Issue No. 281: Uncharted

This issue is presented by

Join us in NYC for an immersive wellness event.

Adventure is calling.


Feeling stuck, Americans aren’t happy.

Less than one-third are engaged at work, and life satisfaction is reaching record lows. In a rut, they’re repeating predictable routines in perpetuity.

Breaking the cycle, adventure-based pursuits can improve mental health, promote physical activity, and inspire awe — leading more people to heed the call.

Side Quests

Brave exploration was once core to survival. In the modern world, risk is discouraged.

But, unfulfilled by safe and easy living, people are paying for organized odysseys.

  • Growing 15% annually, adventure travel will be a $2T industry by 2032.
  • From 2020–22, tour companies saw a 658% spike in travelers served.
  • Post COVID, 14.5M more people are engaged in outdoor recreation.

While wellness retreats indulge Health Hedonists, other operators want to replicate struggle in the image of misogi, vision quests, and The Hero’s Journey.

Extreme. Thrill-chasing, the 1% are buying exclusive—and potentially lethal—experiences.

Elite Exped charges >$50K to climb Everest, Virgin Galactic sells trips to space for $450K, and tickets for the ill-fated Titanic sub ran $250K.

Hooked on a feeling money can’t buy, rich patrons are seemingly undeterred by death.

Moderate. Dialing down the danger, the category is growing by catering to new demographics.

Serving seniors, nonprofit Road Scholar enables lifelong discovery, and tour host G Adventures says more than one-third of customers are over 50 — attributing the trend to rising lifespans.

Improving access, REI Adventures aims to empower women, plus partnered with Outdoor Afro for routes rooted in Black history.

Communal. Building camaraderie, Highlander hosts long-distance hikes, Ragnar organizes team relays, and 29029 offers community-oriented mountaineering.

Incorporating competition, HYROX popularized fitness racing, while endurance events—from trail running to ultramarathon to cyclocross—up the ante.

Practical. Requiring less investment, platforms like AllTrails and FarOut helped hiking reach new heights, and GORUCK is growing rucking.

Creating a gateway to the outdoors, apps from Hipcamp and The Dyrt connect users to campsites, while glamping and adventure lodges ease people in.


At the risk of glorifying struggle, tough journeys train antifragility.

An antidote to cheap dopamine, doing hard things supports confidence, happiness, and resilience in times of hardship.

But, chasing adrenaline can become its own hedonic treadmill. Plus, while studies show suffering can lead to growth, positive experiences can have the same effect.

Ultimately, adventures can be grueling, enjoyable, or both; what people actually want is to fend off atrophy with fresh perspective.

Takeaway: Tired of existing on autopilot, consumers are seeking new challenges to discover—or forget—who they really are, creating an untapped opportunity for brands to guide the way.

🎙 On the Podcast

Eric Litman, Founder and CEO of Aescape

Aescape founder and CEO Eric Litman discusses futuristic massage tech.

Underwhelmed by traditional bodywork, Eric created Aescape. Using AI robotics, the company provides a precise, consistent, fully automated massage experience.

We also cover: partnering with Equinox, the future of human-robot interactions, and Aescape’s seven-year journey to launch.

Listen to today’s episode here.

🧠 Headspace launches mental health coaching

The meditation app turned mental health company added 1:1 coaching for stress management and emotional resilience.

Therapy lite. Delivering personalized, chat-based support, sessions are not meant to replace traditional therapy. But, Headspace plans to add clinical services later this year.

All-new. DTC coaching is the latest addition to Headspace’s evolving platform.

  • 2021: Headspace merged with DTC mental health provider Ginger.
  • 2022: It acquired Shine and unified its mindfulness and therapy services.
  • 2023: Thinking clinically, it refocused its brand around lifelong mental health care.

Its relatively slow progression from rollup to rollout could be important for quality control, especially in the wake of Cerebral’s $7M FTC fine.

Coach+. Tagging in certified health and wellness coaches, Headspace is catering to those who don’t require full-on therapy — filling a void on the needs-based spectrum of care.

Punchline: Headspace is bridging the gap between meditation and treatment, providing wellness chats as a precursor to clinical sessions.

Presented by Jack Taylor

🔊 Calling All Changemakers

Mark your calendars, Jack Taylor’s Wellness Showcase returns to Brooklyn on May 16th.

On the guest list? Best-in-class brands like Athletic Brewing, GORUCK, Hyperice, Plunge, WHOOP… and you.

Join industry leaders and tastemakers for an immersive all-day experience — featuring a morning run, padel lessons, group workouts, product sampling, happy hour, and more.

Hosted at NYC’s Padel Haus Dumbo, the private event will explore the cutting edge of fitness, nutrition, self-care, and high performance.

It’s your chance to live your best life with the brands and builders at the forefront of holistic wellness.

RSVP: It’s free to attend, but space is limited; request an invite today.

📰 News & Notes

  • Massage studios tap tech, recovery trends.
  • Find your dream health and fitness job today.
  • Personalized nutrition app ZOE enacts layoffs.
  • Ultrahuman plans smart ring factory in Indiana.
  • European gyms hit membership, revenue highs.
  • Oura enters Target following Amazon, Best Buy debuts.
  • ASICS unveils recyclable runners “made to be returned.”
  • SwingSesh launches fitness playsets for kids and parents.
  • Xplor Mariana Tek enters the UK, inks Barry’s, BLOK, and 1REBEL.
  • Gopuff adds fresh grocery and produce delivery for Misfits Market.
  • Finnish preventative diagnostics firm Nightingale Health sets up lab at Cornell.
  • Epicore Biosystems launches connected hydration platform for “industrial athletes.”
  • Youll helps wellness brands boost recurring revenue and retention with their own app. Book a demo to get started.*

💰 Money Moves

  • Wilde Brands, maker of chicken breast-based protein chips, raised $20M in a funding round led by KarpReilly, with participation from rappers Jack Harlow and Machine Gun Kelly.
  • Pediatric care platform Summer Health raised $11.65M in a Series A round.
  • Gemini Sports Analytics, an AI decision-making platform for sports, closed a $3.1M seed round led by Will Ventures.
  • Obesity management company Ilant Health secured a $2.5M seed extension.
  • SWAT Equity Partners acquired grab-and-go fresh snack brand Sunnie.
  • Reperio Health, provider of in-home health screening kits, secured $14M in new funding and a same-day delivery partnership with Uber.
  • Healthy aging platform BetterAge received a $2.5M grant from the NIH.
  • Metabolism testing startup Calorify raised nearly $500K in a pre-seed round.
  • Multi-brand outdoor gear supplier Kent Outdoors secured $100M from asset-based lender Eclipse Business Capital.
  • Pelvital USA, maker of FDA-approved pelvic health device Flyte, added $2.32M in a seed-plus round.
  • ADHD care company Clarity Pediatrics secured $10M in a seed round led by Rethink Impact.
  • UK-based sportswear retailer JD Sports will acquire US sporting goods shop Hibbett for $1.1B.
  • Organic hummus maker Little Sesame received a $2.2M grant from the USDA.


Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, Ryan Deer, and Jasmina Breen.


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