Episode
6

Kyriakos Eleftheriou

Ex-special forces & recent graduate from YC, Kyriakos and his team are transforming the wearable technology sector by building Terra. Terra acts as a bridge between wearables and mobile apps.

Ep
6

Creating the world's first platform to connect all health data to apps

September 6, 2021
With
Kyriakos Eleftheriou
31:41

Creating the world's first platform to connect all health data to apps

His LinkedIn bio states, "make something people want" and that's exactly what he's done. As the founder of Terra, he's built a platform that can bridge the gap between mobile apps and smart watches.

Today, as the founder of WeStrive, I have to setup relationships with each smart watch in order to get them on my app. It's an exhausting process and now, it's not necessary. Thanks to Kyriakos and his team, Terra is an API we can add into WeStrive that will allow any of ours users to connect their app to 15+ wearables. It's absolutely genius.

Throughout the podcast, we cover why Kyriakos decided to pursue this idea, his background in the Greek Special Forces, and where his love for fitness came from.


Check out tryterra.co to learn more.

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Episode Transcript

Cory McKane: 1:11

Boom. Alright, so where are you calling in from right now? what's the what's the background right there?Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 1:17

Currently, I'm at the office in London.

Cory McKane: 1:20

Oh, you're in London. Nice. Okay. Nice office area. Where are you? Where are you originally from?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 1:29

I'm great. I'm actually from Cyprus. Small island in the Mediterranean.

Cory McKane: 1:34

Very cool. Okay. I actually don't think I know anyone from Greece. I guess you're my first Greece friend. So there we go.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 1:41

All around. How come?

Cory McKane: 1:44

Yeah, yeah, I don't know. I don't know.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 1:47

Where are you currently?

Cory McKane: 1:49

Well, I'm from Austin, Texas. But I'm currently at the lake in Washington state, like northwest part of the country. Like Lake cabins and my grandparents' home. So. But what's what are you guys doing in London?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 2:03

So we are building that team here. In London, we're going to do another office in San Francisco. Okay. But I think the engineering talent in general in London is a pretty good one. So Imperial College, and get some great graduates out. And then King's College as well. So there are some some good universe around, you have some strong talent around. And also pretty diverse. Is that you have you can have a nice life here as well. But it's I would say it's pretty similar to the way that New York is. So building a team hear everything in person.

Cory McKane: 2:45

So yeah, very cool. Yeah, never. I've never been to Europe or anything like that. So it's, it's on my to do list, but London's definitely like on the top top of my list there. So very cool. I will you know, enough about where we're at. So tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you guys were building with Terra.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 3:07

Um, it was about it was about 10 years ago, I was part of the Spirit forces. And for

Cory McKane: 3:15

about that's so cool. So, yeah, very cool.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 3:19

It's, you know, once you're in this period forces, what really happens is that you have to perform the best at the absolute worst conditions. So that's, that's not really easy. And when you when you serve in Cyprus, there is not much ado education around fitness around three shown around overall health. So you have to really figure it out yourself. Now, because I had to perform, it was like, Well, how do I do that? How do I learn? What kind of treatment Do I need to follow? How can I measure and all that stuff? It was back in the day I started using that. That's first polar HRM. I don't know if you remember the heartbeat motors from polar the,

Cory McKane: 4:03

with the one that goes underneath your chest? those nice, yeah,

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 4:07

I started using that it was like, wow, I can actually measure my heart rate. It was so fascinating data. For me, we're doing long marches like 60 kilometres with a lot of load. And I could actually see that I was like, expenditure of 6000 calories or so. It was like very thick, because it was imagined, like half of the time the battery would end and all that stuff. And it was it was really nice information, looking at your heart rate, and then being able to analyze and all that. So that really got me hooked into into health in general. So I was using wearables, I started buying the new polar watches, and the Garmin watches after that, and the Fitbit devices and all of that. And I was always the data I was using. And then I was doing more than three shown. In order to be able to run you have to be able to live there, all that stuff. So I was learning more about biochemistry, more about nutrition. And I was a geek at that time. So the whole equation would mean to the space. When I went to study engineering, and did some work with Tesla, and you got you have so much more of those wearables coming to the industry. Right? So you you will come in becoming better Apple becoming much better. Everybody's starting to get their wearables out. But it was really the same problem all the time. Yes, your data are generated are those devices, but it's just so difficult to get the data and do something. So for example, Why can I not get my heart rate data from a Garmin watch and give it to Spotify to listen to a much further song when I When I'm training right, or why time will take my stress levels and get them to Netflix, to give me with recommendations of what they like, that was really them. I went one day with with a good friend of mine, Ralph. And when we were actually studying together on NPR about five years ago, and when discussing about that, we came up with the idea, well, why don't we just build an API that makes it super easy for any user, any developer to access that information and build something with it? And that's how terrorists started. It really started by that needs. And by that conversation,

Cory McKane: 6:56

and so let's break down exactly what what terror does. So you guys essentially take all of the smartwatches and put them into, I'll try to, like our audience on here is mostly people that work out and not like tech. So I want to make sure that they understand what what what you guys do. So you guys take like, apple, watch Fitbit, Garmin, all that stuff and kind of put it into one central spot. So then apps, like we strive, can just use your code, and then access all of them versus like me having to go to Apple Watch. And then Garmin, and then Fitbit, like you guys are kinda like the central core. Am I saying that? right?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 7:32

Exactly. So we make it very easy for any developer like you guys, or the Strava has in there, all those health apps to be able to start speaking with all of those wearables, because today, just so difficult to speak to those wearables. And we just make it so easy. So from a user's perspective, thing about you being an user and being able to connect your Fitbit device to Spotify, or being able as a user to connect your government, we will device with Netflix. So these apps being much more capable in creating much better recommendations for you.

Cory McKane: 8:16

Now, and I'm so excited to put you guys on our platforms right now. We just partnered with Apple Health and Google Health. And we have so many users that are just like, hey, how do I connect my whoop? Or how do I connect my Apple Watch. And so it's like, being able to not have to personally go to all those companies and just plug you guys into our apps gonna be awesome. And I have you guys on our roadmap, we're getting really close, but it's definitely gonna happen. What what stage of the company are you guys currently at?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 8:43

Yeah, we went, we did a number of things very, very fast. So we came up with an idea go in about 5000 users or so then we got into Y Combinator. So Y Combinator really helped us become into having much more clarity, getting much better traction focused on the important things. And then speaking with the right investors having the right guidance constantly, so we got into Y Combinator. How fantastic three months, is totally life changing being in yc. And then we raised a great funding round with some of the best investors in the world. So we have jacobellis joining Samsung next, next ventures, and many investors like Tom blomfield, from founder of gocardless, and monzo. Many other angels that are very helpful in the journey. So we raised around as well then built their fourth version of our product right now and rewarding something like 200,000 users today, you have about 2 million end users in the pipeline. So we build a great team here in London, and it's all about building faster shipping faster. So that's, that's where we are today.

Cory McKane: 10:05

Okay, awesome. Yeah, I didn't know you guys are that big. That's incredible, man. What, at what point? Are you guys gonna go live on like the app stores? Or is that like, in the next year, next couple of months? Like, what's your timeline for that?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 10:18

So we are not going to be a live on App Store or anything like this, we are gonna be this API model, meaning that is the middle layer between us and up with the data, right? So if you are in the app store, and you're using us, we're already there. So we don't really need to be on the App Store is more about you getting access to us. So you're like,

Cory McKane: 10:43

and I didn't, I didn't mean to ask it like that. But at least I knew that you're not an app. So I didn't mean to say that out loud. I was meant like, is it is that? So the API is currently live. And people do have you inside of their apps that are like live on the app store right now? Yep. Okay, awesome. Okay. And then my next question was about how you actually get a hold of these companies. So like, are you contacting Fitbit, and whoop, and all these companies independently and saying, like, hey, let's create a part Or like, do they already have codes available that you can just plug into your software? Like, what do you how do you guys do and all that?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 11:18

Yep, part of part of you being an app today is integrates to access information, it's really organic, or any of these companies is first of all, creating a partnership, it might be an open API or what have you. But at the same time, if you have more than 200 users or so you would need to create a partnership to upper limits, it limits it all up. So we take that outside of the equation, so we go to these companies, we create a partnership. And based on those partnerships, we are able to provide you,

Cory McKane: 11:54

Alex, okay. Very cool. Yes, I was gonna say I was like, I don't know how I would personally do that. I mean, I was just talking with Fitbit the other day, so I'm not sure if you have to, like, maintain all those relationships or how that works. So I was curious. And what why did you want to get in the fitness industry in the first place? Was it because of your special forces background? Like, are you still like into sports? And that kind of stuff? Like what like, what is your I guess? What is your fitness day to day look like?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 12:19

Yeah, I mean, bagging the before joining Special Forces I was doing, I was a strength lifter, then after leaving the Special Forces industry and for the pretty much becoming more often. Then, after becoming a role model Hunter, I was a weightlifter until today, and I'm doing a lot of cycling. So I'm super athletic, in a way. So my hobby, and my like, Second Life is sports. So it was pretty natural for me being into this space. Okay, awesome.

Cory McKane: 12:53

Yeah, I mean, I'm definitely not at that level. But I personally just love fitness. So I definitely I'm not special forces caliber. But you know, I think I know my way around the weight room. So what's your guy's business model? Like? How do you guys actually make money from the product? Or is that going to be coming later in your company?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 13:11

Yeah, the way we charge these based on? Who do we provide binary, right? So if you think about it, we provide value to the apps. And we enable all those apps to access that information. Here's where we are charging based on the API calls or based on the subscription on the users that you have. So we are charging our business model is that we're charging the apps for the usage.

Cory McKane: 13:40

Okay, gotcha. Gotcha. Very cool. And then, when it comes to like, these companies again, how do you guys decide like, who goes to your list? Let me Because obviously, Apple is gonna be there, Garmin, etc. But are there like a lot of smaller watches that are just popping up all over the world that you guys are looking into? Or like, Is there really not that many, like, I just, I don't have a wearable myself, so I don't know much about it. But I know like, it's obviously a booming industry

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 14:05

fight. So I guess there are two answers to that, the way I see these that the importance of real time data is going to totally change the way we do things today. And if you think about it, today, you go to a doctor, you do a blood analysis, or you do any type of analysis, and you then get static information, meaning, let's just say you did the blood analysis, you get your glucose on a static level. Whereas if you use any sensor today, for example, if we celebrate, and so you're going to be looking at your glucose real time. So if you actually think about the market, today, you have an Omega value versus customer distribution care, you are going to deduce that, yes, companies like Apple and Garmin have a lot of users. However, there is a very long tail distribution, when it comes to value because you have two smaller sensors that are measuring very important data. So you have those glucose, real time monitors, you have the blood pressure, real time monitors, you have their sweat analytics, monitors. So you have more and more of those real time devices coming into the market. So the real question for us is, how can we support all of it? So yes, we are getting the more popular ones at the very beginning. But then it's all about what would the app need, the app would need a similar app with yours, right? So you probably need the more amount of information you get, the better it is for you. So we want to be getting all that information and being able to support all of those real time trackers be the assessor be the wearable and even be being an app on your phone. So we are we are building based on

Cory McKane: 16:02

and then where do you see the industry going? Because like it's gonna get to the point where I have like one around my neck and one of my arm and like my back has one like or do you think they'll eventually just have like one That just kind of does it all. Like why, why? Why so many different options kind of thing.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 16:18

I think this is this, this is not going to matter, I think you're going to have a device, no matter the form, that after five years, it's going to be aggregating most of information. Such as your blood pressure, your heart rate variability, the food, the UAE the day and all that. And it's going to be able to predict, it's going to tell you look, you ended this way, today, you're going to have this disease in the future, or you trained this way to the you're going to add so much muscle in so much time. So it's all about how these devices are going to predict, rather than the form of the device. And actually, that's what we are building after for devices and software being able to predict what's going to happen in the future.

Cory McKane: 17:15

I like that because you guys can kind of like can't conjugate you can congregate congregate all the data and kind of take each tool and then make your own assumptions that way. That's pretty cool. And do you have any interest in making your own wearable at any point? Or is that just like, totally off the rails for you guys?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 17:36

The real interest we have is like how can we become this type of space? Right? How can I make it as easy as possible for any developer to be using us? Like, how can we get to the point that it takes you five minutes to use us? And then it's just super easy for any of your customers to be using us? And how can we do that on a real time basis? meaning how can we enable any health any consumer tech out there we getting real time information through our API's in the easiest way possible. So it's not really hardware it's much more about how can we be that bridge? Faster ease of usage that makes it feasible for everybody to get there?

Cory McKane: 18:19

Okay, gotcha. Because Yeah, I know actually like making hardware is just such another like such another like beast to have to tackle so being able to stick to the software side and kind of deal with all that data is a much much much smarter and faster play. And what I don't know if we should promote a certain watch or not, but do you which which of these watches Do you specifically use yourself right now? Personally, I'm using a garment I'm just wearing it now. Okay, okay, is there a way so what as as the watch expert Why do you use a Garmin versus all the other ones

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 18:55

this is going to be the worst dances is mostly based on aesthetics

Cory McKane: 19:03

Wow, this looks better.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 19:06

But honestly, I think it's based on what I do right? I it's I'm doing a lot of cycling I'm doing a lot of weightlifting. I kind of find Garmin devices more accurate in these things. But at the same time I'm expecting someone to come and build a real wearable in the in a weightlifting. Environmental say because in the reality of things you have a lot of things about cyclists about runners based on GPS and all that. But in the gym, you don't really have much. Yeah, so you cannot really measure the weight someone lifted. Or something like that, which would be super super helpful

Cory McKane: 19:52

to me Yeah, and for me, I I've never really used a Fitbit or Apple watch but i i bought like a really crappy Fitbit, like, like, spin off from Amazon. And it was so bad. And then I tried using an actual Fitbit for my weightlifting. And I was trying to I was trying to count calories. And I just didn't feel like it was that accurate for weightlifting. So I'm in the same boat, I would love to have some sort of wash that just like was an all encompassing tool, but I feel like it's gonna be hard to make. But when they do figure that out, I'm going to be definitely be one of the first person to use it.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 20:25

The metrics we're using today. It's, it's mostly you're measuring their heart, cardiac output, right? So it's based on heart. So when you're measuring with an optical HR, which most of those wearables are equipped, they don't really do much them. How do you say that your heart is really going very fast. It increases in amplitude. So you go very high output of your heart at like two or three seconds. And then those devices are not really catered to be that fast in frequency from an optical heart. It's much better to use it An actual chest up to be measuring because electric, electrical, but as far as today, measuring where the heart rate from a wearable is not so accurate for those two or three seconds, but you do a very heavy lift. It's pretty good when you do a long, or a marathon, for example, or a long run, because you don't have those big fluctuations.

Cory McKane: 21:38

Now that makes sense. I mean, having it like right next to your heart versus like over here on my wrist, you know, it's a little bit it's a little different. And back to your platform. So how would you compare the experience if I were to just add Fitbit to we strive versus if I were to add Fitbit through Tara? On we strive. So like, what would it what are this, like, for Fitbit lesson that we just connected? So then it will take Tara, if I log into the we strive app, we've added terror to the platform, how long does it take for the user to just go into the terror segment and then add a tidbit from there.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 22:15

Right. So if if you come and work with us today, it's probably going to take you, we're going to do one call how engineer on the call, do the whole integration for you. So pretty much from your time is going to take 10 minutes from our side is going to take 30 minutes. And you're going to be already live with Fitbit or whatever provider you want. And we also provide you with a widget, which you can actually place as a as a front inside of Europe and make it like you don't even need to write the code for the front end on how to forfeit it to appear. There. So having said that, if you actually go and create the integration with Fitbit by yourself, you would first need to create a partnership. So it's going to take a few days. Once you establish a partnership, you would need to figure out how they're doing mentation works, spending some time there, then you need to map and normalize all the data, and then do the actual connection and then write your front end as well. So it's going to take you a week or two weeks or so. And then we are bound by the weeds it really there. There's some integrations because there are just integrations that don't exist, and we go and make them. So if you start speaking with us, we can speak start speaking immediately with 15 integrations. Whereas if you do that one by one, it's going to be like, months and months.

Cory McKane: 23:42

No, exactly. Like we have so many trainers all over the world. And so they have clients that are even more all over the world. So being able to just plug you guys in and not have to. Because we always have someone like oh, well, why don't you have this watch, it's just like, so being able to just do that would be so much, so much easier.

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 23:58

And right. It's as much as you want to be International, right? So we have customers, for example, in San Francisco, and in India, whereas in San Francisco, it's very trendy to use ora or Oop. But in India, it's much more trendy to use Xiaomi devices so we already know that so right so it's up to if you speak to us you speak to everyone if you if you go and believe visually you are going to be clear that in a specific location.

Cory McKane: 24:26

And with that being said, are you guys looking at watches that are trending in like you literally what you just said are you guys adding watches to tear up based on geographical trends? Are you guys going okay? what's popular in the us right now? Like what like what areas are you guys targeting?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 24:43

we're much more what to my approach in everything we do. It's all about first principles meaning that first principles in that scenario is what the customers want. So whenever we get a customer we ask which integrations which like they tell us we will build them and and we give access to them so at the end of the day, it's much more focused on the customer focus on the developers and them telling us what they want to have so we don't really do it top the bottom or top down way which which would be we go to certain locations we see whatever the democratic demographics what are the people what are people using, we just ask the customers

Cory McKane: 25:29

That's awesome. I mean, I try and do the same thing we it can be hard to to get a good answer out of them but like for you guys I feel like it's pretty simple you're just like well watch you want to like here's what I use you go cool and you add it so that's

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 25:40

watches by the way it sensors as well. So if you want in San Francisco there's so many startups using freestyle liquid today which is live using what sorry, what would you say it's called freestyle Uber which is the freestyle library or the yeah yeah. So measuring and glucose levels and then is vana vitals for example otherwise it companies which it really it really depends if it assessor we do sensors, okay,

Cory McKane: 26:10

I didn't even know that very cool. Yeah, I think I'm a little bit out of the wearables. world. So I don't know a lot of the stuff going on. But I mean, I guess I'll just kind of like follow your journey and see what you guys are doing and learn from you guys. What is your What is your team look like? I know you guys just raised a couple million and obviously fresh out of Y Combinator, which, for everyone watching is an incredible accelerator based out of San Francisco. Yeah, I don't know where else it would be. Um, so what does the team currently look like?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 26:38

We're a team of crazy engineers. So So yeah, we are almost in people here in London, everybody in person, pretty young team. I would say one of the most difficult things we've been doing the last few months being my co founder, especially when co founder is it's hiring. It's such a difficult thing to building a great team. And, and our priorities, literally that how can we build the best thing in the world, meaning that we just do so much. Hiring is just, we just screen so many candidates, and we just end up getting very few meaning that we do about 120 interviews a month. And we find one good candidate. So that tells you how picky we are dealing with a but I'm, I'm pretty happy for the team we already established here. So it's all about this the culture. And it's all about the speed of execution. So

Cory McKane: 27:44

that's incredible. Yeah, I'm a little bit behind you guys in the hiring part. And I definitely have not interviewed anywhere close to 120 people and not even close to that for a month. So props to you guys for being so like, just head on and accurate for how you guys do that. So what are the next steps for you guys? Like what? Is there any big watch coming out that you're going to partner with? Is there some like, are you going to be like the NFL next partner? Like what do you guys do next? I

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 28:11

think the most important thing for me is like how do we build the best team in the world. Because the end of the day, it's all about creating real value for the developers, meaning creating great products. And to create a better a great product, we have to be very simple. So it's all about delivered, it's more about is all about that. So how do we hire more people? How can we have the best team in the world to deliver that? So that's, that's the one key. And then a second, it's it's all about execution? Right? So it's how do we build faster? How do we speak to customers more often? And how do we minimize the time that it takes for you to import and use our product? So yeah, it's team and growth.

Cory McKane: 29:05

That's awesome. And I personally can't wait to get you guys on our platform. I think we're gonna wait a little bit until we have some of these big updates out. And then once once we're ready to go back to the b2c market, we're going to plug you guys in right away. So super excited. You're gonna save us so much time and love what you guys are doing in this space? And do you have anything you want to close? Close the podcast with in the any words or wisdom or anything like that? We could just delete that part. But yeah, the spot? Yeah, I would I would have to think about that for a while before answering. But yeah. Alright, so how about this? What was the what was the hardest part about special forces in Greece?

Kyriakos Eleftheriou: 29:48

The hardest part? I guess most of the things you do are super difficult. So it's, it's you really learn that it's never about the body. It's all about the mind. So everything you do, your body just stops. But as long as your mind doesn't you just persevere. So Special Forces are about perseverance is how do you get things done? And how to be resourceful. So

Cory McKane: 30:18

love that. That's a good way to There we go. We found it. There we go. Perfect. Awesome. It was so great having on having you on here for everyone listening. You know, if you're a developer use Tara, if you're using an app that doesn't have tear on it, talk to that app and let them know they need to put it on there. So awesome having you on here, man and looking forward to see what you guys do in the future. Awesome. Thank you so much.