PWR Lab is Moonshot’s latest pitch winner with wearable information concept.
When Adam Stepanovic worked as a data scientist in big tech in Northern California, he saw a problem with the way data collected by these companies was – and wasn’t – used.
On the one hand was the wealth of information collected, analyzed and segmented to target end users, insights basically aggregated for “marketing and manipulation,” as Stepanovic put it.
Meanwhile, a lot of actionable data was left out – information that, with a user’s consent, could be employed to benefit both companies and consumers.
“If we give individuals the power to choose who has access to their data and what they want in return for that access, it creates a balanced opportunity for companies and customers alike,” he said.
With that philosophy, Stepanovic and his partners, computational engineer Chris Berthiaume and physical therapist Jeff Moreno, founded PWR Lab four years ago. The company has developed a platform that aggregates “lived experience” data, primarily what is collected by devices like smartwatches and other wearables.
For example, a runner wearing a GPS-enabled smartwatch generates data that would tell a running shoe company how often that individual runs and whether that activity occurs on trails or pavement. Geo-location information could identify prevailing weather conditions in the region. All these are factors that would enable the company to quickly and accurately identify the best products for that runner.
The customer would get timely advice on the perfect pair of running shoes and related equipment and clothing, while the company’s valuable recommendations would build brand affinity and customer loyalty.
In fact, it was a lived experience that led Stepanovic and his partners to the idea of using wearable data to help both companies and consumers.
“I had a running injury and was seeing Jeff as my physical therapist,” he said. “We were wondering why it was so hard to find the right equipment for runners and how helpful it would be for Jeff, as my PT, to use the data collected from my smartwatch to help me prevent my injury in the first place.”
PWR Lab is currently concentrating on partnerships with brands in the athletic sector, where lived experience information from wearables is particularly relevant. Among their current clients are: Brooks running shoes, Method Seven specialty optics, and the Fleet Feet chain of stores.
But, unlike most big tech companies, PWR Lab has a feeling of deep responsibility to the individuals who are generating the information.
“The data is being collected either way, if you have any type of digital device,” Stepanovic said. “Our company makes it easy to connect with brands and services that care enough about you to focus on how your data can be a benefit to you as an individual.”
The PWR Lab platform makes it clear what data is being collected and individuals are in control of whether that information is shared with a particular company.
Ultimately, the company expects to establish the digital standard for data from wearables across a broader range of consumer brands and categories and not just those in the athletic sector. The company estimates that currently as much as 99% of the value of data from wearables remains untapped.
It was this potential that caught the attention of Moonshot at NACET, the entrepreneurial program based in Flagstaff.
PWR Lab moved to Flagstaff last year as Stepanovic and his family sought to escape the frequent wildfires and prohibitive housing costs of Northern California. The family was familiar with Flagstaff through relatives – Stepanovic’s sister-in-law is an Olympic runner based in the city, and her husband, Mike Smith, heads the track and field program at Northern Arizona University.
Not long after moving to Flagstaff, PWR Lab became a client of Moonshot and is working out of the program’s accelerator building on the North Gemini campus.
“Moving to Flagstaff has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” said Stepanovic. “The community is warm and vibrant. The environment is unmatched. Moonshot at NACET is the cherry on top, because it’s such an ideal location to grow a company with amazing support.”
The admiration is mutual. Last month, PWR Lab took the top prize at Moonshot’s annual Pioneer Pitch competition. It was among 14 area startups in the event, which was judged by a panel of community stakeholders, business mentors and Moonshot staff.
“We chose PWR Lab for first prize because it’s a forward-thinking Moonshot idea that has unlimited future uses, builds off of Flagstaff’s growing digital technology sector, and will create high-paying jobs in Northern Arizona,” said Moonshot at NACET President and CEO Scott Hathcock.
PWR Lab is now working to connect with more advisors, investors, like-minded companies and individuals that might be interested in their platform.
By Cindy May, FBN