura Ring (2018-Present)

    • Joined as President in May 2017 (4 years into Oura’s life)
    • Previously worked as a portfolio manager at Eminence Capital for 9 years
    • Began career in Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley
    • Majored in MEMS, Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems (sensor design) at University of Michigan

    Oura’s sleep cornerstone

    • Sleep has been a major driver for customer adoption of the Oura ring.
    • There is a limit to productivity if you are not getting good sleep.
    • Poor sleep reduces your critical thinking ability. The quality of your decisions matters. For example, “if you’re a PM at a software app, making the right decisions on data analysis or UX flow can lead to dramatically different outcomes.”

    “99.9% of Americans will try to sleep tonight, but only 10% will exercise per day, and only 15-20% will work out each week.” – Harpreet Rai

    It’s hard to eat well when you have a bad sleep

    • Two hormones control your appetite. Ghrelin determines how hungry you feel. Leptin determines how full you feel after.
    • When you are sleep-deprived Ghrelin levels double and Leptin levels go down by half.
    • Evolutionarily, if you were not sleeping, it was likely because you were under stress from a predator (like a Cheetah), and your body wants to maximize calories to be ready to run.

    How Oura verifies their scores

    • A subject wears the Oura ring at a sleep lab (like UC Berkeley), where they are hooked up to the state-of-the-art sensors.
    • 16 nodes read brain activity, and then data scientists tune the Oura ring’s algorithm to generate similar conclusions from its sensors.

    Key Metrics used by Oura

    Lowest resting heart rate

    • Reaching your lowest resting heart rate requires both physical and mental relaxation. When you are relaxed, it reduces stress on the autonomic nervous system (the vagus nerve that connects your brain and your body).
    • Research shows that when you get sleep that leaves you well recovered and well-rested, you’ll normally reach your lowest resting heart rate sort of midway through the night.

    Heart rate variability

    • Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation between every single heartbeat.
    • High HRV is a good signal; it means your body is more responsive and capable of adapting to situations. Low HRV is indicative of stress, smoking, and poor health.
    • Affordable, compact sensors precise enough to measure HRV are a recent advancement.

    Sleep Score

    • Electrical signals, breathing, temperature, and movement can indicate which stage of sleep you are in (Light, Deep, Rapid Eye Movement (REM), Awake).

    Oura’s business model

    • Oura designs hardware, develops software to analyze & display user’s health patterns, and markets their product direct to consumers & businesses.
    • 500K+ rings sold to date, ~350K in the last year.
    • Rings retail from $299-$399 with 2-year warranty, there is no additional fee to use the Oura app.
    • 100% online at ouraring.com, they have not yet used channels like Amazon.
    • Similar to Warby Parker, Oura designed a ring fitting kit that comes in a small box for customers to try on.

    COVID Detection, Wellness Monitoring, and NBA & Enterprise Partnerships

    • Oura regularly monitors the temperature of the skin, HRV, respiratory rate, and other signs. Together these signals can typically detect stress and sickness before the wearer.
    • For frontline health care workers, Oura donated 2000 rings and had a sponsor donate another 1000 rings to hospitals across the US.
    • The team used early research and findings to create an algorithm rolled into an enterprise application, “Health Risk Management.”
    • Oura partnered with the NBA, UFC, NASCAR, Red Bull Racing, Las Vegas Sands, and others for COVID monitoring using their Health Risk Management platform.
    • Oura’s cost is low compared to shutting down the economy, daily testing, or high cost of human health.
    • Most organizations can’t afford a test every day (they weren’t even available), the Las Vegas Sands used Oura to monitor the health of their employees and then used Oura data to prioritize those who got tests.

    Creating frameworks to avoid Big-Brother

    • Everything needs to be opt-in from the employee side. Empower the individual, notify them first.
    • Oura will not tolerate companies using their rings to terminate employees. (Oura’s contracts give them the right to terminate their customer contract if enterprises misuse data.)
    • Admins can have pre-customized notifications to employees (For example: send a notification when someone may be sick).
    • Oura sees interest from a lot of corporations as they go back to the office to de-risk against new variants and Flu season risks.
    • “Oura-wellian.” – Jason
    • Companies want de-identified tracing tools and frameworks to avoid data risk on their part. They embrace Oura’s cautious and thoughtful approach.


    • Google and Apple have both said they want to own health. Apple has the Apple Watch, and Google has acquired FitBit.
    • Oura plays nicely with both of them; they distribute the apps on their app stores and integrate with both Apple Health and Google Fit.
    • Oura can remain neutral because of its focus on sleep and because it is seen as a complementary product, many Oura users (estimated ~1/3) also wear a smartwatch.

    Why the finger is better for monitoring than the wrist

    • For accuracy, the pulse signal from your finger is about 100 times stronger than the wrist. This is because the skin is thin, and the arteries are close to the surface.
    • Oura samples at 250 hertz. This means their LEDs fire 250 times per second (LEDs are used to shine into the arteries to measure blood flow).
    • If bootlegged an Apple Watch or Fitbit to 250 hertz it would die in about an hour.

    Oura roadmap & potential experiments

    • Oura’s current competitive advantage is the accuracy of its data. Improving its sleep staging algorithm to continue to be the market leader is important.
    • Jason asked about implants: Basic procedures for simple implantation still cost $5K in the US, so it’s not going to be a near-term solution.
    • Due to the size of the data set at Oura, they can improve their algorithms faster than the hardware sensors themselves. More data improves the fidelity of the insights.

    Ring design

    • Oura will likely create both thinner rings and ones with more design.
    • They are thinking through the best way to do design partnerships and have already had inbound interest from brands like Tiffany and Gucci.

    Advice for Hardware Founders

    • Test and iterate. Make sure you have product-market fit, then when you are more confident, raise more capital.
    • Many hardware companies aggressively raised capital, but with an aggressive raise comes high expectations. Physical products have a longer development cycle than software, so investors accustomed to software performance will be disappointed.
    • Companies like Jawbone fell victim to this dynamic.

    Oura’s financial future, SPACs M&A

    • Apple is selling 15M+ Apple Watches, which is beginning to show the size of the market.
    • Oura has seen a lot of inbound interest from SPACs, but does not see it as strategically advantageous at this point.
    • Harpreets’ hedge fund background makes him appreciate the rigor of being a public company, but he knows Oura is still early in its distribution maturity (only DTC with some enterprise.
    • M&A in the wearables & health space will continue to heat up. Google closed Fitbit, Amazon launched a wearable, and rumors suggest Facebook will be trying to do this as well.

    Startupdeals.tech is curated list of the most generous software discounts for startup founders by @jason, @launch & @twistartups

    Subscribe to the Weekly Recap Newsletter (sample) | Follow TWiST’s Twitter

    The post Lessons from Oura CEO Harpreet Rai on improving sleep, hardware, landing NBA partnerships & more | E1213 appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

  • jasoncalacanis 23:07:05 on 2019-03-22 Permalink

    I’m on a Mission 

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    I’m on a mission to teach 10,000 accredited investors how to angel invest and share their deals.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/G8gYc]

    As many of you know, I wrote the book ANGEL, created a companion podcast and now I’m hosting a half-day course called Angel University.

    Here are the upcoming dates for our Angel University courses:

    • April 23: Boston, MA
    • April 24: New York City (supported by EquityZen)
    • April 26: Columbus, OH (hosted by WillowWorks)
    • April 29: Miami, FL
    • June 17: Sydney, Australia
    • July 15: San Francisco

    The Angel University curriculum is designed for everyone, from angels who haven’t done a deal yet to seasoned angels who have done over 100. We cover five key topics: sourcing deals, evaluating startups, negotiating deals, portfolio and bankroll management, and post-deal efforts. It’s a ton of fun.

    The tour workshops are four hours and are followed by dinner. Seating is limited to 50.

    Join me: http://angel.university/tour.

    PS – Thanks to WillowWorks for hosting us in Columbus, and EquityZen for supporting us in NYC. If your company or local trade organization wants to host us in Boston, New York or Miami (or another city!), please email angelu[at]launch.co and let’s talk.

    The post I’m on a Mission appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

  • jasoncalacanis 23:26:04 on 2019-03-04 Permalink

    Why People Don’t Get Wealthy 

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    I threw out a tweet over the weekend titled “reasons people don’t get wealthy,” and I listed nine reasons and asked folks to add their 10th, 11th and 12th.  

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/3My4V ]

    I didn’t put any thought into the order of the list, since I wrote it in a stream of consciousness style, but I made sure to include factors that people don’t have any control over, such as, what time and the country they were born in because, obviously, if you were born in North Korea today or were Irish (like my ancestors) at the turn of the 19th century, you probably had zero to little chance of changing your station in life.

    Right now I’m very interested in bringing up the topic of wealth, success and achievement in America because a vocal minority of youngsters (I’m old now!) are embracing socialism while advocating for the banning the billionaires.

    I get their frustration with their Boomer and Gen-X parents and, obviously, they have many valid points — even if I disagree with their anti-capitalism stance (this will be another blog post).

    This embracing of socialism, of course, is leading the crazy right to trigger their individual-freedom loving Americans, in order to deride that generation for wanting to be part of the socialist-communist system found in China, Russia, and Venezuela, as opposed to the Nordic Model (whether that’s actually socialist is debatable).

    Putting that aside, I think young people should still aspire to get wealthy — which is different than rich — and be proud of that. Wealthy is a loaded word, and while some careless folks would define it as dollars, the truth is that wealth encompasses so much more, including options, health, happiness and the pursuit of one’s vision of what the world should be.

    Striving to be wealthy, by society’s or one’s personal definition, is what we should all be doing in this life. We should strive to create abundance through innovative products and services, be that creating Khan Academy or Uber/Airbnb or even a lifestyle business. Entrepreneurship has created the greatest gains in our standard of living to date, even if it’s hard to grasp the wild polarization of wealth in society. I don’t see capitalism’s lock on the best operating system for society changing any time soon — the most driven humans drive humanity forward, it’s that simple.

    Conversely, if we pursue free services and money we will drive more power into the hands of a larger and larger incompetent government, and I think we know where that will end up — and it won’t be great for anyone.

    The socialism vs. capitalism debate is just getting started and I’m looking forward to debating it passionately and intelligently with y’all. Comments are open.

    My original list is below:

    Reasons people don’t get wealthy (a partial list):

    1. A lack of skills

    2. Lack of taking risks

    3. Not building a network

    4. Poor work ethic

    5. Not reading books

    6. Giving up after getting beat down

    7. Fear

    8. Being born at the wrong time

    9. Being born in the wrong country

    … and some great responses from Twitter.

    The post Why People Don’t Get Wealthy appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

  • jasoncalacanis 20:59:04 on 2019-02-22 Permalink

    How to Raise Money Instantly for Your Startup 

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    Exterior, San Francisco’s SOMA district, two nerds, walking briskly. Tents, traffic, and garbage — everywhere.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/w91C_ ]

    Founder, excited: “JCal, I just got some advice from an advisor that I should call my first round of funding a ‘pre-seed’ round so that the optics are clean when I go for my Seed Round and Series A…”

    Angel: “Hmmm…”

    Founder, more excited: “you know… in case I don’t have product-market fit and investors think we’re a zombie startup… trapped between our Seed and Series A funding.“

    Angel: “It’s irrelevant, all of it.”

    Founder, confused: “My startup? The Pre-Seed Round? The advice? My life?”  

    Angel: “All that matters, is the chart.”


    Founders get too much free advice these days, most of it from folks who have never built or invested in a billion dollar company. Any advice you get from someone who has not been involved in a unicorn startup is largely irrelevant if you are trying to build a unicorn startup.

    Candidly, most of what I thought I knew before investing in seven unicorns was wrong or unimportant. If you want to understand what it’s like to climb El Capitan you can interview people who have done it, and as a journalist, conference impresario and podcast host, I did my share of asking questions.

    But what journalists, talk show hosts, and directors know about hanging off the side of a rock is vastly different than what Alex Honnold knows.

    If you want to raise capital for your startup, there are countless books and blog posts for you to read, but you must sort those words into two buckets: folks who have built or invested in unicorns and folks who haven’t.

    After introducing the 200+ founders I’ve invested in to thousands of other investors, here is the number one thing that has lead to them to (a) getting a meeting and (b) getting multiple term sheets: a chart that doubles every three to six months.

    If you have a revenue chart that doubles every six months or less, like Uber, Calm, Thumbtack, Robinhood, Trello, Fitbod and LeadIQ, you will be tripping over all the venture money on your doorstep.

    Are there other reasons than “the chart” that VCs invest? Yes!

    Can you have “the chart” and have VCs pass on investing? Yes!

    Can you use unsustainable growth techniques and fake “the chart?” Yes! (but I don’t advise it)

    Is having a chart that doubles your best chance at raising capital? Yes!


    PS – The scene above is 100% true, except it’s a composite of three different conversations I had this week that I bundled together and took liberties with.

    PPS – If you have $5,000 to $50,000 in revenue a month and want to 100x it and build a unicorn, email your story and chart to 100@launch.co

    The post How to Raise Money Instantly for Your Startup appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

  • jasoncalacanis 07:00:48 on 2019-02-11 Permalink

    What is a startup vs a lifestyle business (and why it matters for VCs) 

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    There is a lot of misconception around the moniker “lifestyle business,” with many founders thinking it’s an insult, which is understandable since said moniker usually comes from an investor with a pile of money and who is giving a “hard no” to a founder who just spent the time to pitch them — in rejection, comes reaction.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/4EXd3 ]

    When people in Silicon Valley call a startup a lifestyle business, they are actually implying that it’s a GREAT lifestyle for the founders, perhaps with a certainty of pulling out a million or two in profits a year, as opposed to the 5-10% chance of waiting a decade to have a greater return.

    VCs tend to be impressed with these lifestyle businesses and their advice is given because it’s in everyone’s best interest — it’s certainly not to diminish founders.

    As I mentioned above, the timing of the lifestyle business assessment is a key issue here. The founders getting this designation from investors want VCs to invest in their businesses, and have poured their hearts out in pitch decks and partner meetings — they believe that they deserve to clear market and they haven’t.

    Many investors don’t have great bedside manners and don’t unpack their choice enough not to invest, based on my experience as a founder, investor and in running an accelerator with almost 100 graduates.

    At LAUNCH, we like to walk founders through our “declining to invest AT THIS MOMENT,” with a lot of details. This acts as a great moment for us to codify our decision-making in a transparent way with the founder and gives the founder the ability to remind us of how stupid we were years later.

    A simple email like this can take the edge off the “no”:

    “Jane & John,

    We really enjoyed hearing your vision for Acme Incorporated. We are going to pass on investing at this time because we are unsure if this can be venture scale. Venture scale today means having a realistic chance of hitting $100M in revenue in under 10 years, with great margins. If we’re missing something, please let us know because we often get it wrong.

    Also, “at this time” is the key phrase in this email, we often invest years after first meeting a founder, so we would love to stay in touch with you. You can send your monthly updates for investors/non-investors to
    updates@launch.co. We read them all and we respond to many.

    Best, Jason”

    If I think it’s a lifestyle business, I will often say to the founder:

    “Most VCs are not going to consider this venture scale in my opinion, because it’s based on low margin service revenue. I wonder if you’ve considered optimizing your business to throw off two million dollars a year for the next ten years.

    If you do that, you will make $20M and still own a great services business you can sell for 2-5x EBIDA at the end of that decade if you want. That will give you $20M in earnings and a final $4-10M sale at the end, if you do sell.

    Most founders never make $25M+ from their startups, so you might want to avoid VC money and go for the sure(r) bet.”

    This tweet was super instructive in regards to how much misconception there is about the lifestyle business designation.

    Venture capitalists are not trying to offend or make founders feel bad by saying they have a lifestyle business. That’s a naive reading of the situation. If a venture capitalist tells you that your business isn’t venture scale, they likely believe it, and are telling you so that you don’t get yourself into a dysfunctional situation, and so you’ll have a better outcome.

    No venture capitalist wants to be on a dysfunctional board with an unhappy founder — that’s literally the worst scenario an investor can be in. They avoid it at all costs.


    PS – Do you know an awesome lifestyle business that is throwing off $1M in profits and wants to try and 100x it? Email 100@launch.co

    The post What is a startup vs a lifestyle business (and why it matters for VCs) appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

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