June 10, 2013
Brett and Dave
What’s GoalSponsors and how does it work?
GoalSponsors (GS) is a monetization platform for 2.1M+ health practitioners (i.e. therapists, personal trainers, nutritionists, etc.) to privately coach and manage clients at scale. This includes lead gen, online payments, scheduling, communication and back office automation tools to instantly grow their business virtually and realize the $105B in revenue they could be making, but not, in between in-office appointments.
For their clients, this means on-demand, personalized guidance from their ideal expert across any of their devices, globally.
Right now, our website and app enable mental health professionals, personal trainers, nutritionists, dietitians and more to privately coach and manage virtual clients across all their devices (phone calls, texts, email), instead of or in addition to in-person appointments.
The platform consists of a web dashboard for client management, a mobile app for on-the-go communication, and targeted brand pages designed to turn prospective leads into paying virtual clients.
On the web dashboard, practitioners send and schedule personalized advice and reminders to clients’ email or mobile phones, as well as collaborate on shared documents (such as food logs or shopping lists).
The mobile app gives clients on-demand access to their practitioner through daily check-ins, chat and calls and the “need help” button. Clients upload and share photo evidence with their practitioner (such as a picture of their weight on a scale if they’re among the 80% of our users who are trying to lose weight) and the app tracks their progress.
The platform also takes care of administrivia for practitioners, handling all payments and scheduling.
How do you make sure GoalSponsors are capable of helping others? Is there a scrutiny for new applicants?
Great question! Yes. Right now practitioners who want to be displayed on GoalSponsors (our consumer facing site and app) complete an online application which includes certifications, testimonials and publications. We then review each one by hand and contact them. We monitor their first few weeks on the platform to ensure they are responsive to new clients.
What do you think motivates GoalSponsors to help others? Is it just about money?
For great practitioners, it’s not just about money. Great practitioners want to see their clients succeed. Some already work informally with clients outside of appointments (the occasional text or phone call) because they truly care, but these interactions aren’t structured and they’re not getting paid for it.
Practitioners want to increase their revenue of course, and our tools to help them do this, but more than that, they want to effectively help people. Our tools enables them to be there in the moments clients need them most — between appointments or in moments of doubt and weakness. We enable them to touch their clients across all their devices, all the time. It’s an “always on” system instead of binary “on” “off” system. We believe this is the future of coaching and care, and our motivated sponsors completely agree.
How did you come up with the idea?
My cofounder and I approached the same idea from different angles.
I teach yoga as hobby and always wished there was a structured way to connect and coach my students beyond our once a week class. Students come to me after class with various health questions, but there’s never the time or space (literally, because the next class was starting) for me to connect with them. I wished there were an easy-to-use platform where they could find me, that wasn’t my personal email.
Dave managed to lose 50 pounds (which is so awesome), but it was a long road. He found that even working out with a personal trainer 3 times a week was ineffective, because between appointments he was eating crappy food mindlessly and wasn’t being held accountable to anyone. He craved always-on support and accountability with a real person.
We think people’s relationship with a health practitioner should be fluid and easy, so more people can get affordable, convenient, preventative care. Hence, GoalSponsors was born.
Who’s behind the startup?
I’ve always strived to work at the intersection of technology and fitness. I started my career in the gaming world (Dave worked in gaming as well, so this is something we share). I designed mass-market fitness games for both Wii and Kinect at Ubisoft for several years before working in start-ups. I loved the entrepreneurial culture, so after two years of learning the ropes at a start-up doing both BD and UX, I wanted to create a company that empowered incredible coaches to have a greater impact on people through technology. For school, I went to NYU Tisch, where I studied Design & Narrative for Electronic Games. My primary hobby is yoga. I’m so into it, I teach once a week at a studio in San Francisco and I avidly post free yoga classes on youtube. I’ve even taught the Yoglers group at Google several times, which has been incredibly fun. I currently live in San Francisco.
I went to CMU (CS/HCI/Voice) and then Stanford (HCI) and have been living in Mountain View since. After being a product manager on Gmail, I had the confidence to start a company on my own. I ran product at both Raptr and Inform, and helped grow Raptr’s user base from 30k to 10M+ before bootstrapping my first start-up, which generated $100K last year. My personal struggle with weight-loss fueled my vision for GoalSponsors. I want to give the world something I’ve always wanted, and I believe business can be guided by a moral compass to indeed make the world a better place. In terms of hobbies, I do volleyball, poker, and video gaming every week – RTS games like Starcraft 2 and RPG/MMO games in stints. :)
How did you guys find/meet each other?
We met through the website FoundingDating, but realized after meeting that we also have a lot of common friends. There’s actually an article about how we met and our cofounding process here.
Why did you decide to go down the startup-route instead of keeping your 9-5 job?
Freedom, and the opportunity to work on something we’re truly passionate about that’s making the world a better place.
Are you guys angel funded or VC backed already? If not, are you looking to raise money and what expertise would you require from an investor?
We raised a small angel round from Larry Braitman and a few others (on track to raise more) and we’re working with First Floor Labs. We’re looking for investors who are passionate about health/fitness and behavioral change through mobile devices.
Unlike many companies in this space, we’re focused on the human element. Research proves the best way for humans to make permanent behavioral change is through accountability to another human, not a device. By focusing on non-medical health practitioners to start, we avoid HIPAA, FDA, and insurance regulations. The key metric we track is revenue, and we’ve had 64% average monthly revenue growth since releasing our MVP in November. 5% of our mobile users become a paying customer, and 50% of them subscribe for 3+ months and growing. Anyone interested in learning more can go to goalsponsors.com/invest
How do you think how world would be if we would all start coaching each other? Would we unlock a massive potential in our society, today hidden?
Yes! Practitioners are losing $105B in missed opportunity revenue because they can’t monetize clients beyond in-person physical office appointments – we call this the “monetization deadzone”. The majority of practitioners is geo-limited, struggle with marketing and can’t scale. They lack an on-demand virtual office and cross platform collaboration tools to fill their schedule with clients.
Meanwhile, clients are desperate for affordable, personalized help and accountability. They often can’t find the right expert locally and spend weeks searching the web. There are over 100M monthly searches for health-related issues right now. And, to connect with an expert around these issues can take weeks, require travel, and rarely involve help beyond in-person office appointments that cost $100+/hr.
Everyone would be happier and healthier if these two parties connected (not to mention health care costs would go down.)
We see a future in which clients and practitioners communicate fluidly across all their devices. We write about this a lot on our blog, where there are also images of our v2 mobile app coming out around June 1. And yes, friends can coach each other too. People also use our mobile app for peer-to-peer accountability. We know behavioral change occurs through accountability to another human being; it’s way more effective this way than through a device or app alone, and our platform streamlines and scales this human connection.
PS – we’re hiring! :)