GoalHawk helps people achieve -- its young founder included

By Richard Nieva , written on January 7, 2013

From The News Desk

We're about a week into the new year, and you may have already failed on your resolution to lose weight or quit smoking. Last week, I wrote about another website that hat solicited New Year’s resolutions from entrepreneurs. That idea was novel, but the biggest problem was that there was no real accountability to hold people to their goals. GoalHawk hopes to fix that problem. The service is based on helping people achieve long-term personal goals, from losing weight to learning how to code to anything else they might think of.

While those might be things typically associated with fleeting New Year’s promises, Mark Daniel, the company's 18-year-old cofounder, insists these are real goals people pursue regardless of the time of year.

When a user goes to the site, they can choose from two different main categories: fitness or programming (or a custom goal, but more on that later). They can then pick a goal, like "lose 50 pounds." Daniel says he believes the two parts that go into achieving a goal are motivation and information. To tackle the information part, GoalHawk has partnered with and Code Academy, both free online resources that offer regimented plans to users. GoalHawk sources content from both sites. For example, a user looking to get fitter can pick anything from a light to hardcore plan and work off of that.

For the motivation part, a user then picks a number of “hawks” from his Facebook friends to monitor his progress. Those people then become like sponsors, and every time you don’t meet a daily goal, they are notified. Daniel says the company will be releasing an iOS app within the next week or so, which will allow a user to check off their daily goal immediately after they have completed it.

Outside of those organized plans, a user can create a customized goal. Sticking with the fitness theme, a personalized one might be, “walk three times a week” or “swim 20 laps a day.” The operation around these customized goals is simpler: If, on one week, you only go for two walks (honor system!), your hawks find out. What’s noticeably missing is the informational aspect. There is no plan to get you to your daily goal. Daniel admits the company needs to work on this, and says that maybe in the future he will open the platform to different experts to solicit their own plans. Or, he says, perhaps a user can fill in their own plan, based on their own set of circumstances.

Daniel also admits that he and his cofounder, Sumukh Sridhara, missed the boat on capitalizing on New Year’s, partly because Sridhara was in India for the holiday break. They just today pushed out the domain to wring out whatever New Year’s bump they can get.

But perhaps the most interesting part of GoalHawk’s story is the internal one. Daniel is a young entrepreneur still sorting through his own goals, and it's fitting that he runs a website that helps people with theirs.

Both founders just finished their first semesters of college – Daniel at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Sridhara at UC Berkeley. While the site is growing – Daniel says they are up to 10,000 goals overall – neither has plans to drop out of school and pursue the website full time. I recently interviewed another your entrepreneur, 18-years-old as well, who had forgone college to run his ecommerce operation Swapidy.

For Daniel, he sees the value in learning from the college experience, which gives him the opportunity to do things like engage in group work and social interactions. “I can count on my hands the number of teen founders who are ready at 17 and 18 to run a company,” he says, describing other young founders who drop out to go all in on their companies.

When I spoke to Daniel today, he was in Nashville, Tennessee, at home for winter break until the end of January. He says balancing education and work has brought about the most emotional stress, and returning later this month will be difficult. Still, his aim to soak in the college life is resolute, though it will make his entrepreneurial goal harder still to accomplish. Perhaps GoalHawk can help.

[Image courtesy: Matt Brittaine]