How Far, How Fast, How Fit?
Shelton’s FitLinxx is regulating divided from a container with a little wellness and activity monitors
By Karen Singer
Dave Monahan tries to travel or run 3 miles a day. He keeps lane of his swell with a Pebble, a wearable wireless tool somewhat incomparable than a quarter, that measures his stride, distance, active mins and calories burned. Tapping it several times gives him present feedback with a flourishing clockwise arrangement of little pulsating LED lights that all light adult in a round when he’s reached his daily goal. He logs onto a website for some-more minute data.
Monahan is CEO of FitLinxx, that combined a Pebble and other wireless activity-tracking and health-monitoring inclination used especially in corporate wellness programs.
“Initially, when we went into a marketplace it was a lot about shortening health-care costs,” Monahan explains. “It still is, though as important, if not some-more important, is employers know that by improving somebody’s health, employees are some-more productive.”
FitLinxx works with some-more than 50 partners, including WebMD, National Jewish Health and U.S. Preventive Medicine, that customize a products for businesses and individuals.
Headquartered in Shelton, FitLinxx has 70 employees, investigate and expansion operations in Westborough, Mass. and offices in a Netherlands and a UK.
On Feb 6, FitLinxx announced a activity monitors had logged some-more than 100 billion stairs — adequate to travel to a moon some-more than 250 times and bake 6 billion calories.
Cornell University roommates Andy Greenberg and Keith Camhi started FitLinxx in 1993, with a examination tracking complement for strength and cardio gym equipment.
“I was in physics, he was in mechanism science, and we fell in adore with record and function change for health,” says Greenberg, now comparison clamp boss of offered and product expansion for GlobalFit, a FitLinxx partner providing wellness programs for businesses. “Incentives change anywhere from income into your payroll to T-shirts and present cards, to elementary approval for group challenges.
“We’ve seen conspicuous results,” Greenberg adds. “Companies typically customarily get a tiny commission of [employees] for wellness or smoking-cessation programs, customarily one percent. With a programs, 50 percent rivet and 6 months after signing adult 75 percent of them are still doing it.”
Gyms sojourn a partial of FitLinxx’s business, according to Monahan, who assimilated a association in 2006 from Microsoft, where among other jobs he ran a sales group in Washington targeting a corporate market. “We were focused on partners and with assisting them build applications and solutions,” he says.
Monahan saw intensity for a identical proceed in a health, wellness and aptness market.
He spent his initial 6 months during FitLinxx “looking during opposite options” for a association to enhance over examination monitors accessed by gym users.
The monitors are “still out there, in about 450 facilities, and we have had unequivocally good traction with wellness centers, sanatorium centers and YMCAs,” Monahan says. “But it’s not a expansion business. “What we identified was we indispensable to find new technology, and rise it or buy it.”
Tom Blackadar had a record he was seeking.
In 1997, Blackadar, founded a association called FitSense to develop an accelerometer (motion-detecting sensor) measuring calories burnt formed on a volume of time a feet is on a belligerent and off a ground. Reebock used a innovation, he says, in Traxtar, a children’s jaunty shoe launched in a late 1990s to lane regulating and jumping.
FitSense subsequently grown a FS-1, a wristband wirelessly monitoring speed, stretch and heart rate.
“That kept us alive while a lot of companies went away,” Blackadar says. “Then we started relocating toward health care. we wanted to get into worker wellness programs.”
The appearance of consumer destined health caring paved a way, with a dramatization in 2003 of sovereign legislation formulating Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Individuals lonesome by these high-deductible health plans, and their family members, can make tax-deductible contributions for subordinate medical expenses. Employers also can make HSA contributions not taxable to them or their employees.
FitSense polished a wireless tradition operative on medical inclination for other companies and “built a initial height for collecting information that would uncover adult on a Web regardless of a entrance point,” Blackadar explains. “We stable it in correspondence with HIPAA laws (providing sovereign safeguards for personal health information).”
FitSense also combined a ActiPed, a tiny wireless activity guard that clips onto an jaunty shoe.
Blackadar contacted FitLinxx in tumble 2006, anticipating to seductiveness a association in his products.
“I met with Dave [Monahan] in October,” he says. “By Nov we had a minute of vigilant to combine a companies, that took about 6 months. We had a same vision, and got along usually famously.”
Blackadar became arch record officer of FitLinxx.
“Bringing a companies together arrange of led into where we are today,” Monahan says. “Our core is providing a inclination and information services to partners that build tradition applications to users. Some are assisting people remove weight; others concentration on worker health.”
WebMD, for example, uses FitLinxx’s Pebble and wireless weight scales.
“We sell a inclination to them and assign them a monthly cost formed on active users,” Monahan says. “They’re offered to a customer; we’re in a credentials providing information and services.
“We also have a lot of patents and egghead property, that we permit to companies like Nike, and we have other permit arrangements with medical evidence companies.
Monahan attributes as many as 75 percent of health costs to 3 bad habits –– smoking, not sportive and not eating right. “If we don’t help people get healthier,” he says, “that doesn’t change a problem.”
Blackadar credits Monahan with improvements to FitLinxx’s latest product: a Pebble, a waterproof activity tracker introduced in 2012. It can be ragged on a waistband, belt, slot or shoes and operates on a silver dungeon battery durability as prolonged as a year, depending on use.
“Dave has got a designer’s eye, and it’s roughly jewelry,” he says. “The Pebble knows if you’re runing, walking, biking or regulating an elliptical, and turns all into calories.
“We have it on all a vital joining umpires and a Boston Red Sox [players],” Blackadar adds.
Future versions of a Pebble will lane swimming and other activities, now logged as active minutes.
“I consider FitLinxx stands out as a unequivocally affordable, elementary good solution,” says Henry Albrect, CEO of Limeade, a FitLinxx partner assisting companies rivet their workforces in wellness activities compelling health and productivity. Clients embody tyro financial services association Nelnet and sporting products tradesman REI, whose CEO Sally Jewell is President Barack Obama’s hopeful for Interior Secretary.
“It unequivocally boils down to a price/value thing,” says Greg Nobel, arch expansion officer of Healthrageous, another FitLinxx partner. “There are some-more costly products like Fitbit, though we can get a Pebble for half a cost and roughly all a functionality.
“We take a appurtenance training record height found in Pandora and Netflix into a universe of health care,” Zobel explains. “Our primary business are vast health skeleton and vast employers. The proceed a height learns about we is by answers to questions or by information by inclination like a Pebble. Your activity information gets uploaded to a website where we see it displayed and get electronic coaching.”
The Pebble recently became accessible directly to consumers for $59 by a website launched by a new FitLinxx partner, Wellocracy, on Jan 8 during a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The latest wearable aptness tracking inclination were during a show, where FitLinxx common a counter with Qualcomm.
The marketplace for consumers shopping these devices, however, is “pretty limited,” according to Sarah Rotman Epps, a comparison researcher for Forrester Research. In a new report, she writes “wearables” such as Nike+ Fuelband and Fitbit (its latest wristband monitors sleep), interest to customarily 4 percent of U.S. online adults, or around 8 million people. These folk typically possess smartphones, welcome new technology, buy organic and suffer practice in their gangling time.
“FitLinxx has a unequivocally intersting business model; it’s B2B [business to business], and they’re usually meditative about offered to consumers,” Rotman Epps says. “They’re mostly focused around a workforce, that is drumming into a lot of unequivocally prohibited trends right now, including consumerization of health caring and all a problems of carrying workers usually lay during desks all day. There’s so many information out now on how that’s murdering all of us. The broader trend is what we can do with sensors.
FitLinxx has taken a opposite proceed by going to corporate partners, “which is smart,” adds Rotman Epps. “They seem to have a plain business model, with partners in a health-care space that help their products heed with a latest research.”
The plan appears to be working.
Funded by investors, a private association became essential around 3 years ago and hasn’t indispensable to lift new collateral in 4 years, according to Monahan.
“We’re unequivocally independent,” he says. “We’re not looking to lift capital, and usually reinvest income behind into a company. We’ve doubled a distance of a business in dual and a half years. This year we’re looking during 50-percent growth, and we consider we could get aloft than that.”
Monahan declines to give sum about association finances.
One spirit comes from a Connecticut Technology Council, that chose FitLinxx as one of a dozen module firms on a 2012 Marcum Tech Top 40 list of fastest flourishing record companies in a state. Selection is formed on income expansion over a many new 4 years, and authorised companies contingency have during slightest $50,000 in income in a initial year and $3 million in income in a fourth year.
FitLinxx also is carrying success regulating a Pebble to revoke a possess worker health word costs, with a corporate wellness module featuring an online focus to lane goals and an hour 3 days a week for wellness activity.
“We are eating a possess dog food, Monahan says. “We were confronting 20 percent increases each year [in health word premiums] and couldn’t do it any more.” The beginning began in 2010, when a association began charity consumer-directed health skeleton with HSAs. Fitlinxx contributes income to a HSAs of employees who grasp quarterly wellness objectives.
A FitLinxx box investigate reports a company’s annual health-care costs shrank 9 percent, from $500,000 to $455,000, and worker health-care premiums fell 29 percent, from $100,000 to $71,000. Other formula embody a 95-percent module appearance rate, 73-percent success rate and 13. 5 boost in daily activity time per employee.
Looking ahead, Blackadar sees opportunities in a home
“Ten thousand people each day are branch 65,” he says. “How do we make it such that wearing sensors is not your regard when we get adult in a morning, and make certain that a information that comes off them is useful and we don’t have to have your cellphone?”
Monahan expects “more of a same though better” in entrance years. “We’ve had a inclination out there for a lot of years, and keep changing and adjusting,” he says. “Our business are seeking for continued transparency, and to make it easy, elementary and give them some-more options where to place a device and ways of sauce it up. We have a unequivocally abounding set of information on a behind end.”
He now is exploring ways to work with health word companies and consumer providers.
“Four to 5 years ago we had to kick doors down,” Monahan says. “Now we have people entrance to us.”
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