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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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Dylan: It’s 50 on Fire Eve, which means that tickets for Thursday’s event jump up by $10 after midnight tonight. Don’t forget to check out this Q&A we did with some of our finalists, including PayPal Media vet David Chang and Follain CEO Tara Foley.

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: With 50 on Fire happening tomorrow, we’re highlighting a couple more of our finalists. For today’s Beat, we’re going to focus on WHOOP, which has built a synonymous $500 wearable device that measures body strain and recovery for athletes.

For my profile, I talked to Neurable CEO Ramses Alcaide, who had become an avid user of WHOOP while training for the Boston Marathon and for another race, where he ended up losing the device while swimming under two floating barrels. The moment he realized he had lost the device, Alcaide had swam back into the freezing water to look for the device for a good 10 minutes before giving up on it.

Alcaide isn’t the first person to have a story like this, where WHOOP user feels a sense of alarm as soon as they are separated from the device. Anecdotes like these help illustrate why WHOOP has been able to build a sense of loyalty among its users, attract star athletes like LeBron James and Michael Phelps and land agreements with Major League Baseball and the NFL Players Association. WHOOP keeps its sales numbers a secret, but the company said its wearable is used by pro athletes across all major North American sports leagues — including the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Women’s National Basketball League — as well as by Olympians and CrossFit teams.

As more established wearable companies like Fitbit experience waning popularity, WHOOP’s focus on established and aspiring athletes looking to improve their performance could put the wearable company in a league of its own.

With a strap that fits around your wrist, the WHOOP is able to measure body strain before and after workouts, how fast it takes for your body to recover and how much you sleep every night. Using that data, WHOOP provides suggestions through an analytics dashboard on how to find a balance between pushing your body’s limits during workouts and avoiding overtraining or injury. Suggestions can include when to sleep more, drink less or take a break from more intense workouts for a day or two.

“Professional athletes wouldn’t wear something continuously unless it gives them really meaningful data,” Will Ahmed, WHOOP’s CEO and founder, said. “That’s what differentiates WHOOP from other companies on the market.” Read more: How WHOOP Became a Beloved Wearable Among Pro Athletes

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves in Boston.

Dylan: Gamer Sensei, another 50 on Fire Finalist, announced recently that it has signed agreements for Becker College, Brown University and other higher ed institutions to provide its esports coaching platform to students for free. Collegiate esports is becoming a big deal, with the National Association of Collegiate Esports now counting 47 schools as members while the National Collegiate Athletic Association has been discussing whether to support it. Read more: Colleges Seek Edge in Esports with Free Coaching for Students

Lucy: North Billerica-based Curriculum Associates has acquired Motion Math to further help elementary students improve their math fluency and number sense. As a result, Motion Math’s games will be available as a supplement to i-Readycurrently used by over 5M students and educators nationwide. 

Dylan: Good news for Rapid7: the Boston cybersecurity company’s stock price went up by more than 7% today after reporting positive financial results for Q3 yesterday evening. The company beat Wall Street’s expectations in both revenue and earnings. The company’s Q3 revenue increased 25% y-o-y to $50.5M.

Lucy: New Office Envy alert. Extra-soft couches and matching pillows are some of the main features of the Fort Point office of OwnerIQ, an advertising technology company that has a total of six locations in the U.S., including Boston. In August, the company moved from the 4th to the 6th floor of the building at 27-43 Wormwood Street (the same building that’s home to software company Zerto and NPR’s Digital Services). Currently, OwnerIQ occupies the whole floor. “Tech companies tend to be crammed,” Jay SchaufeldSVP of human resources, told me during a tour. “We have room for our employees to spread out, which is in line with our company values: collaboration and transparency.” Read more: Office Envy: Inside OwnerIQ’s Super Comfy Office in Fort Point 

Dylan: Now for some sad news for the Boston innovation scene: Katherine Catlin, who ran the High-Growth CEO Forum with Bouzha Cookman, died last Thursday at the age of 69. Scott Kirsner wrote about the High-Growth CEO Forum — considered “a hidden secret of the New England tech economy” — for The Boston Globe back in August.

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Lucy: Partners HealthCare System has raised $171.1M in capital to invest in early-stage life sciences companies. The funds raised include $66.1M in outside capital for Partners Innovation Fund II and a $105M commitment from Partners institutions to Partners Innovation Fund.

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: Pixability, a video advertising platform, has hired Alan Beiagi as its chief product officer. Beiagi was most recently VP of product management at DataXu.

Lucy: Jit Saxena is joining the board of directors of Cambridge Semantics. Saxena is the founder and former CEO of Netezza.

Read This Right Now

Insight and analysis from the community and beyond.

Dylan: Rob Go, co-founder of VC firm NextView, wrote a blog post about what startups should do when they discover a well-funded competitor: “It’s really hard to both watch your competitors closely and remain hyper-focused on your own North Star. Even if you are monitoring your competition’s traction closely, you can’t let that dictate your product priorities.” 

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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