This is a very interesting episode about the state of the wearable world we are entering in. The product that Alex Danco is building is called Backtrack and it is meant to help you understand progress as you recover from back pain. You affix it to your back, connect (via bluetooth) to their smartphone app and catalog your recovery. This is cool in itself but, as you’ll see through this entire episode, the underlying conversation is really about the progression of what a “wearable” is.
Today’s popular wearables – including the coming Apple Watch – are generalists. Put it on, gather data like steps taken, stairs climbed, hours slept, standard stuff. The PROBLEM with this is that for most of us this data is not very important UNLESS we are having health issues or we are training for things that elite athletes train for. The rest of us just want to make sure we are doing everything we can do to live a healthy life and, perhaps, recover faster from an injury.
This is where the wearable world and precise, temporary technology meet to help and Alex’s company is right in the middle of it. We’ve all suffered from back pain before and it is a frustrating injury because it seems as though nothing helps and it takes too long to heal. Here’s Backtrack to help visualize the healing progress and help us understand what is going on – all from a wearable.
Is this the start of the temporary, targeted wearable? Watch and then answer that question.
You can see their Kickstarter campaign here
Key takeaways from this episode. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip
1. What is Backtrack 2:30
2. Why get into this line of business 4:00
3. What was the “aha” moment 5:15
4. What does Backtrack do? 6:35
5. How does it work on a back? 8:35
6. How does it work with a phone? 10:00
7. How does Backtrack quantify improvement? 11:15
8. With baseline health data, can you get into predictions? 16:00
9. Is Backtrack at the start of a trend of temporary targeted wearables? 18:35
10. How do you sell this niche product? 21:40
11. What challenges have you overcome? 23:30
12. 2 ways to use the data 25:00
13. THE biggest reason behind building this product 26:30
14. Does the product move into preventative health as well? 28:15
15. Are we lifting the fog of war from the health industry? 29:30
16. The changing role of the physician 31:40
17. Will this type of technology stop us from learning how to think? 33:00
18. What do you hope happens as a result of Backtrack? 35:50
19. Why build your own hardware and not just partner with other hardware makers? 37:40
Click here to download the transcript
About Alex Danco
Alex Danco grew up in Burlington, Vermont as the son of two entrepreneurs, and came to Montreal in 2007 to attend McGill University. Alex completed his undergraduate degree in physiology, where (while surrounded by pre-med kids) he became interested in chronic pain research while volunteering in the lab of Dr. Laura Stone. After a year of helping out on others’ projects, he joined the lab full time as a graduate student in 2011, as a part of a Master’s degree through McGill’s Integrated Program in Neuroscience. During his degree he designed and carried out several groundbreaking experiments on low back pain, intervertebral disc degeneration and exercise, recognized at the national and international level. Shortly after graduating with his Master’s degree in 2013 he met Alex Daskalov, and after a few idea-filled conversations they hatched the plan that would become Backtrack. They then joined TandemLaunch, a consumer electronics and technology transfer incubator based in Montreal, out of which Backtrack currently operates. Backtrack launched its first product, a wearable tool for rehab and recovery from back pain, November 11 on Kickstarter.
Some of Alex’s past activities that have contributed to his thinking around Backtrack are his summer planting trees in northern Canada, where he learned all about the numbers game (and, by extension, how Venture Capital works), his years in The Fundamentals, a touring band full of like-minded funny people, and his time as captain of the varsity cross-country ski team at McGill. He is an avid follower of the Montreal Canadiens, Benedict Evans’ blog, and the Steve Dangle Podcast. You can read more of his thoughts and ideas on alexdanco.com, and follow him at @alex_danco.