The increased corporate interest in competition-based and socially-oriented wellness programs has resulted in more opportunities for firms who build and manage the online platforms that facilitate them.
Companies such as RallyOn, Keas, Hubbub Health, ShapeUp and Global Corporate Challenge have models that are rooted in these ideas. Virgin Group, Richard Branson’s venture capital organization, has moved into this area with its Virgin HealthMiles company. Aetna offers its members free access to games and apps from Mindbloom, and is in certain cases working with employers to help promote these tools to their employees.
At least one local start-up, District-based Cor, has entered the market. The firm, known until November as FitFeud, originally planned to market its Web-based, competition-focused platform directly to consumers. But the company’s chief executive, Nicholas Tolson, said they quickly realized that wasn’t the right approach.
Because many people receive health insurance through their employers and because they spend so much time at their offices, they felt it made sense to sell to companies, not individuals.
Plus, they determined that consumers might not want to shell out money to partake in a fitness challenge, but employers often have set budgets for wellness initiatives.
“We would go after the places that sort of have a pot of money set aside and see if we can get a piece of that,” Tolson said.
They also decided that competitions alone weren’t enough to make the platform fully engaging, so they added more communication tools and more education resources to make the product more comprehensive.
Currently, Tolson said his firm has five clients that represent 40,000 employees, and plans to try to grow its user base and its offerings further.
“We’ve all joined a gym and bought a workout DVD and it’s gathered dust,” Tolson said. With the social strategy, “we’ve identified the motivation piece.”