So you’ve walked 10,000 steps or you’ve earned 6,000 Nike Fuel points. Now what?
After all, it’s just a number on a screen. Which is enough motivation for some, says Russell Benaroya, the CEO and co-founder of EveryMove. But for the rest of us, it’s hard to stay motivated from just pure data.
Benaroya, an ultramathoner himself, built EveryMove, not so much as a fitness tracker, but as a fitness aggregator. The website and partnering mobile app allows you to sync any of your fitness tracking gadgets into one spot. Then fitness brands, your boss, and even your health insurance can partner with EveryMove to offer real perks that will keep you moving.
There’s a ton of fitness tracking apps and gadgets in the wild. What is the real benefit of EveryMove? How is different from your run-of-the mill app or pedometer?
What we are trying to do is have a mainstream mass market appeal for fitness tracking devices and move away from that early adopter individual. On one side of the marketplace, you have health plans interested in building a new kind of relationship with an individual. That's to engage them in living an active lifestyle. So you could provide benefits in the form of gift cards from your health plan or reductions in your premium or copay.
On the other side of the marketplace you have employers who are interested in driving the culture of health. That could be an employer offering rewards in the form of gift cards or rewards like a PTO day or a deposit in your health savings account. We have literally unified all of your fitness activity all in one place, and then we help you build that personalized network around you, designed to provide you with recognition and awards for being healthy.
Does this actually work? Are people staying motivated from receiving tangible benefits?
Herein lies the complexity of behavioral psychology; tangible rewards don’t necessarily work for everyone. Within the EveryMove experience you have to find the triggers of intrinsic motivation and intrinsic validation to support their ongoing engagement with the service. So things like: I can connect to my friends on EveryMove that I might work with, I can achieve new levels on EveryMove. I can unlock badges in EveryMove, there’s a leaderboard, I can comment on people's activities. We have to find different ways to motivate both intrinsically and extrinsically to drive continued engagement.
So how did you dream up the original idea in the first place?
Prior to EveryMove I ran a traditional healthcare business where we operated sleep medicine clinics to diagnose and treat sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Sadly a majority of the people that come into a sleep clinic are obese, diabetic, or pre-diabetic and typically have a heart condition. And after we sold the business in 2009, I thought to myself, ‘it’s great serving patients for whom we are trying to get on a better trajectory of health, but wouldn’t it be great if we could better use technology to reach individuals before they find themselves having to come to a sleep clinic?’ Originally we had thought about creating an app that helps gameify fitness, which is a very simple idea and maybe a bit laughable now as we look back.
Why is that laughable?
I think it’s somewhat laughable now because it’s a busy marketplace, there are thousands and thousands of apps that are trying to affect behavior change and gameification is a way to affect behavior change. The reality is behavior change is very, very complicated and there is no silver bullet. And so what’s laughable is that we would think that we would have the answer.
We didn't believe we would necessarily have the answer, so we thought ‘let’s let all these other apps and devices figure out how to trigger behavior change at the app level and we will be surface layer that sits on top of it.’
As the name implies, you guys try to track every move a person makes. What are some of the strangest things a person can officially track on your site?
We haven’t added prancersize to our workout list. We did have somebody that was a very avid juggler so we have juggling on there. Interestingly enough, some of the most popular actives you might consider fairly mundane – like walking the dog or doing housework or vacuuming – are some of our most popular. What we are trying to do is align with people where they’re at in their life. We have this term ‘come as you are.’ We are going to be there to support you.
What is your measure of success?
My personal motto that I affirm every day is that the journey is the destination. So I have been very careful about measuring success as a final, ultimate goal. My measure of success is, am I getting up everyday excited about what I’m doing? If I’m grateful and ready to take on the day – that is the most important measurement for me because being an entrepreneur, there are tremendous ups and downs. If you get too focused on some ultimate goal you may be setting yourself up for failure.