3 Lessons in Industry-Disrupting Innovation

Recently, a new name in the health technology industry has made quite a stir. Whoop, a wearable monitoring system that tracks your physiologic metrics, is changing the health-tech industry and turning heads in a completely new direction.

With the FitBit as its predecessor, most consumers are shocked by the differences in design. This wearable wristband has no screen, no alerts, and no GPS. Instead, it looks like a minimal strap bracelet, with the monitoring device on the inner lining, resting against the skin. Although it doesn’t count steps, tell you when it’s time to stand up, or track your runs, Whoop straps monitor all of your physiological metrics. With this data, their software is able to guide you to a better workout, quicker recovery, and more beneficial sleep. This wearable tech is taking your health to the next step with metric analysis, as opposed to simply recording your exercises.

Whoop’s innovations in tech and design have garnered sizable investments from the Foundry Group, Two Sigma Ventures, Accomplice, Thursday Ventures, Promus Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, as well as angel investors like Netflix co-founder and former CEO Marc Randolph for a substantial total of $55 million in this latest round of investments. Big names in the investing pool are linked to other industry-disrupting startups, like Randolph’s mentorship and investment in Looker Data which sold to Google for $2.6 billion.   

With this kind of attention and interest, its clear Whoop is doing things differently, but the company is changing up more than just its design. Here are three lessons you can apply to innovate your own company to the point of industry disruption.

1. Find new value in your company

Whoop’s biggest pivot from the industry norm is their selling point. Unlike FitBit and AppleWatch that are sold at face-value as a one-time purchase of a product, Whoop has reimaged their value. While the Whoop strap is an essential part of the company, they found that consumers were having a hard time stomaching a purchase of $500 from a company they don’t know or trust.

So, Whoop reevaluated their assets and realized they had more to offer than the strap. They changed their entire business model to sell users their own data. Now, you can buy a Whoop strap for as little as $30 when you buy 8 months of membership. This membership allows you to access your data and receive the analysis and guide that helps you better your workouts and sleep.

Whoop revolutionized the selling model within its industry by finding new value in its product and decided to sell the data its consumers truly are after.

2. Run in the opposite direction of any trend

Fitbits and AppleWatchers are everywhere. In any given room, you can look around and see someone with a big black screen on their wrist. Whether they’re aesthetically pleasing or not, they’re a status symbol for health and wealth. Whoop decided to go a different direction with their design. The Whoop strap is supposed to be minimal, non-intrusive, and as subtle as possible, with the goal to eventually be completely hidden. “You’ll see Whoop over time worn throughout your body,” CEO Will Ahmed said. “The tech can live in other areas of the body, people will not even know you are wearing a sensor. We like the idea of tech being invisible while still being there.”

This pivot from the flashy to the unseen makes the Whoop strap feel more like a health product. It privatizes your goals, your metrics, and your body, making your journey with the strap a personal one.

While its competitors are after the same status a nice watch gives a wearer, Whoop wants to give its consumer discretion.

3. Only do what you can do best

Another source of value in Whoop is the overall quality of the tracking and analysis of metrics. In other words, it does what it’s supposed to do and it does it well. While the technology exists for Whoop to add a screen or a GPS, the clutter would complicate things.

“The dirty secret with wearables is that the more features you try to pack in to them, the less effective they are,” Ahmed said. “We have been deliberate about what we want our tech to do. We think about the context of what will make the experience better, and if it doesn’t we’re not doing it.”

Whoop traded in the old norm (screens and outdated but familiar tracking methods) for a newer, more comprehensive technology. If they tried to incorporate the old methods Whoop’s new model wouldn’t work as well as it does. Changing from the familiar is always a risk, but in this case, it looks like it will pay off.

Related: How to Nail the Pitch and Get What You Want