June 17, 2022

Friday Forum is an All Hands meeting for the Levels team, where they discuss their progress and traction each week.

Josh (00:00):

Welcome to Friday Forum, June 17th, 2022. Big one today, as we have officially rolled at dawn. Wheels are up, liftoff is happening. The aspect ratio on this picture has been stretched. It’s unfortunate, but this, it’s a big week. It’s a culmination of many things, but a big week and very excited to see it happening. On that note, transfer portal’s live. Our first IRB transfers are going through. I think at last count I had received, it was something like 125 orders had gone through on the transfer portal. Moving people into the IRB, 140, according to JM. Update my numbers here. So this is happening. The liftoff is underway. I think 800 people have been notified so far, still certainly testing, ensuring systems are resilient, and many of us internally did a bunch of transfer portal work, transitioned ourselves over to the IRB. Orders are going out. This is all very exciting,


So just want to give a quick round of applause and pause there for everyone that’s been involved, and I appreciate everything that it’s taken to get here. There’s going to be a lot more scaling, a lot more work to be done, but yeah, big moment. I want to shout out Galeep who set up ATM. So I’m going to totally forget what the acronym stands for, but basically we have live monitoring at the app level, traces, metrics, and logs, so observability, you might say, of our systems. So this is going to really improve the debugging experience for engineering, and I’ve been told that this was just a side project. So Galeep took this on herself and just said, “Hey, this is not being effectively implemented. I’m going to go ahead and do this myself.” So love to see that initiative, and thank you. I’m sure many will appreciate that work.


We have three roles that are filled now, so three new team members coming to join us. Our senior PM role, we recently had the offer accepted there. And then two support associate offers we’re also accepted. So we’ll get to those on the hiring update, but very excited to finally have some of these roles closed and be very excited about the candidates that accepted. Blood panel product highlight email went out this week so you can kind of see a little snapshot there, but we’ve revived the product highlight email. It went out to I think 25,000 people. We used to send these out more consistently, and I think this one actually really boosted the visibility of blood work. Sort of in the app, we’ve ebbed and flowed in terms of how visible some of these features are, so these product emails are really great.


We also have a nutritionist marketplace survey that went out and we have results in. I don’t think we’ve done the full analysis just yet, but more learnings to come there. UK website works, so I think next Monday we’re going to be launching this work, [inaudible 00:02:56]health.com/uk is going to be the subdirectory, and we’re going to start the translation management system. So there’s a ton of work involved here. It’s going to be a big step. And yeah, first international presence for our website. Also added an international wait list link to our checkout flow. So a lot of times we actually get a ton of somewhat dissatisfied outreach from people who have tried to purchase Levels. They get into the checkout flow and then they find out, “Huh, for some reason it’s not accepting my address. I’m not sure why.”


There’s not really a deep explanation of what’s going on there, so adding that wait list link allows them to jump over and know that there will be an opportunity to join level soon. We got podcast experiments going live with Genius Life with Max [inaudible 00:03:36], and we’re also doing a deep dive into top podcast channels. I was really impressed by this idea. Just briefly, the partnerships team is having … essentially Athena is going through podcasts, existing shows, and looking at long-term advertisers on those shows, even if they may not necessarily fit the audience at first blush. So Athletic Greens on a car racing podcast, for example, was what Tom used, but I love this because essentially it’s looking for maybe counterintuitive examples of resonance that’s happening for wellness products in a different audience. So that was a great use of leverage and a smart experiment. I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.


New partnerships memo is in work as well. Looking forward to that. And then we launched the Getting to Green community and blog sourced recipe resources. So it’s a notion page. This is also great. It’s a first, very simple, scrappy approach to getting recipes that are circulating on Facebook in the community, wearable challenge and putting them up, along with our blog resources in an easy to access format. Lastly, we’re going to be adding a Carta tax advisory resource for employees. So this’ll help specifically with options. There’s a lot of complication involved, unfortunately in equity, so we want to make sure that we’re leveraging the resources that we have available. And Carta has a really nice program for this. And then we’re also bringing in Fury to help build out our accounting processes and systems. So some of this stuff can oftentimes be behind the scenes, but yeah, excited to have that available.


Marcus Philly repping the Levels in a totally separate and unrelated sponsored IG post here. We’ve got some stuff that David’s going to talk about on the scoring. And now page 2.0, new swag is available. If you haven’t signed up, definitely get yourself to Threads. Find the link and/or reach out to Mike D. Let’s see, yeah, a bunch of other great stuff going on here. Assemblage is coming up this week. Want to shout out that. All right, now I want to welcome Vijay. Vijay is a general partner and founder of the a16z Bio Fund, which is where Levels’ seed round came from. Vijay has been just an awesome partner and personal, I think friend to the team as we’ve been growing and an amazing advisor and mentor in many ways. Adjunct professor of bioengineering at Stanford, founder of Folding@home. Awesome guy. Really happy to have you on the forum today. Thanks for taking some time to chat with the team.

Vijay (05:59):

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Josh (06:02):

So generally, Vijay, you’ve seen us from 2020, really I think even before that, 2019. You’ve seen where we came from, some of the crazy stuff we’ve decided to do with culture and team building and velocity and all that. I’d love to just generally hear from your perspective how you feel about culture and velocity and distributed work as you’ve seen Levels take all these things on.

Vijay (06:28):

Yeah, so couple different things there. I mean one is I feel deep down that culture is critical to the success of a team. And the reason why is that it’s one thing to build a team that’s let say 10 people or 20 people without a great culture and still have really strong contributors in work, but scaling is the tough part of anything, scaling and growing. And culture I think is the way to have the founders, the leaders keep people in the room when they can’t be in the room anymore to scale. That that gets sort of replicated. And it’s really everything of how you do things. It’s how you hire, who you hire, how do you live such that you are actually not just saying the words of the culture, but you’re actually living it.


In terms of what you all are doing to scale, it’s really kind of amazing to watch, because I can’t think of another company that is really pushing the boundaries as much as you are in terms of virtual first, no meetings, memos, all those things. And sort of shifting paradigms is typically pretty hard, because human nature is the one thing that seems not to change. Technology can change very rapidly, people don’t change that much, but it’s been amazing to see how you’ve embraced new technologies to maybe take how people work and now scale in a way that I don’t think people were able to do before.

Josh (07:56):

Appreciate that. Yeah, everything is an experiment, and what I’m really appreciative of inside this team is the willingness to accept that. Many of the core processes we have in place are experiments and they’re subject to change and just raising hands and saying, “Hey, we need to do something different,” is much appreciated. Vijay, I’m also just … I know that you’re personally, as lead on Bio Fund, you’re exposed to a lot of the cutting edge of technology. And I’m just curious what you’re excited about in the health space, metabolic health, the future of biotech?

Vijay (08:29):

Yeah, so I think a particularly unusual time right now, because health in general has been pretty resistant to tech coming and making changes. We often talk about healthcare being a dot matrix printer or fax machine kind of culture. And that’s really not an exaggeration. I mean it’s still literally dot matrix printers and fax machines. The old legacy stuff is hard to rip out, but I think what’s really started to change maybe about five, 10 years ago is technology is starting to really make an impact in getting inroads and changing things. So in terms of enterprise centered health, like B2B health, I think there are plenty examples there. Another thing actually though that is I think much newer is consumer-oriented health and sort of going to consumers first and as healthcare shifts towards value.


And also, there’s other tailwinds, even just COVID itself, I think put health in each of our faces, and we had to be really our own GPs, in a sense, deciding the health of ourselves and our families and our loved ones and so on. I think that’s gotten people thinking, “What else can I do and what should I be doing? And maybe my doctor is a consultant, not the person who’s dictating everything.” And people are looking around for what they can do and they want to have something that works, and especially that makes it easy to work. And I think that’s the hardest part. It’s one thing to say, “I’ll work out more.” It’s another to actually be better. It’s another actually to do it. And I think people are looking for solutions that will just help them do what they want to do, but they just can’t find a way to do it. So consumer-oriented healthcare I think is a huge future.

Josh (10:14):

Well, those are trends we love to hear about. If there’s any parting words for the team, from your perspective, obviously things are a little bit hectic in the markets today. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of uncertainty about where we’re heading in a macro sense, but as a team, we have strong traction. We closed our round, we’re kind of just buckling down and facing the work ahead. And I’d love to just, if you have anything to share with the team on conditions, market conditions, building a company in uncertain times, I think everyone would appreciate that as well.

Vijay (10:50):

Yeah, so I came to the Bay Area in 1996, so I have kind of lived through a couple different downturns. I remember after the 2000 .com bubble popped, there was already a big shift there. You see it even simple things like traffic, when it was horrible and then got actually quite pleasant, which was kind of a weird thing. And there was that cycle, there’s 2008, there’s been multiple cycles like this. And in each one of them it’s usually right after this is when the best companies get built, because now you actually can’t raise just on promise. You have to raise on fundamentals, and then you actually have to build a company that provides something of value, that makes revenue, and ideally has a path towards making profit at later stages, that not just grows, but grows in a way that makes sense from a business model perspective. So I think that’s why the best companies get built now, is that you kind of have to. You don’t really have a choice. And when money is easy to raise, you actually can sort of play with other levers.


So I think the real obvious thing to do is nothing magical, it’s just to do what you want to do in the first place, which is build a great company, think about value for your customers, think about value for the company and how to scale in a way that is sustainable and will drive both top line and ideally bottom line as well. So those are things … I don’t think those are radical departures. I think that’s actually what you’ve always wanted to do. And now maybe if anything has changed, the one thing is that we just have to be careful that the market is less forgiving. So we want to make sure that when we take bets, we’re thoughtful for what we do, that when we go aggressive that we have plan Bs and Cs. It’s I think not a time to play it safe, but it’s a time to really be planning and thinking through it, such that if it is more difficult to raise that you won’t need to, or you’ll raise on the best conditions, much like the raise you just did, I think worked out quite well.

Josh (12:50):

Great reminder. It’s time to build.

Vijay (12:52):

Yeah, exactly. Well said.

Josh (12:53):

Vijay, thanks a ton for joining us. I know you’re a busy guy, but if you’d like to hang out, we got a full meeting ahead and I would love to have you, but otherwise I know the team really appreciates all your support, the support of the whole a16z team. And yeah, have a great weekend.

Vijay (13:08):

Thank you. Thrilled to be here. I’ll watch this later on Loom, which I very much enjoy. I wanted to thank the team for all that they do and for such an exciting product and exciting project experience for consumers. And thrilled for what you’ve already been able to do for people and what I think the future will bring. Thank you all so much.

Josh (13:28):

Amazing. Thanks a lot, Vijay.

Vijay (13:29):


Josh (13:31):

All right, quick culture and kudos aside. We got Jeremy and Sonya in Chicago and then I love this one, Dom and Rob at the Swedish Metabolic Health Symposium in Seattle. Just love seeing that community. And then of course want to highlight the [inaudible 00:13:44] from Sam. Just many, many people, names on the screen, names not on the screen have contributed to getting us across the milestone of liftoff. This is the first time that people are A, able to access continuous realtime information from CGM into the Levels app. It’s the first time that we’ll be able to activate our data set for research for potential analysis publication in the future. It is the first time that we have, I think, established ourselves as a legitimate contender, not only in consumer products, in health, but also in research, in science. It’s a huge thing.


It’s taken years to get us to this point. Many things were uncertain. This is sort of like a symphony. There are literally different large-scale moving projects that had to mesh to make this happen, on the logistics side, on the engineering side, on the research side, on the IRB. So just want to say thank you to everyone who’s gotten us here. This is a big step, just the beginning though, which is hard to believe. All right, we’re going to try a little something here. So we’re going to do something like a culture pearl each week, just to try and create a space to resurface themes that we’ve built through the company. I’m not going to read everything on the slide, but this week we had a book club. It was Extreme Ownership this week by Navy SEAL’s Jocko Wilnick and Leif Babin. And the recording is available in threads I think. But ultimately we had some really great discussion, really appreciate everyone who showed up, who listened to the book.


I’m sure many people also listened or read and didn’t have a chance to join. So I recommend the discussion. Ultimately there are good takeaways, less breakthrough sort of takeaways, but I think what it comes down to is that we really built much of our culture on similar concepts, which is that ownership is an opportunity. And every time somebody steps up and takes responsibility for an outcome, it alleviates the others around them and encourages the same behaviors. We have a framework with the DRI, directly responsible individual, which enables a person to be the singular accountable thread in any one project. And that’s key, because it aligns everyone else’s awareness of who’s in control, whose decisions they are. However, this breaks down if we don’t show ownership, if at the end of a project, regardless of outcome, we’re assigning blame or shifting blame rather than creating a closed loop of learning, ownership, and improvement.


So I think that that’s kind of the big takeaway, was just that extreme ownership, meaning we’re not looking for the scapegoat, we’re ultimately disagreeing upfront, committing on the path forward, owning that mission, all in alignment. Everyone has to be marching in the same direction, and thus you have to be bought in. And reinforcing that why for everyone else. And then when an outcome does arrive, whether it’s “positive”/”negative”, owning that outcome, learning from it and improving. So those are the biggest things, I think. And then lastly, I really liked the simplify and prioritize and execute. So the concepts of relax, look around, make a call. I think that really aligns with our approach to guarding deep work, not being a hectic, crazy culture. We don’t embrace chaos. We’re all about taking things as they come, making the right call, putting in deep work, putting in true thoughtfulness.


And then lastly, reducing complexity, taking that minimal step forward, as opposed to building more of a waterfall approach. We’re building a ton of inertia in one direction and aren’t able to stay agile. So anyway, just wanted to dive into that. If you’re interested in more of this, I recommend the book. I also recommend the discussion. All right, over to … oh, Levels shows you how food affects your health. The main thing is still the main thing. Even after liftoff, we’re going to be learning a tremendous amount about the resonance of our product in this direction over the coming weeks and months. So it’s an exciting time. All right, experimentation and learning section. I believe this is Jackie.

Jackie (18:00):

Hey guys. I wanted to share a bit about an experiment we ran with one of our newest partners, Turtle Creek Lane. In May we ran a bunch of promotions on Instagram with TCL. So this account, just for a little bit of background, is run by Jen Howton, who’s an interior designer and influencer. And Casey had been in talks with her for a while. And we finally got Jen on board to be an affiliate in our program this year, which was really exciting. And last month we ran a bunch of Instagram promotions including a giveaway. Casey did an Instagram live with Jen, which was awesome. And these promotions generated 163 new members, which made TCL the number two partner code in May after Sinclair and the number eight partner code over the past 12 months, which was pretty amazing for a totally new partner. Jen had talked about CGMs a little bit before. She and her family had been using them for a while, but never talked about Levels before, so this was pretty incredible to see.


And then we also saw an increase of 5,000 new followers for Levels and 6,000 new email signups from these promos. Go to the next slide. So just a high level, this experiment was pretty different from past ones that we’ve run before, mainly because of Jen’s content. So most partners that we work with are in the health, wellness, nutrition, biohacking space. TCL’s content is completely different from most of the partners that we work with, really focused on home, family, interior design. And she’s talked about CGMs, like I mentioned, but her content overall is not really focused exclusively on health. So this was interesting. And we dug into a little bit more about why this performs so well for us. And if you go to the next slide, there’s a few factors that we typically look at when we’re looking at potential experiments to run or potential partners. We’ll look at audience demographics. So for example, male versus female audience, are they US based?


We’ll look at the host relationship with their audience. This is really key for us, especially with a high price point like ours. We like to just make sure that the hosts have a really strong influence over their audience. This relates to engagement rate, which I’ll share a little bit more about how we calculate this in a second. Authenticity is really important to us. So are they talking about Levels from personal experience? We require that all our partners are actually Levels members and tried out the product and can talk about the experience with a personal testimonial. And then platform. A lot of our partners have a presence on multiple platforms, YouTube, Instagram, podcasts. And performance on various platforms might perform differently. So we’ll take a look at each one to assess if the experiment’s worth doing and to forecast it. And as we increase number of experiments that we’ll be doing, which we are, we’re doing a ton more experiments this year and campaigns that we run, these contributing factors are what we’ll be trying to better understand.


And if you go to the next slide, just to quick double click on how we’re measuring the host relationship with their audience, which I think was key to this experiment with Turtle Creek Lane. We take a look at engagement rate. And for Instagram, we calculate this by looking at number of likes and comments and divide that by the total audience, the total number of followers. So for Instagram, the industry standard for good engagement rate is between 1-3.5% of the total audience. So this is where most Levels partners who perform really, really well for us will fall. And Turtle Creek Lane’s average engagement rate is over 4%, which is really impressive. And the TCL team shared with us that more than 10% of her audience actually watched the story about the Levels giveaway and click through and conversion rate were really high overall compared to what we typically see with Instagram stories across other partners. So this signals a particularly really strong relationship that Turtle Creek has with her audience, which of course correlates with high conversions, as we saw.


And then just a few key take takeaways and next steps from this experiment. They’re really exciting for us. One, this is a really good signal for us because it shows that there are absolutely partners and audiences that aren’t purely health and wellness focused that can perform exceptionally well for us. And this opens the door for us to go out and experiment with a bunch more creators who are not explicitly health and wellness focused, which is really exciting. So more experiments to come. And secondly, just more internally, a note for the partnerships team is something that I’ll be looking at more with Tom is just weighing engagement more than content focus as we look at assessing new potential partners and forecasting partner promotions moving forward. Engagement’s going to be super important and we’ll weigh it a bit more in that process. And then lastly, we’ll be prioritizing experimenting with new partners with high engagement rates, even those whose content is not purely health focused, which is super exciting. There’s a lot of runway there that we haven’t looked into yet. So yeah, excited for what’s to come.

Josh (23:40):

Thanks Jackie. I particularly really like the … oh, I’m getting an echo here. I really like the engagement concept and also the authenticity of the validation or the authenticity of the recommendation. I think that is something that there’s this uncanny valley of product recommendations that people see all the time, where this is clearly just being read from a script and there isn’t a real heartfelt validation happening. And what I’ve loved about all of our … really, the vast majority of the affiliates we’ve worked with so far is how authentic it really is. You see that with people like Kelly and Hyman and others. So yeah, just really appreciate the partnerships you focus on finding that. I think David?

David (24:24):

Yep. Cool. So last week Alan walked us through what we learned from Now V1 and where we were heading with Now V2. Really focused on simplification and investment on the platform that’s going to facilitate our behavior change purpose for our members. And we’ve had another round of learning from feedback and we wanted to show where we’ve landed from last week. So as we talked about last week, we’re going to be having this new game that’s going to be centered around spike goals and stable glucose. So we shared this yesterday, but if you go to the next slide, I wanted to share some of the thinking that happened over the last week. So what we want to do, what we’re now thinking is that we’re going to be simplifying the space that we showed last week even further to promote an area based on engagement and rewards.


And we’ll be doing this through brief transitional and animations that draw attention when something interesting happens. So you’re not seeing it here in the screenshot because there’s limited space, but last week you saw that there was this new user focused, member focused, you can do everything on the same screen, whether it’s look at the hero game up top, see all of your data, or see the above the fold insights that we’ll push to you. And last week we showed that there’d be an animation that would kind of, when you had a new insight, it would ping the bottom and flash and draw your attention to it. Some of the usability feedback we had was that would be even better if that was right at the top, the first thing your eye sees. So what we’re doing is we’re creating a space at the top where it’s sort of a two-way conversation between Levels and the member, where whenever something happens that is interesting, we have a platform to draw your attention to it.


And it’s also one of the foundational core system hooks that we’ll use as we weave in game dynamics for behavior change into here. So what you’ll have, and you’ll notice in the slide in the far left is your stable state. When there’s nothing new, you’ll see how you’re doing throughout the day, both at the top, as well as how you’re doing right now in terms of that qualitative readout on your glucose and how you’re trending, but when something does happen, that will briefly transition to show you what that new message is, whether you have a new insight, you kind of have one point of sorts with new stable hours coming in, or if you’ve just done something, that we want to give you a little bit of a reward for doing something positive. So what you would see is each of these three screens to the right, you would briefly see a little animation. I’m not animating it here, that’s not done yet.


And it wouldn’t be this specific emoji. We’d have something a bit more Levels on brand, but it would kind of animate it and feel fun. It would show up for two or three seconds with a message. So if it had insights, it would say something like, “Hey, two new insights for you. Check them out below.” Let’s say you come back after four hours and you’ve been really stable after a period of unstability, we might shoot you a really positive reward here with a little confetti and a little trophy that says, “Plus three hours stable time. Great job, keep up the good work.” After three seconds, that would fade back to your familiar screen. So what we’re seeing here is retaining the ability to push you something that’s really important for the moment, but not arresting the entire screen and having people be confused about where they’re at. It’ll degrade off and then they have the choice to opt into any of those experiences there.


The final thing on the right you’re seeing here is, as you know, we really want to incentivize logging. So after you add a log for the first few times or on some variable reward ratio, could we do something where after you add a log, right away we have something playful like, “Got it! Meal digesting,” flashing for two seconds or so. Yeah, as a Alan clarified here, stable time, not points. Sorry, I misspoke there. But we’re optimizing for stable time throughout the day. And I think next slide? Okay, so just to go back to one other thing that Alan mentioned last week, we showed some of these earlier screens on what we were thinking in terms of the guidance layer. So as your glucose changes throughout the day, how do we help people understand what that means and what’s happening? And having a readout that ties into the system of the stability ring up above around, “Oh, you’re spiking, you’re recovering, you’re crashing,” things like that.


So this is where we were, and if you go to the next slide, we’ll be looping this into that framework where we have a simplified, stable kind of hero unit, where we have that space for this. So as you transition into a spike, you might see a brief animation with something that represents the spike. The text layer below is going to have the qualitative description about what’s happening, plus an action that you can take based on that. There’s a Google doc that’s out there in the product form. You can take a look and provide feedback on some of the different states that we’re going through here, but this is the direction. So we think it’s a simpler UI. We’re going to get more feedback on this. Huge shout out also to the data science and research team, Taylor, Helena, Lauren.


They’re coming up with the algorithms to actually power the glucose state changes and trends and spike detection that’s going to drive and power the stability ring. It’s going to be based on more of a spike algorithm that maps onto our members’ perceived reality of what that is, and also is heavily rooted in the science so that we can close the loop on both what members are seeing and it’s relevant to their health. And this will all hopefully serve as a stable foundation that will start to layer on that behavior change loop that we’re getting to. More to come on that in the next couple of weeks, but the first thing we’ll be doing is suggesting food improvement swaps. So that’s all I have for now, and if you do have any more feedback, please let us know in threads.

Josh (29:53):

Awesome, thank you for walking us through that. All right. Okay, hiring update. So Lynette Diaz and Taylor [inaudible 00:30:04] are joining as support associates. Excited for that. It’s going to be July and then October. And then Kosama is joining as senior product manager. So very excited about all three of these, teams growing in great ways, and cannot wait to work with all these folks. And then we have an updated careers page. Mitch, did you want to say anything more on this one? No need? Oh, you’re muted. Updated careers page, Levels that link/careers. First of all, it looks beautiful, but secondly, if you want to find the open roles, they’re still there. We’re still looking for a visual designer, software engineer is permanently open, and support associates is permanently open. It’s just a refresh visibly, but if you or someone makes a great fit for the Levels culture, please send them this way. We got that same slide there. All right, metabolic pearl of the week from Casey.

Casey (31:02):

Hello. Today’s metabolic pearl is on micronutrients and their involvement in metabolic health processes. This gets a little sciencey, but I’ll try and boil it down to the key points that matter for us and our members’ health. So first, what are micronutrients? Micronutrients are small molecules we get mostly from food that are involved in innumerable metabolic processes, that are necessary for glucose regulation and ATP production. Examples of micronutrients include vitamin C, D, E, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, chromium, and many, many more. Micronutrients function in several ways, one of which is that these molecules can be structurally incorporated into proteins. So an example of this is the micronutrient selenium being incorporated into proteins called selenoproteins, which have selenium as part of their protein structure. You can see this in the photo on the right here. And what selenoproteins do in the body is act as antioxidants and also serve key roles in immune cell function.


A second function of micronutrients is to serve as co-factors that allow for chemical reactions in the body to work. So you can imagine that if there’s this protein in the cell whose job is to convert molecule A to molecule B, that protein might need a micronutrient co-factor to bind to it, to allow it to set off this process and function properly, like a key in an ignition. Third, micronutrients can act directly as antioxidants, meaning molecules that neutralize the damaging metabolic byproducts that can build up in the cell and can hurt the mitochondria and our DNA and other cell structures. You can see in this image at the bottom right here, vitamin E and vitamin C, and they’re acting as antioxidants here. So this OH with a dot next to it, that dot represents an unpaired electron. And that vitamin E molecule is going to actually take that unpaired electron that could be damaging to the cell, neutralize it, and allow that OH oxygen and hydrogen with the unpaired electron, to become water.


So that’s something that micronutrients can do. And a common feature of antioxidant molecules, like vitamins, is a hydrocarbon ring that can accommodate that unpaired electron. In this slide, we’re inside the mitochondria at the mitochondrial inner membrane, where so much of the action happens in the final stages of glucose byproducts being turned to ATP. So on the left you can see a dynamic representation of what’s called the electron transport chain that ultimately leads to ATP production. On the right, you can see a static illustration of this exact same set of proteins. And in this illustration it actually lists which co-factors are necessary for each of those individual proteins to work. So you can see things like vitamin E, B2, selenium, B12, B5, B1, zinc, vitamin C, many more. This image is from an awesome paper called Feeding Mitochondria from the journal Clinical Nutrition.


And it’s just so important to remember we have like 37 trillion cells in the body, roughly. Each of them can have thousands of mitochondria, each of which have a renewable electron transport chain, sets of proteins, and all these need micronutrients from food to function. So this is just a visual example of how those are so important. Zooming in on magnesium, this micronutrient is involved in over 300 enzymatic chemical reactions in the body. And something that I think is under-recognized is that for ATP, which is represented here in this photo here on the top left, for ATP to be biologically active, it actually needs to be bound to magnesium. And you can see this magnesium here in this little pocket of ATP, which is necessary for ATP to be biologically active. Deficiency of magnesium can lead to lots of metabolic issues, like insulin resistance, reduction in glucose uptake, decreased insulin release, and much more. And you can see in this image on the right, magnesium’s represented by the little red stars, and you can see how it’s involved in several different processes within the cell that are involved in metabolism.


One challenge we have with micronutrients today is that we have a very nutrient depleted diet, and as many of half of all Americans are deficient in at least some critical micronutrients. And this is partly because of soil depletion and partly because our diets lack diversity, with at least 75% of Americans not eating the recommended amount of veggies and fruits or high quality animal protein sources and the majority of our calories these days coming from refined forms of commodity crops like wheat, corn, and soy. So restoring soil health is likely a really key part of how we’re going to improve micronutrient composition in our food and our diets. And a movement is happening in this space, from transitioning conventional farming practices towards more sustainable regenerative farming practices that allow for healthier soil that allows for more micronutrients to get into our food.


So how to get these micronutrients? There’s many key micronutrients we should consider when thinking about metabolism. And I list eight here. This is certainly not comprehensive, but here are eight important ones including vitamin D, magnesium, selenium, zinc, B vitamins, alpha lipoic acid, manganese, and chromium, and some different sources for each of these. But basically to keep it simple, remember to shoot for as much variety of unrefined foods as you can. And this is just scratching the surface, but for more information, there’s two great articles on our blog and a whole new Levels episode coming out soon with the CEO of Eat Real, who’s working for a greater accessibility for sustainable micronutrient rich foods in schools. So look out for that. Thanks.

Josh (35:33):

Love all that, great imagery and great connection. Back to the Levels blog content. Thank you Casey.

Speaker 6 (35:40):

Okay, I’ve got a quick update on company objectives. The main objectives remain the same. And the key initiatives for the main objectives, a lot of progress on this liftoff and getting that to our existing members. Really great progress there. On the metabolic health product, we made a lot of progress on the behavior design framework and also selecting three behaviors to experiment with, which is on food swaps, which is the bread and butter of our app experience, and turning that into a behavior and habit, activity after meals, and fasting. And really starting with the first one, learning from that and then applying the learning in the system to the other behavior interventions. On the UK [inaudible 00:36:29], still a big priority and we have resourced it for launch. There is some discussion around what is required post launch and making sure that it is supported correctly and the scope is right. So more to come on all of these. Talk to you all next week. Thanks. Bye.

Josh (36:53):

Cool. Made it happen. Let me switch back. Actually, we’re at the individual contribution, so I’m going to stop the share here and pull up my participants list. And taking it from the top, all right, which means me. So I’m obviously, I think, overwhelmingly excited about the liftoff moment having arrived and I just feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to the team for pulling something off that I would say had a low probability of success in the beginning. There’s just a lot of moving parts, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of risk. It’s quite bold to try and build in the way that we did and I’m just really proud that we’re here and I appreciate so many people who stepped up to the challenges and took on pieces of this and worked together to make it happen. Personally, let’s see, I’m excited to … this afternoon or tomorrow I’m going to be replacing the radiator on my 2001 Toyota Tundra, which blew up on the side of the highway yesterday. And honestly, I could use a little wrenching project, so that’s what I’m excited for. Maz?

Maz (38:07):

Nice. Good luck. Obviously excited about liftoff and kind of all the changes that come after that. I’ve been saying that for a few weeks. This week, what became clear to me is there’s a really cool lattice work of culture. There’s a lot of different pieces that all come together nicely. And someone externally had referenced it, and it was a nice zoom out moment for me. It’s no one piece, but it’s all these pieces together and they all support one another. So I just enjoyed that perspective. Personal/work, starting to plan my first think week, which I’ve never done. So looking forward to that the week after Assemblage. And then on the personal side, separately planning a trip to Banff. All this Canada talk lately from all these Canadians has got me warmed up, so hopefully going to get up to Banff and maybe see Riley along the way.

Josh (38:56):

Very nice. Yeah, I’m hoping to follow suit sometime soon. Ben?

Ben (39:03):

Yeah, echo everything with liftoff. It’s just so cool to be here. It kind of feels surreal that it’s like it’s not here, but it actually is. So just appreciate everyone’s work on that. Also, super cool to see Riley this week. That was the first time that we’ve seen each other in a number of COVID years, so it was very cool to see you, and it was just like old time, so that was awesome. And then personally, last year for my birthday, Pam got this guitar that I’ve been wanting forever and it took a year to get here and it just got here this week. So super excited about that and I’ll find some time to play along on it. So that’s it.

Josh (39:46):

Very nice. Awesome. Jason?

Jason (39:52):

Obviously liftoff, so I think everybody’s going to talk about that. I think for me, I think I was most excited today about TCL. I think it validates the sort of shift in persona of what we were looking at in terms of who we were targeting, and really broadens the opportunity from what I think was originally … or what I was seeing. So really excited about that and great to see those numbers and kind of excited to see what’s next. Really excited to have met with a lot of different teams, and everybody is super excited to collaborate and look into push data into all the different parts of the organization. Personally, folks arrive later today, so get to unveil the house, and we’ll see how that goes.

Josh (40:39):

Nice. Fun. Casey?

Casey (40:46):

Oh my gosh, lift off for sure, of course. I think one of the things that makes me so just grateful to this team about how we’ve done liftoff is just that, I mean we’ve really done it our way, and such a high integrity way. It’s forging these relationships, building trust over time, using our culture and transparency and all these things to make these relationships actually work, not skirting any corners. It’s just really beautiful to see and just a testament to the Levels way, and I’m just so grateful for our team.


Other fun things … let’s see. Oh, I saw one of our investors, Hayme, the band, they came to bend this week in this really awesome small show so I got to go see them and that was really fun to see our rockstar investors performing and I was wearing Levels and some people at the concert came up to me and knew about Levels so it was just like, “Oh, my …” it was very exciting. And I think the last thing I would just mention of a highlight of the week, I recorded a podcast with Jackie on culture. It actually might have been end of last week, but it was so fun and I’m just so grateful to Jackie for having these deep conversations about culture and just for all the amazing work that she’s doing. And that partnership’s update was just absolute fire. So that was really just a highlight of my week.

Josh (42:12):

Can’t wait to hear that one. Yeah, thanks both of you. Chris?

Chris (42:18):

Definitely liftoff, and really more about just how the team dealt with all of the things that go bump in the middle of the night during a liftoff, from Scott wearing his pilot’s hat, to Jam’s haikus, to just the attitude of all positive. I’ve been through a lot of launches and there’s usually a lot of stress, a lot of yelling, a lot of nasty emails. None of that here. It was just really fun to watch. So not only what we do, but how we do it speaks volumes to this company. Second on the Levels front is KC’s [inaudible 00:42:59] glasses. They just put a huge smile on my face when I see those. Things are awesome. Personally, we are finally breaking 75 degrees here, so it feels like summer’s actually finally arriving in Montana after we all got flooded. So spending a lot of time outside for the first time before the next rainfall comes.

Josh (43:18):

Yeah, I was curious how the flooding was going over there. It sounds like –

Chris (43:22):

Not as bad as Yellowstone, so minor flooding, but not nearly as bad as what’s going on on the other corner of Montana.

Josh (43:30):

Good. Well, enjoy the weather. Cissy?

Cissy (43:35):

Have to plus one Chris on that. I think it’s a joy watching all the things that go into liftoff from the sidelines, being not as involved. It’s so awesome to see all the energy and camaraderie that goes into such a successful liftoff, and all the kinks along the way and working through them together. I had a bunch of really energizing conversations this week with a few of our amazing members to try and get them more involved in initiatives. A few of them are already doing things within our community, so giving them a spotlight and supporting them is kind of the next step. And then had a few energizing conversations with Casey, Sonya, and Karen about community building with Casey and international expansion. So a lot of exciting conversations happening. On the personal front, heading to a outdoor concert this weekend and potentially an indoor skydiving trip. So we’ll let you know how that goes.

Josh (44:32):

Sounds great. Have fun. Hui?

Hui (44:37):

Yeah, work wise, obviously liftoff, and also the progress we’ve been making on [inaudible 00:44:45] too, really excited about that. Yeah, personal wise, my family has been sick for the past two weeks, so kind of really excited for a longer weekend and just not doing anything. I really hope everyone can recover fully soon. Yeah.

Josh (45:04):

Yeah, get well soon, everybody. Ian?

Ian (45:09):

On the business front, everyone has already said everything that I also appreciate about liftoff. It’s been super fun to be adjacent to all the people who have been doing such great work on it. On the personal front, last weekend I drove a few hours to North Texas and played an epic pickleball tournament. There was a heat advisory and summer came super early to Texas this year and summer in Texas is already bad. There were people withdrawing from singles events due to threatening heat exhaustion. And I have a friend who’s a sports nutritionist, so I consulted with him about what to eat and drink before, during, and after and took his advice and totally was able to keep my foot on the gas through the whole event and just had an awesome time. Came home with two medals, so I’m still glowing in the after days of that.

Josh (46:09):

Pickleball’s a growing obsession over here as well. Enjoying it a lot. Love to play at some point. Jen?

Jen (46:18):

I am of course excited for liftoff, really also excited for the new [inaudible 00:46:23] stuff. Really excited to see how it’s all progressing. And personally, I’m just happy I made out of the woods [inaudible 00:46:38]. Looking forward to Father’s Day to shower Chris with all the love he deserves. He’s an awesome dad.

Josh (46:46):

Awesome. Jesse?

Jesse (46:51):

It’s going to be liftoff for me work wise. I’m excited about all the work I had too. Personally, I have gotten into a pickleball groove myself in Houston, so I’m going to play some this weekend and also get out to the golf course. And I’m finishing my class this weekend also, so this is a big week, work and personal for me.

Josh (47:14):

Congrats. That’s awesome. Justin?

Justin (47:19):

For me, it’s probably Assemblage next week. It’s always exciting to spend time with everybody, more sync. And personally, I’ve been reading a book called Hyperion. I don’t know if anybody’s ever read it, but yeah, it’s pretty good so far and going to probably just read most of the weekend outside. It’s nice and sunny.

Josh (47:40):

Nice. Lauren?

Lauren (47:44):

Let’s see, liftoff. I’m really excited about all of the product and design work that’s happening to really create a guided and beautiful experience for our users. So I think that’s going to be really exciting to see happen in parallel with liftoff and getting a little more scale. I was walking out of my building yesterday and a guy saw the Levels patch. And long story short, he invested as part of the crowdfunding portion of our series A and had tons of ideas and questions and was just so enthusiastic and excited about what we’re doing. And I thought that was just really cool. And he ended up by being like, “Well, I’m rooting for you and can’t wait to see what happens.” So that was cool. Personally, I’ll just go on the pickleball thread. I haven’t tried pickleball, but my mom is really obsessed with the idea of trying pickleball. She hasn’t tried it, but she’s looked into classes. And anyway, she’s more on trend than I am right now. And that is my update.

Josh (48:35):

It’s the best. It is a fun sport no matter what your level of expertise it seems like, which is the best part. Maz? Might be on mute.

Maz (48:52):

Sorry, hard time finding the unmute. Yeah, thanks. On the work front, I think to second [inaudible 00:49:00]’s sentiment, I think the product and design and engineering side, there’s a lot of process improvements that we’re doing and hopefully improving not only the functions within the group, but also the interface between the groups. So really excited about all the work that’s going on there. And big thanks to the leads there. And obviously some of the work has shown up in the new product designs and really excited about that. On the personal front, traveling in Europe for a little bit, working out of here and just getting used to time zones. Being awake until 4:00 AM is kind of weird, but it actually works because I’m a night person, so it’s been fun. And I can be up at 4:00 AM, which is a huge thing. I’ve always woken up to Jam texts. Now I can do the opposite and pay back.

Josh (49:48):

Good return. Enjoy the trip. Mercy?

Mercy (49:55):

Echoing what everyone else said, liftoff. It’s just really exciting to have gotten to this point and checked part one off of the list. And then personally, pickleball this weekend, and I got a bike recently, so I’m going to be biking around and hopefully just have a lot of water with me so I don’t get too hot.

Josh (50:15):

Get up. Mike D?

Mike D (50:19):

I don’t know what pickleball is and I’m not going to talk about it. Not going to say liftoff, but yes, liftoff. And definitely following along with the product development stuff with Maz and Lauren and Taylor, it’s been really neat to see that come together and I’m excited for what it’s going to do for the product. And then lastly, from the book club yesterday I think everyone agreed there weren’t really many new actual leadership tactics, but the big takeaway was this mindset shift of ownership. And it’s something that we’ve done a really great job at down selecting for. And it’s just really humbling and inspiring to work with amazing people that share that mindset. And liftoff’s a great example.

Josh (51:08):

Love it. Riley?

Riley (51:11):

I won’t say liftoff, but I’ll kind of say liftoff. Just seeing so many good examples in the last couple of weeks of people coming together, solving problems, and working through things. And it’s so inspiring to see and be a part of. So that’s on the professional side. And the personal side, great to see Ben and Theo this week. I was really pumped about that. So really excited to get out for a nice dinner with them.

Josh (51:42):

I totally missed the boat on getting that picture into the forum. Sorry about that. Sonya?

Sonya (51:49):

Okay, so I have so many. One, I have my 60-day check in this week, which was awesome. I feel like I’m in the startup time warp where I’ve been here for two days and two years, but it’s actually been 60 days. So it was great to reflect on the last two months and look forward. Definitely the Coke challenge. Thank you all for playing along. I got some great giggles out of everyone’s videos and can’t wait for people to see it when it hits Instagram. Super energized with the new team members. Had great conversations with [inaudible 00:52:14] and Jason this week and it was so fun to meet Jeremy in person. And then super excited for Assemblage next week up in SF, and especially excited that Sarah Gottfried’s coming to dinner. I started reading her latest book, Women, Food, and Hormones and I stayed up way too late last night reading it. And this weekend I’m going to go on a nice long bike ride and catch up on all my life to dos, so that is that.

Josh (52:35):

Sounds great. We’ll jump to Zach.

Zach (52:40):

Yeah, personal front, so my wife is a lawyer too, but she works at a crazy busy firm and she gets her first chunk of time off and I miss her. So I’m super stoked to actually get to spend time with my best buddy. On the professional front, so many things. Liftoff is awesome. The app is looking amazing. Everything is looking super cool. I had a great conversation with Jason at the beginning part of this week. We’re going to have a lot of opportunities to work together and I’m super stoked about that too.

Josh (53:10):

Love to hear it. Enjoy the time. Okay, we’re 60 seconds over here, but action packed week. Thanks everybody. Tons more to do. See you all at Assemblage. I’ll actually be on a think week unfortunately, but I’ll be popping in here and there. And have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the weather. Stay hydrated.