Building a start-up from the ground up might just be one of the most challenging tasks that an entrepreneur can encounter over the course of their career. There’s plenty of risk and so many factors to consider, so it’s best to go into the process understanding the lived experiences of others as much as possible. Ethan Agarwal is the Founder and CEO of Aaptiv, a leading provider of digital health and wellness content. Ethan shares his experience of building Aaptiv with Steve Farber. Get yourself ready to set up your start-up!
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Starting Up From The Ground Up With Ethan Agarwal Of Aaptiv
Number eight. We’re still babies around here and I have to say I am enjoying this process, if process is the right word. Maybe it’s process, depends on where you live. Anyway, I hope you’ve been enjoying this as well. My guest is Ethan Agarwal, who’s the Founder and CEO of a company called Aaptiv. Aaptiv is a premium digital health and wellness content app. They’re an audio fitness app and one of the most successful out there. They were launched in 2016. They’ve raised over $50 million so far in venture funding and have over 200,000 paying subscribers. Ponder for a moment how great an accomplishment that is. How many apps get launched every minute it seems and how lucky some of them is to get even a couple of hundred subscribers.
They’re over 200,000. I enjoyed my conversation with him because I was curious. Here he’s got this innovative new company and I was wondering if there were some parallel in the way that he built this company and the way that he built the culture of this company. If indeed he paid any attention at all to the culture of the company while he was launching this app, if there was any parallel to what they do and to this idea that love is good business. Surprise, the parallels are strong. He’s a perceptive guy and I know you’re going to enjoy reading what he has to say as to how he built the company and what he had to pay attention to in terms of the dynamics of the culture that he was building.
I’ll give you a little foreshadowing. He said to take care of the team and everything else will take care of itself. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the perspective he comes from. He has a storied background. He came out of McKinsey, he was educated at Johns Hopkins, got his MBA at Wharton. He was raised in an entrepreneurial family. You’ll hear all about his dad and the influence that his entrepreneur father had on him growing up and as a young business guy. It was a terrific conversation. I know you’re going to enjoy it. Here he is, Ethan Agarwal, Founder of Aaptiv. Enjoy.
Aaptiv is a digital content company we create health and wellness content. What that looks like is we have trainers who build workout classes for 22 different categories of workouts. Everything from running to strength training, meditation, elliptical cycling, boxing, largely any workout you can think of. We have content that will guide you through what that workout should look like. There are a couple of distinguishing factors in the way that we approach it. Number one is all of our content is audio-only. We don’t do any video. I can tell you my background later, but when I started the company, I was looking for a solution for myself. I’m a runner and I run outdoors. There was a lot of digital content in the health and wellness space.
All of it was video-based. The problem with video is as a runner. I can’t run down the street staring at my phone or staring at an iPad. That doesn’t make any sense. Running happens to be the most popular workout in the country. It’s not enclosed. There are 40 million Americans who run. Any video-based product is precluding themselves from that market. We realized that audio was a much better delivery mechanism for the content. It’s much more flexible and effective for almost every workout that you can imagine. That’s our first distinction. The second one is that we focused because much more on the life cycle of the member. We’re trying to build a product that is with you for your entire life.
The way that we do that is through the breadth of the content. I told you that we have 22 categories, but more importantly than that, we have programs that help you achieve specific goals. When I looked at the market and saw there are often these boutique fitness classes that are quite high-end and expensive, there are different personal training solutions. There’s the hardware you can buy at home. Those tend to be more a la carte offerings. It’s like you take a class and then what? You take another class, but the studio doesn’t know anything about you, your journey, your goals, you keep taking the same classes over and over again. We focus much on programs. For example, we have a ten-month, three-trimester maternity program. Each week of the 40 weeks we say, “Here’s what you can do. You should hypothetically strength training on this day, yoga the next day, pelvic exercises the next day, deep breathing throughout the first week.” As the woman progressing through her pregnancy, what she can do in week 38 is different. We build a program that helps her.
Our maternity program is a four-trimester program because we then have an after delivery. What do you do for the first trimester? It ends up being about a fifteen-month long program that guides you through all the different things you can do as far as cardio, there’s strength or stretching. It’s a comprehensive surround sound experience. It’s answering the question of what do I do next as opposed to taking a class and then forgetting about the person. That’s our second differentiator. The third biggest differentiator and this is the cherry on top, is the price point. One of the things that I found frustrating or I was upset about is when I think about the innovation that’s happened in the health and wellness category over the last few years.There was a lot of digital content in the health and wellness space, but all of it was video-based. Click To Tweet
It’s lived at the top of the market. It’s $40 group fitness classes or $150 an hour for a trainer or $2,000 for a spin bike. Most people in the country or the world can’t afford anything close to that. You typically have to live in a big city to enjoy these things. That’s not okay. If you think of the various different things that we all consume of people at different income levels and all that, it’s generally okay. Some people like fancy clothes, some people don’t care. Some people like nice meals, some people don’t care. When it comes to health, it’s not right that someone who has more money or lives in a bigger city has better access to guidance, training, information about their health and their fitness than someone who may not make as much money or live in a smaller city.
That doesn’t feel right to me. I wanted to create a product that would help people across income levels, across demographic levels. We only charge $99 a year for unlimited on-demand access to our entire content library. That number is important because it’s within 1% of the disposable income of 90% of Americans. It is accessible to everyone. Like I’m saying, the price is the cherry on top. The first two things, which is the better delivery mechanism and the breadth of the content and the program experience, that’s what makes it a great product. Regardless of the price and then the price ends up being nice to have, but it allows us to reach a much broader audience.
It’s delivered in the form an app, I’m assuming?
That’s right. We have an iOS app for iPhones. We have an Android app and we have an Apple Watch app.
It’s headphones. You’re listening to your phone and a pair of headphones.
We have outdoor running classes, so you listen to our trainers who will guide you through a run. They’ll tell you interval training. For example, we’re going to jog for 30 seconds, then we’re going to sprint for a minute and then we’re going to do a steady pace for 2 minutes. They’ll time it and they’ll guide you through it. They’ll also provide motivation to keep you energized and keep you going through the harder parts of the run. The last and important part of it is the music. We have direct licensing deals with Sony Music and Warner, 2 of the 3 big major labels, to have access to all of their content. We do a lot of work and our trainers do a lot of work in matching the pace of the workout with the pace of the music. You’re enjoying yourself when you’re working out instead of seeing it as a burden.
How old is the company now?
I launched it in January of 2016. We’re based in New York City. We have 100 people here in the office. We’re on the 49th floor of the World Trade Center. In 2016, we had about 2,000 paying subs. When we started in 2017, we had 61,000. At the beginning of 2018, we had 156,000, and by the end of 2019, we had a little over 250,000 paying members. We’ve had good growth in the time.
Take me back a little bit to the beginning. Tell me a little bit about your background and what led you up this to this idea, and then tell me a little bit about the launch back in those launch days.
I grew up in the Bay Area and my dad is an entrepreneur. He started a software company in ’94. He took it public on NASDAQ in ‘01 and then sold it in 2003. Since then, he has started two other companies. He’s entrepreneurial and so that spirit is in me. I always knew I wanted to start a company. What I chose to do was to spend the first decade or so of my career understanding the way that businesses are built and run before starting my own. Because growing up in the Bay Area, they have an idea for maybe a product and maybe they raised some money and hired a couple of people, but they don’t necessarily know how to turn that into a company if you’re into a business, how to monetize it. I didn’t want to fall victim to that.
I started my career in finance. I wanted to invest in banking out of undergrad. I went to Johns Hopkins for my undergrad. I did a double in Economics, Political Science, a Minor in Business. I graduated a year early, went to investment banking for a couple of years. I went to Wharton to get my MBA. I came out of Wharton and went to hedge fund for some time. I went to McKinsey for three years before starting the company. The way that about it is I spent roughly five years on the quantitative valuation P&L side of it, between investment banking and the hedge fund. I spent about five years on the more qualitative strategic team-building side of it between McKinsey and Wharton. You combine those two parts of it and then started this company at the beginning of 2016.
Where did the idea come from for the initial product?
In grad school, I put on a lot of weight. I put on 40 pounds and wanted to lose it. As a consultant, I’m on the road four days a week. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but trying to hire a trainer in a city or traveling to is challenging. It’s challenging if it’s tier 1 city, if it’s a tier 2 or tier 3 city, forget about it. That was frustrating. I thought even when I’m in New York, if I want training, I can go to Barry’s Bootcamp or I can hire a trainer and there’s a bunch of options. All of them came with what I would consider logistical restrictions in the sense that you can get ahead of time, classes sell out, you’re penalized for not showing up. There’s all this drama associated with it. I didn’t want to have to deal with it.
Their workouts are great. It’s that you have to go to a specific place, you have to book a class, etc. I wanted to remove that drama, which is the second challenge. I realized that the opportunity was much bigger than that because I was fortunate enough where A, I live in New York and B, I can afford all these options. That’s not true for most people in the world. Most people can’t spend that much money to work out. Most people don’t live in a major city like Manhattan with all these options. If you live in a small town somewhere, it doesn’t matter how much money you make because the best trainers probably don’t live there.Workouts are great, but going to specific places and booking classes can be a logistical challenge. Click To Tweet
The best trainers live in the largest cities. The flip side is you can live in LA, San Francisco, New York. If you do not make a lot of money, it doesn’t matter if there’s a bunch of fancy studios on your block because you can’t afford to go. Because of financial or geographic limitations, what had happened is that the perception of training had become such that it was like this fancy elite, pro athletes are uber-wealthy celebrities, it’s just for them. When it comes to people’s health, that doesn’t feel right to me. It shouldn’t be based on how rich you are or where you live. I realized that there was an opportunity there to bring great training and content and guidance to a much larger audience.
What I’m hearing you say, because you’ve said it a couple of times now in a couple of different ways, but there are two things that are happening simultaneously. One is the recognition of this market niche, the demand for training, but it’d be expensive. That’s the analytical analysis of the market. There’s that sentiment that says it’s not right if you have to be wealthy.
It’s a rare occasion when you can find something where both those things are true. The funny thing is that it’s not a niche. In America, 56 million people have a gym membership. Forty million people run outside. These are massive populations that are highly unserved because the average gym-goer is spending $20 a month. They may not be going, but the point is that certainly, we operate in a world of $150 a month gym memberships and $100 yoga pants and this and that. We forget that there’s a much larger market. If people that want to work out, at least half of them are going to the gym, but their average on spending $20 a month, then they go. That market was underserved because no one was creating a product of high caliber, but also of a price point that was accessible. To your point, the analytical components that to me is there’s a market opportunity. The reason that I got excited about it is because of the second point, which is that it was like a moral opportunity.
I don’t want to psychoanalyze you or anything, but where did that come from for you?
The desire for more opportunity.
There’s something about the personal radar that recognizes that moral deficiency.
As a kid, I traveled a lot. I’m Indian and both my parents are Indian. My dad, before starting the company, was a professor at McGill and we used to travel all the time. If you go around the world in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, which is when I was a kid, you see all kinds of things. You see the poverty that you don’t run into on a daily basis in the US and you develop empathy that sticks with you throughout your adulthood. Even when I started making some money in my first couple of jobs like investment banking, it’s not a lot of money, but it’s more money than a 21-year-old should make.
I would donate 10% of my salary to charity every year because it felt like it’s more than I need. Someone else can do more with this than I can. When I saw an opportunity around health and wellness, I lost those 35, 40 pounds that I gained. I lived in a nice building in Chelsea and I went to this fancy gym and all this stuff. I said, “It’s not right that only because I had these resources that I’m able to do this.” Getting healthy and losing weight or whatever you want to do by getting healthy is not something that’s for a specific demographic. That didn’t register with me. You combine it with the analytical part of it and it felt like a no brainer, honestly.
I want to shift the focus a little bit. Tell me about the company, your team and the people. What if, any desire did you have when you started the company for the culture that you wanted to build?
I’m going to bring my dad up one more time because when I started the company, I asked for his advice and he continues to give it to me. The most important thing he said to me was, “Take care of your team. Everything else will sort itself out.” He preaches that every day. That’s why he’s been successful in the companies that he’s built. People love to work with him again in his new ventures because that’s a philosophy that he’s followed from day one.
What’s your dad’s name?
His name is Vinod Agarwal. First of all, that was the anchor for everything that I do here, which is to take care of the team. Everything else will sort itself out. That’s the most important. Second is the way that I like to think of my role here in a variety. There’s a couple of ways to think about it, but number one is I have always been the lowest paid person on my exec team by far. I either take no salary or I take a nominal salary. A lot of the people at the company, but certainly everyone on the exec team and that’s been the case since the company started and that will continue to be the case, that I will always take less. That’s important to me because I’m here and I’m asking everyone, to a certain degree, to invest in me, invest in themselves, believe in the mission. It’s not right for me to siphon off capital from this company while we’re trying to build it. You know what startups are like. There are lots of risks and lots of things that you have to figure out. I try to reflect that by not compensating myself the most.
The next thing we’ll say is as a result of my belief in the team and the importance of leaning on the team, the people that I hire around me, I also need them to believe that because they are going to be managing all the people that I don’t interact with on a day-to-day basis. It can’t be my level and then the folks below me. That has to permeate throughout the entire company. My CTO and VP product is a guy named Chris Fischer. This is my first startup. This is his seventh startup. We average four startups between the two of us, but he’s an incredible technologist and incredible product guy, but he’s a phenomenal people person. His team respects the hell out of him, as they should because he’s caring, he spends much time with them and he nurtures them and their careers and he develops them. That was important to me when I was recruiting for that role was I need someone with technical chops, etc. I need someone who’s going to look out for their team the way that I want to look out for my team. Now I built out my entire leadership team right out of my CTO, my CFO. We hired a COO. Even her, Tracy Kim, she’s Stanford undergrad, HBS, MBA. She spent a couple of years in McKinsey. She’s been an operator at a variety of different companies.
She came here as a COO. If you ask anyone about her, they’ll say she’s a great manager and a great leader and not even talk about her professional background, which is incredible. That’s the third thing that I look for people like that to hire their teams because that’s the type of people that I want to work with. The last thing I’ll say on this point is what our product does. We’ve talked about this, but our focus every day is on the members is on the people that are using the product. We have crazy stories of how our members have used the product to change their lives. I was in a cab going to a meeting and this woman on my team sent me a video of a member of ours who’s in the Army. She’s stationed in South Korea. She took a video on her phone in her Humvee and sent it to us. It’s a 3-minute video. She had a baby. She had a C-section and had gained some weight and couldn’t work out for a while because the C-section and she used Aaptiv to get back into shape so that she could rejoin the Army because there it requires you to be in a certain physical shape.The people that you hire for your team should also believe in the same principles about teamwork that you do. Click To Tweet
There’s another guy. I was looking at a video. He was 400 pounds. He lost 200 pounds. He’s now at 200 pounds. The cool part of the story is not even that. It’s that he says losing the 200 pounds put him in a completely different mental place. His business started doing better because he was willing to take more risks and he had more confidence and he launched a new territory. That’s the fun part. You look great because you lost 200 pounds. It’s the incremental benefit. That focus on the member and the stories and the value we provide for them, that’s what I focus on. Those are kinds of people that are want to work with. I always tell people who come to work here. The members are the first people that we have to look out for. We have a lot of parties. We have investors. We have team members, we have our families, we have your boss, you have all this and that, but we have to look after the members and people that care about the mission of the company, that’s paramount for everyone who’s going to work here.
This is great because the construct of the book and the construct of all of my work comes down to do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. If you look at those three things, you address each one. Doing what you love is the personal part of it. Do you know that old saying do what you love and the money will fall on your head thing? It’s nice, but it’s not entirely true. If that’s all, there were to it and it isn’t that way. You want to do what you love, which starts with your motivation, which is what you talked about, seeing that needs, seeing that moral gap in the service of people is the context for it. It’s not about doing what you love. You want to use that to serve people, which are what you’re doing not only with the technology and the product and the offering and all of that, serving your members.
It’s also the culture that you’re creating in, as you said, people take taking care of your team, but also hiring the executive leadership coaching that also want to take care of their team. That’s the service bit. The payoff is love what you do. If you were serving your members because you felt that you had this great thing and it was good for them, but they didn’t love it, then you’re not in business anymore. The videos represent the last part of that equation. Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. These are the people that are raising their hands and saying, “I love what you’re doing for me and here’s why. It’s the impact that it’s having on my life.” It’s a beautiful illustration of it. It sounds like because of what you learned from your dad, you went into building your company with the conscious intent of creating a culture of caring.
I haven’t articulated it like that before, but that’s fair.
You said, “What I learned from my dad is the first thing is you got to take care of your team.” I’m going to build a team where people know that I’m going to take care of them. One of the ways I’m going to show that is by not taking a salary or getting paid less than them. That’s a huge symbolic gesture. There are a couple of points here at the same time. Entrepreneurs, I would say, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I don’t think so. Most entrepreneurs don’t think about that at all. They get excited about their product. They get excited about the opportunity. They go out and they find the talent that can help them execute on that. They’re not thinking about what place I want to create here. What dynamics do I want among the team? Otherwise known as culture. Every place has a culture. By virtue of stick a couple of people together, there’s a culture. Culture by design and culture on purpose and culture with intent, I want you to know how great and unusual it is that you started your company with that in mind. Terms or not, that’s what I’m hearing.
I appreciate that. I’ll give you another example. Early on, we were like 4 or 5 people and I desperately needed a product manager to help with our mobile product. We were a tiny company. No one had heard of us. Hiring product managers for mobile in New York City is extremely challenging. It’s extremely challenging for any company, let alone a small no-name company from a first-time founder, etc. I got my hands on a guy who was incredible. I don’t want to tell you his name, but incredible background. He had sold a company before. He was working at a large company now that you and I both know and I somehow convinced him to come to join us. Right before we sign off for letters, I haven’t come in and met the other three people on my team because they were all going to be working closely together. One of the three people said to me after he left that she didn’t like his personality.
I remember the line she said. She said that she would be less excited to come into work every day knowing that he was there. Now it’s easier because I have 100 people and we’ve done all this. At the time, it was tough because to be honest with you, I needed that guy more than the role at least that that other individual was providing. She made a commitment to me and I made a commitment to her and her being less excited to come into work, that’s everything. As soon as you say that to me, that that’s it. I rejected the guy and it was a tough decision at the time because I desperately needed that person. I put all this work into getting him, negotiating his salary, begging him to join my company. I said to him like, “Sorry, man.” To be fair, that woman stayed with us for 2.5 years because she understood. she saw the company and culture that we wanted to build.
This is how I would characterize that based on what you’ve told me already. What you said is when you’re looking to bring somebody onto the team, particularly the executive team, and I assume this is true for anything in the company. You’re looking for that technical business expertise and you’re looking for the people side of the equation. Is that a fair characterization?
To be totally fair, it’s on a scale. It depends on the more senior you are, the more I care about the people side of it, the more IC level that you are. I still need you to be a good and genuine person, but I may be hiring you for a specific skillset that you have and you have no one under you and you’re in an individual contributor role. It’s a little bit more towards the skillset side.
In the senior-level team then, you look for the expertise and the people side of the equation. You told me about this other guy, the people side of the equation trumps the technical side.
In the long run, yes. I probably struggled with that a couple of times. Measuring the people side versus the technical side is not like simple math. It’s not this person’s 40/60, that person’s 30/70. In your mind, you don’t even know honestly what that balance is. I would argue if you were to come in and interview the 100 people on my team, you would get 90% of them to say that we build out the team that’s more on the people side than on the technical side. I will say two things. Number one is we got chosen as 1 of the top 100 best places to work in New York City. That list is 100 companies. There are large companies on that list. There are small companies on that list. The cool thing I like about that is it’s done based on an employee survey. Our employees filled it out, as did the employees of all the other companies. The feedback was good because we got chosen as 1 of the top 100. That’s exciting. The second thing I’ll say is there’s a misperception. Not that you have this, but sometimes I talk to people and there’s a misperception that culture means if you focused on culture and you focus on people, it means that you’re soft. That may be true in certain cases, but in our case, that could not be further from the truth.
We have a high performance-driven culture. I demand a lot from my team. If you don’t cut it here, you’re not going to cut it here. We don’t have a lot of patience for people who don’t perform well. To your point, that is the culture. When people come here, they know that they’re expected to work their butt off to perform well. I hate letting people go. It is the worst thing that I have to do in this job. The way that I always justify it to myself in my head is there’s 99 other people plus their families who are relying upon the performance of this business. If 1 person or 2 people are hindering the performance of the business, it hurts me to hurt those people, but otherwise I’m not being fair to the other 99 people and their families who are relying on me and the decisions we make. That mindset of it being a performance-driven culture is ingrained in everyone’s head. They expect that for me, as they should, and I expect that from them. I bring this up because it’s important to draw a distinction between people who think that culture means that you’re wishy-washy and soft and all that and you can’t create a high-performing company.
People who think that culture is wishy-washy and soft are describing a culture that’s wishy-washy and soft. It has nothing inherently to do with culture. If you can imagine to build on that for a second and imagine it from going in and going out to the business world with a point of view that love is damn good business. That’s the stereotype. It’s the first place people go. Many people go love equals soft. What you’re saying is what you should do is create an environment, where everybody’s happy all the time and nobody argues. People walk around with big goofy grins on their faces. Every often you stop the action and have a group hug in the hallway and it’s all about making people happy all the time. That’s not love. I don’t know what that is, but it’s nauseating to me. If it’s an environment that’s based on love, which another way of saying might be mutual care and concern and commitment to each other’s hopes, needs, dreams, aspirations, those of our clients and all that, the standards are higher, not lower. Because if I love this place and I love our members and I love what we’re trying to do here, I’m not going to tolerate substandard performance, behavior, attitude and all that.
The other thing I’d say on this you alluded to a little bit earlier is in order to provide this product to millions of people around the world. We have to build a sustainable business model. We’re not making money because we’re money hungry capitalists and whatever. We’re also not capable of building a great product if we don’t care about money. If we give it away for free and we have no standards, that wouldn’t work either. In the world where the mission of the company is to create a great product and get in front of as many people as possible and help millions of people with their health, we have to do that with a business mind, with an understanding of the economics. Sometimes that means making tough decisions. It’s not only that they don’t go. You can’t even say that they’re distinct. They completely go hand in hand. This goes back to what I was saying, which is all these people that I know that have started companies and some of those products were great products, but they didn’t know how to build it to a business. Everyone suffers. Even if the product is great, you can’t sustain it because you didn’t have a business model figured out. That stuff, it feeds into itself.
It’s an interesting thing. There are a lot of underlying assumptions that we operate on that we’re not even aware of. I’ll give you an example. I wrote a column on Inc. about this. The phrase work-life balance, think about that phrase. It’s an inherently-flawed phrase, not because of the balance side, but because whenever you say work-life anything, what you’re suggesting is that there’s a difference between work and life. Work is work. Life is life. If work is not life, then what is work? It’s death. There’s an underlying assumption there that says there’s living and then there’s working and it’s patently false. You are alive at work. Work is part of your life. You have to balance things. You have to balance your roles and your time and your relationships and all that, but you’re not balancing work and life. It’s all life. The other assumption is that the idea of making a difference for people, giving value, changing the world, being personally fulfilled and making money are somehow mutually exclusive.
In other words, in order to do one, you have to sacrifice the other. If you’re going to change the world, you can’t make money. If you’re going to make money, you can’t worry about making an impact. That’s BS. This is something that we made up. The ideal is that we’re doing all of those at the same time, which means that I want to make a difference and I want to make money. Not only is there no sin in that, it’s an absolute necessity for all the reasons you said including the sustainability, the viability of the company over time, but also all those people that work for you and their families depend on that. This idea we have to justify it somehow. You said it yourself. It’s not that we’re money hungry capitalism. It’s not about that. It’s about all doing all of it at the same time. When we start to make those choices of I have to sacrifice my morals and ethics to make money.
Thank you for that, Ethan and thank you for reading. I know I went off on a little bit of a rant at the end of that conversation, but I was inspired and I hope you take this away more than anything else. I was inspired by the fact that he paid attention to the culture that he was trying to create right from the beginning. This is a huge mistake that many entrepreneurs, I’m going to even say most entrepreneurs make, are they don’t even think about culture. They think it has got nothing to do with them, that that’s something that you deal with later on down the road. If you ignore the culture you’re trying to create right from the inception of your company, you are ignoring that at your own peril. Because that culture in large part is going to determine the way that you work and if it’s the right culture, it’s going to enable you to be successful.
I know we get all caught up in the great products and the great service that we’re providing and how we’re going to change the world and make kajillion dollars and we should. That’s what inspires us as entrepreneurs if you happen to be an entrepreneur and at the same time, it doesn’t happen on its own. The dynamics that we create between people, if we can create an environment that people love working in, that our clients love doing business with, and that we love involving ourselves with every single day, we’re going to have the best possible chance of success. Whether we’re starting a company from scratch or we’re going to work at a corporation every day. Same dynamics, it’s always true. We have to pay attention to it. It’s the old use it or lose it scenario, I suppose. Thank you.
About Ethan Agarwal
Ethan Agarwal is the founder and CEO of Aaptiv, a leading provider of premium digital health and wellness content with the #1 audio fitness app. Launched in 2016, Aaptiv has raised over $50m in venture funding and counts nearly 200,000 paying subscribers.
Prior to launching Aaptiv, Ethan spent three years at McKinsey & Co, advising clients in technology, media, and financial industries. Previously, Ethan was an investor at LionEye Capital, a $2.5bn AUM hedge fund, focused on a merger arb strategy across energy, tech, and healthcare. Ethan began his career as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, focused on healthcare M&A.
Ethan holds a bachelor’s in economics, a second bachelor’s in political science, and a minor in entrepreneurship, all from the Johns Hopkins University. He earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.