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Podcast No. 78: Nate Checketts, Rhone Co-Founder and CEO
We’ve partnered with two leading high-performance brands, Rhone and Alala, to upgrade the WHOOP store, and to celebrate we’re sharing our conversation with Rhone Co-Founder and CEO Nate Checketts.
We’re excited to announce a brand new drop of WHOOP apparel! We’ve partnered with two leading high-performance brands, Rhone and Alala, to upgrade the WHOOP store, and to celebrate we’re sharing our conversation with Rhone Co-Founder and CEO Nate Checketts. Nate discusses entrepreneurship and the inspiration behind founding Rhone, as well as what he’s learned from running a business during COVID and why he’s grateful to have more time with his family. Additionally, he talks about his fascination with wearable technology, his views on the role of tech in the world today, and how he uses WHOOP to optimize his own life. Nate also breaks down the full lineup of new WHOOP gear available now.
Nate Checketts Podcast Show Notes:
1:56 - A Born Businessman. “In many ways it felt like I didn’t really have a choice about it, for better or for worse. I didn’t know it was called being an entrepreneur when I was younger but I was always selling something, hawking something to friends at school. Me and my brothers always had a lemonade stand growing up. We accidentally were selling lemonade at the end of our street and started selling it to a wedding - what we thought was a wedding - it ended up being a wake for this woman’s husband at the end of the street. So we got in big trouble for that! I was always interested in building and making things and selling them.” 4:03 - From the NFL to Rhone. Nate shares his journey from working a corporate job with the NFL to co-founding Rhone. “I felt a lot of guilt not being happy [at the NFL], but I just wasn’t. The idea for Rhone came from my brother-in-law, we were looking at the retail landscape and we felt like it was changing so much and this was a really interesting category. I knew I wanted to do something in that vein.” 7:30 - Why WHOOP? “I sometimes get wearable overload so I just take stuff off, but I have my WHOOP and I wear it all the time. The charging is the most game-changing part about it, the wireless charging. That is just so cool. As soon as I was wearing it I said, ‘This is the coolest thing. I’ve never seen anything like this.’ Slide that charger on, it’s so awesome.” 8:06 - Remembering David Stern. Nate and Will reflect on the life and legacy of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who served as an early investor and advisor to both companies. “I loved that guy,” Nate says. “It amazed me to the degree that he showed up [to company events] and would respond to us as young entrepreneurs who looked for mentorship and guidance, and he was this guy who, by all metrics, really stood out as an incredible business leader and magnate. For him to give that much time to me and you and others just speaks to who he was,” Will adds. 10:00 - How the NFL Uses Wearables. “Working at the NFL, I was part of the team that worked on the Next Gen Stats project. For those that don’t know, the Next Gen Stats is where we were effectively putting wearables on players’ shoulder pads and tracking everything from impact to acceleration to watching the formation take place. We talked to every single trackable wearable out there on the market. We were going out and putting them on various shoulder pads. How do you bifurcate the data? Here’s the data that you want to be consumer available and here’s the data that’s related to health and safety that you don’t necessarily want to be digestible.” 10:43 - WHOOP and Diabetes. “I just have a natural fascination with wearables in general. I’m Type 1 Diabetic so I have an insulin pump on my arm at all times and I have a CGM (continuous glucose monitor). I have a real interest in how wearables can impact overall health and wellness and really tell you a lot about yourself.” 12:35 - Business Philosophy. “We’ve always said that if we’re not the best in the category we’re playing in then we shouldn’t even be playing in that category.” 13:13 - Fabric Enhancements. “We pioneered this fabric technology called Goldfusion, which uses gold and silver particles that get infused into the fabric to fight odor and bacteria and it actually improves the dry time. It started as an agricultural crop disease fighter so it’s not bad for the environment like every other antibacterial treatment on the planet. You can actually drink the solution.” Nate says that Goldfusion treatment remains 99% effective after 100 washes. “We were blown away with the results.” 16:21 - WHOOP and Rhone. Nate breaks down each piece of new WHOOP apparel now available:
- Reign Tech T-Shirt and Long Sleeve: “The way I describe it is it’s almost like that heritage college tee that you love that has your college name across the chest. It feels like that from a comfort standpoint, but it’s lighter and it has all of the technical properties that these synthetics have.”
- Element T-Shirt: “It’s more of your everyday shirt.”
- Heritage French Terry Full-Zip: “This is the perfect piece for right now. I’m living in sweats like now, I think most people are. … The heritage collection is really about that classic sweatpant and zip-up hoodie feel with all the technical properties that we bring to it. That’s part of what we want to bring: Real, classic look and feel, deeply, deeply comfort-based, but with all these technical properties overlaid.”
- Courtside Quarter-Zip: “It’s almost like a little bit retro basketball. It’s this ultra-soft mesh that we developed.”
- Guru pant: “It’s a lighter weight pant. It’s more of a travel pant than anything else. You wear this hiking, you can definitely wear it running. It’s very tapered. It tapers down to the ankle nicely. The whole thing is perforated, which means it’s small perforations throughout the fabric, so it breathes really, really well. The more you move in it, the more to stretch in it, the better air perforation you get.”
- 7-inch short: “We make our training shorts to be multipurpose. We do have some shorts that are more focused for running and yoga and different modalities. I think the vast majority of people - and I’d be interested to know what the WHOOP data is showing on this - the vast majority of people want to do a little bit of everything, versus just one thing. … I like to do a little bit of everything so our shorts are made to do that too. It’s made out of an Italian fabric that I just fell in love with.”
26:52 - Running. “I love 20-30 minute HIIT sessions and then I’ll do a 7-mile run on Saturdays. It’s like my reset. Just go out and get a nice, beautiful run in. I ran the New York City Marathon in November and I just fell in love with outside running. That’s my thing, I love to do that. For joint longevity purposes, I limit it to 7 miles and I just go once a week.” 27:30 - Eating Late. “After wearing my WHOOP and tracking my own sleep, it’s interesting, as somebody who is endocrinology challenged with my diabetes, the impact of eating late is [huge]. I just don’t think enough people talk about it. I know you probably talk about it, but just in general I didn’t appreciate how much of an impact late-night eating was having on my sleep.” 29:04 - Business Post-COVID. “I think what’s been impressive is just how well our team has worked through this. I know that in our case at Rhone that most of us are built to be able to work from home, but with all the added complexity with parents being teachers and having to manage all of the complexity that comes with COVID, they’ve still been highly effective at getting things done. I was talking to our head of people and saying, ‘We need to learn something coming out of this. We cannot be going back to the office and just saying that was a great learning experience but let’s just go back to doing exactly what we were doing.’ We’ve talked about how we embrace what we’ve learned from the work-from-home environment. I think the fear has been always that people will abuse [working from home], but this has really opened my mind.” 30:52 - Parenting During the Pandemic. “I’ve got 3 kids, three boys ages 11, 8, and 4. I’ve always loved being a dad, but this has been a really special time with the kids. We have 3 meals a day together, not every day, but most of the days we get to eat 3 meals together a day. I’m trying hard to protect that because I know that this is a small moment in time that’s likely not repeatable. … I think being able to spend time with the people you care the most about, that’s really cool.” 34:34 - Advice for Prospective Entrepreneurs. “I would really challenge yourself to ask if you really do want to start a business. It’s hard. I think people underestimate how hard it is. There’s a lot of ups and downs and challenges from it, so just make sure that you’re really committed because the truth is the data shows most businesses fail. You’ve got to be willing to push through hard, dark, difficult times, and there’s great rewards that can come if you do.” 35:35 - The Rise in Entrepreneurship. “When we were growing up, nobody was like, ‘I aspire to be an entrepreneur.’ That was a title for your uncle who didn’t have a job, you know what I mean? But now it’s become somewhat glamorized. … I just think people need to be very realistic about themselves that there are some really great things that can come but there are some other challenges. Not everybody is an entrepreneur, and that’s okay. I would say if you are committed to doing it, the piece of advice I always give is embrace your own ignorance. Don’t feel like you have to know everything, just start moving.” Check out Nate on Instagram @NateChecketts and find Rhone at Rhone.com.