If you’re healthy and you know it, check your app.
Glad we’re not using the “quantified self” term anymore.
A newsletter about branding, startups, and mission-driven companies aiming to make the world a better place.
👋 Welcome to For The Love, so happy to have you all here!
Today we’ll be discussing:
Brands helping people optimize their health.
A roundup of new launches this week, including a *cue Dad joke* hot new upgrade for your morning coffee
The way to hit ALL your goals.
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💣 For The Love of Startups
The modern healthcare system is set up to fix problems, not prevent them.
But now, we have diagnostics at our fingertips — we can monitor our heart rates, know how restful our sleep was, even measure our stress levels from the tone of our voice, all with a device we wear on our wrists.
We have access to tools to help us optimize our health, that is, with the help of companies like Base and Levels.
These companies are giving people access to diagnostics and metabolic information that was previously only available through a doctor's visit, allowing people further insight into their general health.
Along with developments in hardware, the evolution of AI has helped in bringing this technology to consumers.
“The world of data science is now personalized — I want to know more about me, and I want this tailored for me. And based on my profile. It's something that has happened within the last five to ten years,” Base founder Lola Priego explained.
Levels bills themselves as “Your metabolism's heartbeat...Whether you’re tuning your diet, optimizing your exercise, or just trying to stay healthy, monitoring your glucose with Levels can help.”
Basically, a glucose monitor. It gives you insight into how food and exercise affect your blood sugar in real-time.
Is this new technology? No.
But in the past, it wasn’t readily available if you weren’t diabetic. Now, this is not without its issues. Critics of Levels claim that shortages in continuous glucose monitors are made worse by offering them up to those without an immediate need. Which...true. For some people, these are life-saving devices, and for others, they are health optimizers. I think it goes without saying who should be prioritized. I also believe that this degree of food tracking can lead to disordered eating, which can be said for a number of biohacking favorites, like intermittent fasting.
However, given that the CDC estimates approximately 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes this is definitely something worth tracking for many people.
Base has set out to achieve a broader set of health concerns — to answer the question, “Why am I feeling this way?” and to “improve your diet, sleep, stress, fatigue with affordable at-home lab testing.”
They are striving to help people answer those unanswered questions that may not prompt a doctor’s visit and are not in need of urgent care — the frustrating issue of just not feeling your best.
“Our product is so well equipped to help people understand something that is a pain point that can't get solved when they go to other solutions in the market. Our target audience -- it's people who already have a need or a problem that is not solved through other solutions,” Lola explained.
Based on your area of need, Base will send you a kit for a series of blood and/or saliva to test relevant vitamins and hormones. These tests can then be repeated at regular intervals to track your progress.
While most of their customers have diagnosed deficiencies causing poor sleep, stress, others have discovered indicators of more serious issues like hypothyroidism and diabetes.
It is important to note, these are not meant to replace your yearly physical, they are meant to supplement traditional healthcare. As Lola told me:
“Levels, Base, Modern Fertility and other companies — what all of them have in common is that we are not treating disease. We are treating wellness.”
What’s more common are simple vitamin deficiencies that have a large impact on your day-to-day wellness.
“The most common thing is vitamin D across the board, not a shocker given COVID, I think that 85% or 90% of people have been vitamin D deficient.”
Given that, with both Levels and Base, people are handing over personal data about their health *and* depending on accurate results, there’s one thing crucial for both of these brands to succeed...
While every brand benefits from building trust with its customers, it’s particularly crucial when it comes to aspects of your health. (We saw the other side of this with a certain diagnostic company, ahem, Theranos.)
Both do so by highlighting the science behind the technology, their expert partners, and social proof.
As Lola told me:
“Having good doctors on the board, as advisors, forcibly stated in the website is super important. Working with legitimate labs, super important, having testimonials of people...seeing that there are real people getting benefit out of Base is super important as well.”
Base leans more heavily into their process. They have a full webpage “Science” devoted to explaining their process, and why and how they get to their conclusions.
Levels highlight more anecdotal stories. They immediately personalize the experience by including an example of “Rachel’s” meal near the top of their landing page.
And a number of testimonials pulled from Twitter.
While their execution is slightly different, one through education, the other through anecdote, both serve to build trust with their customers.
Then, of course, they need to keep that trust.
Unless they want an HBO documentary.
🔥 For The Love of Newness
In case you’ve been yearning to “throw some lava in your java, ” Ujjo is hot sauce for, you guessed it — your coffee.
Folden Lane is a new brand aiming to make your home more organized *and* more sustainable.
Our Place, maker of the ubiquitous Always Pan (that Wirecutter is NOT a fan of), added knives and cutting boards to their lineup.
🔍 For The Love of the Details
There are a lot of things we have in common.
We all have goals — and now there’s a product out there that will enable us to reach them. Every last one of us.
Because we also all do something else…
That’s right — much like the answer to the meaning of life is 42, the way to reach *all* goals, all of them, is by pooping.
Did the person who named this never see the SNL Colon Blow commercial?
My goals can wait. I think I’ll…sit this one out.
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Written by Aja Singer, a brand and creative strategy consultant interested in all things startup, mission-driven, and community. Born in Canada. Based in Brooklyn. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.