Ryan Rodenbaugh's personal site

Big sky health

Building one really good consumer app is tough.

Building two is impressive.

Building three deserves to be studied.

Below is the folder on my iPhone where I keep all of my health-related apps.

The three apps in the top row: Oak (meditation), Zero (fasting), and Less (alcohol tracking) are all owned/managed/created by the same (relatively unknown) company, Big Sky Health.

As I see it, by owning these three apps, there are two big opportunities in front of Big Sky Health.


If Big Sky is finding that the tactics for building one health app are repeatable, they should keep going down the list of popular health app categories and building their own, better versions, working with leading experts in each category.

In August 2019, Big Sky’s fasting app Zero had 2.5M+ downloads when they brought Peter Attia in as a Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer. For the uninitiated, Peter Attia is (in my view) the leading “public intellectual” when it comes to longevity and health. As a longtime fan of his work, he researches and speaks extensively on the benefits of fasting. There are only a few people with as big of an audience as Peter who talk as extensively on the benefits of the fasting. (And one of them, Rhonda Patrick, is also an advisor to Big Sky Health!)

So, in the same way that Zero works with Peter Attia, they could create a similar app for e.g., sleep tracking that they do in partnership with Matthew Walker (Author of “Why We Sleep”, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science)

Big Sky could go down a list of popular health and fitness apps (diet tracking and weight loss, running and step tracking, etc.) and one-by-one pick off apps in which they feel they have an edge and bring in an expert to work with them as a “co-founder” (say, 5% equity for an advisor/board member-like commitment). One way to think about this would be, would endorsement of Kylie Jenner be worth giving up 5% of your make up brand? Most likely.  


For health tracking nerds like myself (and the same goes for finance tracking nerds), a top complaint is always that your data lives in several silo’ed apps.

The holy grail for a health app is building a unified health app / dashboard where all of someone’s health metrics live. To take this a step further would mean that not only are all of my health stats viewable in one place, but more importantly are talking to each other to provide unique insights.

For example: If Less saw that I had 5 drinks on Saturday night, Oak saw that I missed my Sunday meditation, Zero saw that I didn’t fast on Sunday, and then [Big Sky’s TBD Sleep tracking app] saw that I had a bad night sleep on Sunday, it would be able to help me contextualize why that bad sleep happened.

Right now, if I wanted to find an insight like this, I’d have to do a helluva lot of detective work across multiple apps.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Just a brain dump of why I think Big Sky Health is an awesome company and all of the opportunity in front of them. Something I’ll be exploring on my Substack soon is the idea of Super Apps in Asia. Apps like WeChat, Gojek, Grab, act as the operating system of the phone for their users. Through an app like WeChat, users can text, call, post social updates, make payments, shop, and more. It’s unlikely an app like this ever takes off in the US (for reasons I’ll explore on my substack), but I believe that “verticalized Super Apps” (or Super Apps for X) have a ton of potential. I’d love to see Big Sky Health develop into a Super App for Health that is a unified app where all of my health data can live and lead to highly specific, personalized, and contextualized insights.

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First published on August 30, 2020