Oura: The Strive for Wellness in One Ring
Not enough sleep? Large calorie intake? The answer to your worries might be - a ring. When it comes to wellness, the Oura ring is every fitness fanatic’s ‘precious.’
Brainstormed by the minds of Kari Kivelä, Markku Koskela, and Petteri Lahtela, the elegant and unintrusive little “health jewelry”, known as Oura, flung into the ever-changing world of today.
With Oura, the hurriedness of everyday life, the stress of daily errands, and the pressure of obligations are no more. Kari, Markuu, and Petteri unleashed their creative potential and designed one ring to rule everyone’s journey to wellbeing and optimal health. Usability and accurate healthcare information are two of Oura’s greatest traits.
Essentially, the ongoing chase for achieving a state of wellness is the starting point for many companies and their products. Unlike the others - Oura did it with a bang.
Set a few minutes aside and read more about what the guys at Oura did to improve everyone’s lives.
The Three Ring Bearers
Petteri Lahtela is a co-founder and former CEO of Oura. From a very young age, his interest has hovered around computer technology, as well as marketing. It’s why he obtained several degrees throughout his life, including a B.Sc in Computer and Information Science, an M.Sc in Computer Engineering and Telecommunications, as well as an e.MBA in International Business, all that before he turned 30.
His interest in wellness began with his first employment, where he learned the importance of being healthy and how improper healthcare can lead to some devastating physical and mental effects later in life. This is what initially led him to sketch the first concept of the Oura ring — as well as the cutting-edge technology behind it.
Kari Kivelä is the second co-founder, CTO, HW, and Head of Design at Oura. While his early beginnings are unknown, his involvement with Oura started as a passion for engineering when he first obtained an M.Sc in Industrial Engineering and Management in Finland. He has had a massive interest in design and hardware throughout his entire life and it was his design that paved the way for the final, more minimalist look of the Oura Ring.
Markku Koskela’s involvement in Oura is unknown, however, his inquiry into the human body is what helped him obtain an M.Sc in Physics, in Finland. He briefly worked as a teaching assistant at the Department of Physics at the University of Oulu before turning his attention to tech at the beginning of the 2000s. He is the third co-founder of Oura, as well as the R&D Manager in the company.
Technology and Health Under One App
Seeing as all three founders had some basis in technology, their main goal was to combine a minimalistic, Nordic look, alongside revolutionary technology, and biometric data into one product.
The initial purpose of the ring was to accurately measure sleep cycles and compare data to precisely assess a person’s ability to properly function during the day. However, the three founders decided to move further than that and broaden the function of the product, such as tracking physical activity, monitoring heartbeats, daily breathing patterns, and measuring caloric intake.
To make it more convenient, they decided to make the product a ring so that it was both comfortable to wear and discreet-looking. Seeing as they had the tech know-how on how to create the product they needed, it wasn’t long before Petteri, Kari, and Markku managed to establish Oura in 2013.
Celebrity Access Equals Success
Because all three founders launched Oura on an online platform that they created, it was difficult to reach a large market at first. For Petteri, manufacturing, and delivery were the biggest problems at the beginning of the launch, as was scaling from a country like Finland.
However, it wasn’t long before the Oura ring became a popular wellness item for celebrities. Ranging from actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, royals like Prince Harry, entrepreneurs like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and even sleep scientists like Arianna Huffington, it turned out to be a major hit on the outset.
In 2018, Oura received the Red Dot Award for its seamless design, one of the most prestigious product design competitions in the world. In 2019, the co-founders were the platinum winners at the MUSE Design Awards, winning Best Product Design. The following year, in 2020, Oura received the ‘Best Consumer Wellness Company’ award from UCSF Digital Health Awareness.
For the three entrepreneurs, it was a sign that their dedication to wellness had paid off, as did the initial design idea when they were first creating the ring. While putting up the online platform and design took years, the hard work and persistence did pay off, in the form of a unique health device that is both aesthetically pleasing and effective for users.
The Trouble With Investing
The biggest challenge for Petteri, Kari, and Markku was finding the funds to first launch the product. Since their mission was to create a lasting device that could monitor health, it was difficult to try and procure any money from investors, since they didn’t see a future with the Oura ring.
That’s why they shifted online where they relied on crowdfunding through Kickstarter to fund their first-ever product in 2016, three years after the initial founding of Oura. They managed to raise $5.3 million.
While business was relatively good, the three founders turned their attention towards the U.S to reach a more widely accessible market, and there they met their first private investor, Harpeet Rai. He took over the role of CEO in early 2017, aiming to penetrate the North American market.
In early 2018, Oura shipped their second-ever ring product.
Once at the helm, Harpeet’s knowledge of the U.S. investment market led him to land some lucrative funds for Oura. In 2019, they received over €17,500,000 from investors like Will Smith, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Youtube co-founder Steve Chen, basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal and celebrity chef David Chang. In addition to this, they received funds from Forerunner Ventures, Square, MSD Capital, Lifeline Ventures, Metaplent Holdings, and Next Ventures.
Aside from several other private and anonymous investors, Oura’s biggest investments came in 2021 from a Series C funding of $100,000,000 that included the Chernin group, Elysian Park, JAZZ Venture Partners, Temasek, and Eisai.
Their massive growth is what drove them to become one of the leading powerhouses in healthcare technology. For Petteri, the risk ultimately paid off when he decided to give the company in the hands of Harpeet.
The Future is Wellness
While Oura took more than a year to reach just 10 employees in 2018, today it has over 250 in both Finland and the United States. Currently, Oura has sold over 500,000 rings worldwide and the increase in demand, both from private individuals and healthcare companies, is expanding.
The COVID-19 pandemic is what sparked the idea for an additional feature to the ring — the ability to detect a fever. This is what ultimately helped sales skyrocket in 2020 and they are on their way to going toe-to-toe with giants like Google and Apple.
What started off as a dream to try and give information to people on how to better their health ultimately ended up becoming a success story for three Finnish entrepreneurs who combined their wits and tech knowledge to produce Oura.
For all three founders, this is just the beginning of global Oura expansion. Their idea to combine health and tech into one device is just protruding through the ever-expanding wellness industry — with the final goal being one ring to rule them all — and help keep track of multiple health concerns at once.