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How wearable tech can improve mental health, according to WHOOP CEO

WHOOP Founder Will Ahmed joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss wearable tech and how it can improve mental health, athlete investors, and the outlook for growth.

Video Transcript

BRAD SMITH: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live, everyone. Wearable technology company Whoop is not worried so much about tracking steps and workouts as much as it is about improving individual health and even focusing on mental health. For more on the future of wearable tech, we'd like to welcome on Whoop founder and CEO, Will Ahmed.

Will, great to speak with you here today. I mean, this is a big time for Whoop, as you see so many of the end users of products right now making different life changes and trying to get more in tune with themselves through the data of wearables. Where have you been able to see an uptick in terms of the users, the customers, who are gravitating towards the products and that data as well?

WILL AHMED: Well, thanks for having me on, Brad. I think right now is a very exciting time for health monitoring and especially for Whoop. The potential to continuously measure the human body and really provide insights into the human body that people otherwise would not know. You mentioned that mental health right now is a very important topic on a lot of people's minds. Obviously, we've just been dealing with a global pandemic, and mental health is at the forefront.

And the Whoop technology, we've been doing a lot of research around mental health. One of the core things that Whoop measures is, of course, sleep. And we've been able to show that getting more consistent sleep, getting more stage of sleep around REM sleep and slow wave sleep-- these are sort of core stages of sleep that Whoop ultimately measures-- that information increases overall mental health. And so it's a very exciting time. And I think the promise of this technology is to make people both healthier and happier.

BRAD SMITH: One of the things that I'm jealous of is when I see athletes, professional athletes, who you've partnered with, some of them invested in Whoop as well, when they are in the most high pressure scenarios, it seems like their own pressure kind of drops. It is mediated. How do the normal folks like myself get to that point, where we do kind of get this overwhelming sense of calm, even in those high pressure scenarios? And how can other people kind of learn to tap into that sense of a mental state, if you will?

WILL AHMED: Well, it cuts both ways, you know. I think the world's best athletes are put under enormous pressure all the time. And a lot of them have learned how to take that on. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're not feeling it. So from a physiological standpoint, you may see a Rory McIlroy, for example, who's in the PGA Championship today and leading the tournament, you may see his heart rate actually quite elevated during certain shots. And he may not look nervous, but he's actually feeling something.

And I think the fascinating thing about professional athletes is that they're able to control the way that they feel under a lot of stress. So it's not necessarily that they don't feel stress at all. It's that they've learned how to cope with it. And that's also something that Whoop helps its members do, is really understand what are the certain things I can do to control my body and to live in a state of comfort and happiness.

JULIE HYMAN: Hey, Will, how many people, how many members do you have at this point? And do you see this as a mass product? I mean, to me, at least, it seems like it is something that is better served for people who are either professionals or are really on the higher end of the being keenly aware of their fitness spectrum.

WILL AHMED: Yeah, on the membership side, we don't disclose those numbers at this time. I can tell you, the membership has been growing enormously. And it has evolved from the world's best athletes to now being a product for everyone. I think the core attribute that holds members together is that they're aspirational. That doesn't necessarily mean fit. That doesn't necessarily mean they work out all the time.

They tend to have an area that they want to improve. And that could be their overall lifestyle. That could be improving sleep. We see a lot of tracking today around just general lifestyle and behavioral decisions, so things around diet and supplements and different behaviors, like meditation or yoga. These are the types of things that people are now tracking to better understand how they affect their body.

And Whoop is able to give feedback to say, hey, this supplement works for you, but this one doesn't. And so you should take more of this, right? And I think the notion that all this data can be used in a very personalized way is pretty critical. And then we do feel that has a mass market appeal.

BRAD SMITH: Will, just while we have you here, very briefly, you know, it's interesting. We were talking about private companies and what the funding looks like them going forward-- for them going forward from here. And so with that in mind, you know, how have you been able to interface with either individuals or private equity teams that have funded Whoop to this point in time in order to secure whatever additional capital is needed to kind of navigate the environment that businesses are facing at this point in time?

WILL AHMED: Yeah, it's a great question. I think fortunately for Whoop, we raised about $300 million in a nine-month time frame. So, and most of that capital came in the last 15 months. So we do have a strong balance sheet. The business has raised about $400 million in capital today. And so we do have runway for years to come.

And I think that's an important thing right now for all businesses. We're looking at a recession. We're looking at a very different macro environment. Tech stocks are trading down, or their valuation multiples are changing. So this is a time to be responsible, to be thoughtful about your cost profile. But fortunately, for Whoop, we're well positioned.

JULIE HYMAN: Will, thanks so much for being here. Excuse me for sneezing while you were talking before.

WILL AHMED: It's OK.

JULIE HYMAN: Maybe I need a Whoop to tell me--

WILL AHMED: Allergy season.

JULIE HYMAN: --how I can improve my overall health. Will Ahmed, Whoop founder and CEO, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.