It’s great time to take the first step with your New Year’s resolution to exercise more, before you give up and forget it like you did last year. At least I did. Moozement, a Finnish startup offering a simplified training log for sharing your activities with friends, has rebranded itself and become HeiaHeia (see my previous interview with one of the founders here). “Heia! Heia!”, pronounced similarly to “Hey ya, Hey ya”, is a Norwegian sports chant.
The company states that the key driver for the development of the service has been to create a sports service which anybody could use with her or his friends – not just the devotees of a particular sport or the users of certain technical gear or the fans of a given brand.
The founders, Ivan Kuznetsov and Olli Oksanen, are both ex-Nokiates who took the infamous ‘package’ when Nokia started offering it to its employees to slim down the organization. HeiaHeia is one of the first startups that emerge from stealth mode, which has its roots in the Nokia package. I know there’s other startups coming with a similar origin. I have even heard some people say that with the package, Nokia has done more to the Finnish startup scene than Tekes. I’m not sure about that, but it has certainly given a possibility for many people with long careers in Nokia of a runway of a year to year and a half to play around with their ideas before the reality hits and they need to start thinking about salary.
In addition to taking the Nokia package, Oksanen told me that the company has also used another source of capital, friends, fools and family. Along with the founders working on the service, they have a few developers in southern Russia and a sweat equity deal with a designer.
The rebranding of the service was a really smart thing that I’d like to see more startups do. With Moozement, launched in Dec 2008, they got to see what features people use and what not and they still got a fresh new launch in Jan 2009 with HeiaHeia and didn’t have to worry about pre-formed opinions of Moozement or lost brand equity and mindshare. Very leanstartup-esque!
What they figured out is that with such a service the key is not the distance and the date or time when logging entries, but the first thing that a user writes in the notes (think status in Twitter). The notes will be pulled into your status and shared in your feed. As Oksanen said, ‘In the terms of Jyri Engeström, we use this little trick to pull the notes into a social object’. Smart, but will that be enough to lure people to come back to the serivce? I still haven’t made up my mind, but time will tell.
If the company was smart with the rebranding move, they have also learned something else at Nokia (which might surprise some giving the giant’s current condition). HeiaHeia’s business model is build around super targeted advertising, licencing, premium features and affiliate sales. Altogether it’s a well defined niche with lots of possibilities.
In HeiaHeia I especially like the approach of going with a few well thought out views instead of letting users slice and dice their data every single way where the service would only become laborious to use. It will be interesting to see how well the company will execute the combining of the training diary, social games and social network in the long run. I, for one, will give it a shot with my training.