The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
John West, “Power of Influencer Content”

John West, “Power of Influencer Content”

August 19, 2021

John West, a serial entrepreneur across multiple businesses before getting into the exciting world of Sports content, influencers and social media platforms.  Started Team Whistle in 2009 after several years of figuring out his next move.  Recently partnered and merged with Eleven Sports.  Learn about his entrepreneurial journey and amazing stories of how he build a company that now has over 4 billion impressions per months across over 1,600 “Channels” of influencers and online personalities.  

 

Key Highlights

  1. Early days as entrepreneur in environmental engineering business in his early 20s – company still around till today
  2. Getting a Harvard MBA while working and sold the business
  3. Next stop, New York City – Mitchell Madison, new Consulting group – fast growing business
  4. Silver Oak Solutions – 2nd entrepreneurial company in “spend management”, software to automate spending patterns of private equity firm’s assets – sold successfully as well
  5. How he got “back” into sports and learning from his kids habits on how they consumed content (media).
  6. A group of people who made the difference in getting Team Whistle started (Geraldine Laybourne, Don Tapscott’s book “Growing up Digital”  and Mark Lazor)
  7. Researched topic for four years, personal learning curve and getting the product right – GenZ focus – first few ideas didn’t work well
  8. Focus on UGC (User generated content) across social media platforms – now managing over 1,600 channels and platforms
  9. Big hit with “Dude Perfect” , help them with wider distribution, content creation and bring advertisers to them
  10. Now over 500 “partners” (influencers) and over 200 Whistle owned channels
  11. Not going Negative – Content focused on being “positive, fun and entertaining”, focus on 13-15 year old’s
  12. Raising Money for growth – total raise over US$ 110 mil by now
  13. Revenue share model with partners and influencers - don’t need to own all the content, key is owning the data behind it and finding ways to monetize it
  14. “Brother”  big show on Snap – one great example with a social media platform
  15. 4 billion monthly views, 600 million followers globally across all channels. Currently focused on US and Europe. Expanding globally
  16. Further growth by acquisition, getting high profile investors into the business (lots of miles travelled) and partnership with Eleven Sports (Andrea Radizzani).
  17. Logic behind the deal with Eleven and the synergies between the companies – merged stock deal – combined US$ 300 mil in revenue
  18. Esports & Gaming – 25 Pro-Gamers as partners, lifestyle, etc
  19. Harvard Business School connections and his involvement as the President of the Harvard Alumni network

 

About John West

John West is the Executive Chairman of Team Whistle, which he founded in 2008.  Prior to that, he was the CEO and Chairman of Silver Oak Solutions, which he founded in 1999, and sold to CGI in 2005.  Prior to that he was a Partner at Michell Management Group, and also Founder and CEO of Enstrat from 1989 until he sold it in 1996.

John has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  He has served on several Boards at Harvard, and is currently the volunteer President of the Harvard Alumni Association.  John lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

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Harpreet Singh Rai, “Wearable Health And Wellness”

Harpreet Singh Rai, “Wearable Health And Wellness”

August 5, 2021

Harpreet Singh Rai, the CEO of OURA Health Ltd, a Finish company which is making a huge splash in the wearable health and wellness space through its smart ring product.  He shares his stories how he became involved in the business and where he is planning to take it.  Great stories on how the product works and the benefits behind it, to the future growth and plans of the business.   

 

Key Highlights

  1. Coming out college wanting to be an engineer, spending his first 10 years in the financial world on Wall Street, including Eminence Capital, multi billion dollar Fund, investing in tech 
  2. Combined his passion for health and wellness with his research in the tech space and getting into wearables as an early adopter/user
  3. Running into the co-founder at a grocery store – and hitting it off 
  4. Personally investing in the company in 2016 and joining the board.  Joining the company full time, in 2017 as President/CEO 
  5. Founders from Finland, country with great history in tech and health culture (Nokia, Polar, etc)
  6. OURA – focus on sleep tracking – massive benefits of the right amount and type of sleep (lack of sleep is detrimental to health)
  7. OURA ring – how it works, the data it measures, what it does and comparison to other wearables 
  8. “Sleep is the world’s best (legal) performance enhancing drug” quote by Matthew Walker, Author of “Why we Sleep”
  9. What were the first users, beyond the early “bio hackers” adopters – awareness of Sleep becoming more main stream
  10. Sports connection, with NBA, UFC, NFL teams all inbound requests based on the product benefits 
  11. Covid influence on the business – very positive due to the ability to detect potential Covid infection before people show symptoms
  12. Shipped over 500k rings since inception, doubling every year – raised Series C, over US$ 100 mil 
  13. Great diverse group of investors globally, from Google to Temasek (Singapore Wealth Fund), Michael Dell and others. Strategic Investors supporting growth.
  14. Ouraring.com – only available online, shipping to 100 countries globally  - North America biggest markets, Europe and Asia growing 
  15. What’s the future going forward.  Wearable market, 200 million units globally – smart phones over 1 billion. 
  16. Opportunities for more use cases to measure important health markers and build in preventive measures to detect heart attacks and others early signs of illnesses      
  17. Next steps after raising the money -  growth, SPACs, IPO and other options out there 
  18. Strong growth margins and profitable business 
  19. Challenges and how to overcome them – strong company values = solutions focused (find 3 solutions to every problem), Ubuntu (ancient African word -humanity to others)

 

About Harpreet Singh Rai

Harpreet Singh Rai is the chief executive officer of Oura and a member of its board. His purpose is to be part of a team that is committed to improving the well-being of others. Under his leadership, Oura has grown to a team of nearly 100 employees and has launched its Generation 2 ring, shipping over 100,000 units to 90 different countries. He is responsible for Oura’s vision and strategy and guides decisions that ensure the organization’s financial health.

Before Oura, Rai was a portfolio manager who led the technology, media and telecom portfolio at Eminence Capital for 9nine years. He began his career working in Morgan Stanley’s merger and acquisitions group. Rai studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan.

 

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