Fitness tech hasn’t quite arrived yet, depending on who you ask. One of the biggest pain points the category faces is the difficulty of self-reporting. Only the most dedicated users will log their progress, day in and day out, for long enough to make a difference. That’s why hardware products that automate the process, like Nike Fuelband, have become so popular.
But plenty of startups are innovating around this problem. Today a new one launched out of Chattanooga that uses gaming elements and old fashioned corporate peer pressure to keep users engaged. Nudge is the product of three first-time entrepreneurs. The group raised $300,000 from friends and family to build their product. Rather than sell directly to consumers, they’re shopping the app to companies for more effective health and wellness programs for their employees.
The B2B route is part of Nudge’s plan to get users to stick with their goals of getting healthy. Companies can pay for accounts for their employees, who are then put onto teams compete with each other to rack up points. Thus, the gamification.
Users get points for all interactions with the Nudge system, including the logging of unhealthy actions like smoking or drinking. “The research shows that if people are honest or aware about how much they’re doing, they’re likely to do less of it, so we encourage people to log those items,” co-founder and CEO Mac Gambill says.
The most important element of Nudge is its simplicity to enter healthy (or unhealthy) activity. There are no calorie count dictionaries to wade through–logging a simple action takes 10 seconds. You mark simplified records of your diet, such as servings of vegetables or meat you’ve eaten, glasses of water you’ve drank, exercise you’ve performed, or junk food you’ve snacked on. The idea is that Nudge doesn’t focus on a big goal of losing 20 pounds, but on tracking daily habits so users can see how their daily habits make them feel. “We think simple health awareness can lead to big changes in peoples’ lives,” Gambill says.
Nudge has been in beta with one client and will open up to 10 more businesses with a reduced rate as it iterates on its first version. Beta testers pay $2 per user per month; that might increase as the company opens its services. It’s not rocket science why a company would be on board–health costs for employers are a pain point and often they get discounts on insurance for health and wellness programs.
Nudge is currently built in HTML5, so its compatible with desktop and all mobile devices, but eventually the company may roll out native apps.
The company was created by three first-time entrepreneurs, including a former trainer (Gambill) and semi-pro soccer player (President Phil Beene). They’ve been working on the idea with their CTO Chris Garson since they came up with it a year ago.
Earlier this year they participated in Chattanooga’s Gig Tank contest, which bills itself “part startup accelerator, part think tank, part contest,” and awards companies up to $100,000. Chattanooga has been promoting itself as a new startup hub thanks to its intense bandwidth situation: It’s the first US city with 1 Gigabit-per-second fiber internet service availability.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]