Will Ahmed isn’t just the face of Whoop, the wearable-tech firm he started in 2012 to optimize human health and performance with 24/7 data-tracking.
He’s part of a wave of fast-growing Boston tech companies charting a new path for what the local ecosystem can achieve. Boston doesn’t have a reputation for spinning out sexy technology companies — most of the city’s tech foundation consists of business software and infrastructure firms, which don’t necessarily become global, household names.
But that may be starting to change: Ahmed’s Whoop is at the forefront of a pack of well-funded companies poised to take over leadership of the region. Along with other established firms such as Klaviyo in marketing and relative newcomers like Aura in cybersecurity and Commonwealth Fusion Systems in energy, Whoop offers a glimpse of the future.
“We certainly take great pride in being one of the primary consumer tech brands in Boston,” said Ahmed.
Whoop makes colorful, sensor-laden wristbands that collect and analyze health metrics, like heart rate and sleep data, so athletes — and regular people — can make adjustments in their daily lives. (Ahmed starts his morning with a cold shower and avoids caffeine after 2 p.m. to feel his best.)
Ahmed started the company while studying at Harvard. The captain of the university’s squash team wanted to know whether it was possible to harness the body’s physiology to get a better workout.
Now Whoop is doing studies with the US Coast Guard, helping employees avoid burnout at work, and launching features to help women tell how their menstrual cycle or pregnancy affects their well-being.
Last valued at $3.6 billion, Whoop employs more than 700 people. Ahmed said the company plans to have close to 1,000 employees by the end of the year — though he’s mindful of the slowdown in the overall tech market.
Perhaps nothing symbolizes the company’s rise better than the flashy sign that sits atop Whoop’s future headquarters in Kenmore Square, which the firm will move into early next year. It makes Whoop a prominent feature of Boston’s skyline for fans sitting at Fenway Park, and it can be seen during sporting events whenever there’s an aerial shot of the Citgo sign, Ahmed said.
And that’s just fine — he wants Whoop to be a Boston landmark. He pointed to three qualities that make the city the right place to “build pretty revolutionary technology that’s dedicated to improving people’s health.”
“It’s a city with amazing universities and education, it has an amazing health care system and hospital system, and it also has really talented engineers and people,” Ahmed said. “We’re a Boston-born-and-bred technology company and we’re quite proud of that.”
Anissa Gardizy can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.