A finance major from the University of Georgia takes a job in investment banking after graduation, gets pouched by client he represented for a merger, falls in love with a new industry and now finds himself running his startup out of PayPal Start Tank.
Wellable delivers customizable, high-engagement, and affordable wellness programs for employers. It was Nick Patel's (Wellable's President) time working at healthcare company, TriZetto, when he realized an opportunity and that entrepreneurial bug came crawling.
Patel, a self-described active individual, had only worked in large companies during his career, all of which had wellness programs implemented. Being active and fit on his own, he wasn’t one that needed these programs to incentivize him to exercise. However, he was open to reaping the rewards that come with them.
This is where Patel began to see the problem.
Patel told me one scenario where he needed his doctor to sign and fax specific paperwork. That was just one of many friction points, like company programs not being sync’d up with the likes of RunKeeper or Fitbit.
Essentially, these programs took too much effort for employees to get involved and it would leave companies falling short of their wellness goals.
In November of 2012, Patel quit his job and began tackling his wellness solution. By May of 2013, he had recruited Cole Bolskey to join him and their first version was being tested by friends and family that summer.
Fast forward to November of 2014, after a live pilot version had been in use, Patel struck up a partnership with The Clinton Foundation to lessen health disparities between socioeconomic and racial groups, by offering health and wellness apps to people in participating communities.
Patel spoke a lot about the importance of this partnership, one that certainly couldn’t have been easy to land for such an early stage company. Patel will tell you he got a bit lucky… I’d say he did what a determined entrepreneur would do – make the tough phone calls to the far-fetched prospects and spin a good sales pitch.
Wellable is a full service solution for companies seeking a wellness program and while Patel intends to target larger corporations in the future, he tells me the focus is on small and medium-sized business now, as they have the larger need.
“Most large companies,” Patel said, “have a dedicated person or team to implement and manage an internal wellness campaign. Small companies don’t have those resources.”
Patel has taken his previous experiences (problems) and utilized them to make Wellable a seamless offering. Working with HR teams or benefit consultants, an email is sent off to every employee to begin a quick, one-time onboarding process.
Patel stressed the one-time activation. With popular wearable and fitness apps sync’d to Wellable, all an employee needs to do is connect their favorite apps once and Wellable will track their activity accordingly.
Patel and his team work closely with the companies to build out specific campaigns, even handling the rewards.
Company X provides a specific budget and Wellable structures the challenges, goals, campaigns and rewards (all approved by the client), which could be gifts cards to Whole Foods or sporting goods stores with which Wellable has partnerships already in place.
As a full-service solution Wellable administers the entire process equating to high retention rates for the startup.
Additional features offered are options like health and fitness tips, which are signed off by Wellable’s staff MD. Research from the University of Kansas, Patel tells me, showed this type of info was desired among consumers, but it needed to be credible and easily accessible.
So, along with their in-house MD, Wellable implemented an opt-in text function in October. Since then, they’ve actually had clients sign on to specifically utilize this option only.
As of now Wellable is a 7-person team, a mix of full and part-time. They’ve raised $150,000 to date and Patel tells me he is in the process of securing an additional $150k to bridge the gap to some major contracts and developments coming in the new year.
As we sat inside the PayPal Start Tank, I asked Patel what his experience has been like:
“It’s awesome… The companies here are amazing and the environment brings out the best in all of us. The connections and network of people we’re granted access to is invaluable.”
I asked David Chang to share his thoughts on Wellable’s progress thus far and where he envisions them going:
“Since being accepted, Wellable has made great progress . They have launched the first of four community programs with the Clinton Foundation, started generating revenue, and raised funding from a leading angel. Overall, I’m most excited about what the Wellable team is doing in improving the health and wellness of thousands of employees. I can’t wait to see that number hit 10,000, 100,000, 1M!”
The health and fitness space has seen so much activity over the years. it’s hard to keep track of it as a consumer, never mind a company. It’s great to see someone enter the space from a different angle - working with the existing players, benefitting both businesses and consumers, while also appealing to insurance companies and government regulations.
A lot of potential for Patel and his team.
We’ll keep an eye on their progress and if you see an email come through the inbox from HR regarding your new Wellable company wellness program, let us hear about it!
Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid and keep up with his latest posts by signing up for the VentureFizz Weekly Email!