Innovating with Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to Improve Personal Performance S13 Ep10

Guest: Kerri McMaster - Co-Founder of Performance Labs

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Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is quickly becoming a key element for today's innovations. While many think that AI is new, its been around for decades but just now finding the traction it needs to be applied to a broad set of innovations.

In today's show, we have a discussion with Kerri McMaster, co-founder and head of strategy for Performance Labs, who shares the 25 year process of applying big data and AI to improving the performance of amateur and professional athletes.

Topics/show highlights we discussed:

  • The question we asked ourselves: If we had enough data on people's physical capabilities — what could we do to have lifestyle impact?
  • Kerri's inspiration was the Polar heart rate monitor which triggered the “what if” 25 years ago that led to formation of Performance Labs.
  • Shared the traumatic effort to transition from capturing data to automating the analysis. It took much longer than anticipated.
  • How being naive was a big help.
  • Sharing the difficulty of using artificial intelligence before it was ready.
  • What did it feel like that Performance Labs was in big data before big data was cool.
  • How to use continues testing to see when the market would be ready to accept the new product.
  • How the Apple Nano + Nike Foot Pod was the tipping point that caused Performance Labs to build their prototype.
  • Learning how to understand when customers are ready to absorb this new idea.
  • Getting the timing right was and is their biggest challenge.
  • Using product families to manage and mitigate risk for customer readiness.
  • The role big data and artificial intelligence play in their product.
  • Best advice …
    • Be careful to not over invest. Timing is everything.
    • Don't let lack of experience hold you back. Don't let fear stop you.
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About Kerri McMaster:

Kerri is a serial entrepreneur with a focus on startups. Her particular emphasis is on product and market validation along with strategy and business development. She is the co-founder and head of strategy of Performance Lab which specializes in in activity analytics and automated coaching with the goal to “nudge” behavioral change and improve performance outcomes for amateur and professional athletes.

About Performance Labs:

Performance Lab changes lives through fitness and wellness coaching. A pioneer in the use of monitoring technology, Performance Lab built the first commercial sports lab in the world 20 years ago, and since then has collected data involving tens of thousands of athletes and users at all levels. For 15 years data was collected largely in the lab; for the last five years it has been collected exclusively in the field using wearable sensors, providing Performance Lab with a vast amount of unparalleled domain expertise. Bringing together this unique perspective with sports science, coaching and technology to understand and formulate the correlations between data, activity types, and performance results, Performance Lab created the ARDA Coaching Engine.

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Performance Lab has been using and refining its ARDA coaching methodology as the foundation of its corporate health and wellness services, with tremendous success. Of the hundreds of casual sportspeople and sedentary individuals we have trained for a half marathon, 90% of the participants reached the start line – and every one of them finished. These rates are triple the industry average.

The ARDA Coaching Engine was conceived by Performance Lab co-founder Jon Ackland, an internationally regarded exercise physiologist and sports performance consultant whose clients include world champions and world record holders across a number of disciplines. Including: Terrenzo Bozzone, triathlon; All Blacks, rugby; Team New Zealand, America’s Cup; and the New Zealand national triathlon, rowing and cycling squads.


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