Rewarding Your Health

Consumer incentive programs have been successfully implemented across industries, says Goutham Bhadri ’09, so why not apply the same strategy to fighting obesity?
September 15, 2009
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If you could earn prizes for working out, you’d work out more, right?

That’s the premise behind Switch2Health (S2H), a start-up that rewards people for physical activity. Consumer incentive programs have been successfully implemented across industries, notes Goutham Bhadri ’09 (right), so why not apply the same strategy to the battle against obesity?

Here’s how it works. Participants receive an “S2H KINETIC” or "S2H REPLAY" — digital devices that are worn like bracelets. The devices register and record moderate to intensive leveals of physical activity like running, dancing and tennis. After 60 minutes of physical activity, it displays a code that can be entered online for S2H points, which can be exchanged for such rewards as DVDs, movie tickets and cell phone ringtones. Companies can brand their own S2H KINETIC and direct traffic to their Web site or a microsite designed for them; and consumers who reveal a code from the S2H REPLAY earn and accumulate points on S2H’s Web site.

Bhadri joined the company earlier this month as a result of the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology’s Entrepreneur Fellowship Program, which provides funding to select startups to hire an MBA for two years. “What I love about the company is that it combines entrepreneurial and social aspects,” says Bhadri, who serves as director of business development. “There’s nothing that motivates you more than knowing that you’re making a difference in people’s lives while launching a successful product.”

With the debate on healthcare reform focusing on costs, many underscore the need for initiatives that influence people to exercise more and make better food choices. Earlier this year, federal lawmakers considered a tax on soda and other sugary drinks. “Instead of trying to punish people for making ‘bad’ choices or being obese,” says Bhadri, “we want to reward them for being healthy. We feel that this is how most consumers would like to be treated.”

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