If you haven't yet heard of Oura, you soon will. As, no doubt, you'll soon be hearing of Harpreet Rai, the chief executive officer of Oura and one of the fastest-growing talents around.
Oura, for those not yet in the know, is a Finnish health technology company that's best known for the Oura Ring, a smart ring that can be used to track sleep, physical activities, and, if the latest research is to be believed, monitor your COVID status. Keen to find out more? Then stay tuned as we take you through 10 things you didn't know about Harpreet Rai.
1. He took over as Oura CEO in 2018
In July 2018, Oura CEO Petteri Lahtela stepped down from the position in order to turn his focus to developing new products and services under his new role as Oura Health President and Chief Innovation Officer. Lahtela's shoes were quickly filled by the then Oura Ring Inc. President, Harpreet Rai.
Those who were already aware of Rai's potential were unsurprised by the news. Lahtela, meanwhile, announced via a statement that he was confident that Rai was the ideal man for the job. "I have great respect for Harpreet," he said. "He knows the US market and can lead us towards growth and greater market penetration. I'm excited about this next phase for Oura."
2. He's inspired exponential growth at Oura
Oura has been growing steadily since its inception in 2013. But under Rai, its rate of growth has increased exponentially. It now has almost 100 employees, has launched the second generation of its flagship ring, and has amassed over 100,000 sales in 90 different countries. As CEO, Rai has full responsibility for the company's financial strategy and overall vision. Judging by recent developments, he's more than capable on both scores.
3. He worked at Eminence Capital for nine years
Prior to joining Oura in 2013, Rai had built a successful career at Eminence Capital, a global asset management firm with a focus on long/short and long equity investing. At the company, he led the technology, media, and telecom portfolio via his position as a TMT Portfolio Manager. Prior to that, he worked for several years in Morgan Stanley’s merger and acquisitions group in New York.
4. He studied at the University of Michigan
Rai may work for a Finnish company these days but he was educated in the US. After high school, he studied at the University of Michigan, eventually graduating with a degree in electrical engineering.
5. He believes in giving people control over their health
Simply wearing an Oura ring isn't going to make you healthy. If you eat junk food daily, sleep sporadically, and exercise biannually, you can wear all the rings in the world and you're still going to be tired, overweight, and about as healthy as a double cheeseburger. But what Oura does give you is insight.
That, and control - two things which, for Rai at least, are the key to long term health. Speaking to goldhouse.org, he explained why he believes Oura occupies such a valuable segment of the market. "Oura (helps) people listen to the body’s signals, analyze those signals and provide actionable insights," he explains.
"We were founded on the principle that your health is unique and requires long term measurement and personalization. Giving consumers more control over, and insight into, their health is the future and Oura is leading the way."
6. He blames the internet for poor sleep
Remember the days before the internet? It's hard to imagine now, but not too long ago, computers were for offices and the only gadgets we had in our homes were a TV and radio. According to Rai, those were the glory days, at least from a sleep perspective. But then along came the world wide web and spoiled it all.
In an interview with wellnessforce.com, Rai explained how 24/7 availability and never-ending distractions have taken a toll on our sleep - and how the tracking abilities of the Oura ring can help reverse the trend. “If you rewind thirty or forty years ago and before the Internet, we used to feel and think about our sleeping patterns a lot more but now we're so distracted and I don't think we have time to feel," he said.
"Now that we're busier than ever, it's harder for us to take the time to concentrate on what our bodies are telling us and therefore, tracking makes more sense now than it ever did before. Tracking holds you accountable as you start to look at the data and ask yourself simple questions that can lead to lifestyle changes.”
7. He may have cracked COVID
Wearing an Oura ring won't stop you from getting COVID. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have a part to play in the fight against the virus. According to research, the ring can predict COVID-19 symptoms up to three days in advance, with an accuracy rate of 90%.
As Rai explained in a “Squawk Box” interview, he found out about the ring's capability almost completely by chance. “It started with our users,” he explained. “One user of ours in Finland was traveling in early March. His scores were normally in the 80s or 90s and he noticed his readiness score dropped to 50 and that caused him to get tested. He was positive for coronavirus.”
8. He's making waves at the NBA
Since it was discovered that the Oura ring could predict the symptoms of COVID, the whole world and its mother have suddenly become interested in Rai and Oura... including the NBA. The organization has now purchased over 1000 units of the product in advance of the season.
Despite the fact it was never developed with that intention in mind, Rai understands why the league has become so intent on capitalizing on its potential. “They felt like giving the players and staff an added rate of protection and frankly peace of mind,” he told CNBC.
9. He's committed to protecting data
Since the NBA decided to adopt the Oura ring as its unofficial mascot, many people have expressed concerns over how it may affect the safety of players. After all, the ring is essentially a tracking device; in the wrong hands, the information it collects could have major repercussions.
But Oura is a Finnish company, and if there's one thing Finns understands only too well, it's the importance of data security. As Rai explains to republicworld.com, the privacy of players is protected by the use of an “aggregated risk score” to access factors like changes in body temperature, respiratory rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. Only this score, not individual metrics, are made available to authorized NBA and NBPA staff members.
10. He sees further potential in the sports arena
According to Rai, the success of the Oura ring at predicting COVID will soon allow the company to make inroads with other sports leagues. During an interview with si.com, Rai said that Oura was currently in conversation with “all the big ones,” and that he was also exploring the possibility of moving into college sports. “We’re convinced that it’s gonna be useful,” he said.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee