When you think of fitness apps and web services, you think of your SportsTrackers and your Endomondos — services designed to spit out raw statistics to help you better tailor your workouts. For some reason I’ve always somewhat compared HeiaHeia to these services, but doing so was like comparing Angry Birds to a flight simulator. HeiaHeia considers itself a casual wellness solution in the same sense as the term “casual gaming,” the company focuses on low barriers to entry.
The service is more of an open platform, more general purpose, and hits the casual wellness population who want to keep track of and share their workouts to stay motivated, but not necessarily be the athletes who need to know what their top speed was going up that hill. CEO Jussi Räisänen tells us the sports tracking services are great, “I really like the technology they’ve developed, but it’s for a different use case.” HeiaHeia has now started promoting two aspects of their service: their B2B angle and their API.
We’ve covered HeiaHeia many times in the past, but if you’re not familiar with it, the service works by allowing user to pick a target amount of hours, number of exercises, kilometers, or even steps, and then keep track of their physical activity. The service wasn’t gamified too much by design, but instead uses social features and “cheers” to each other to keep users focused. The statistics and graphs also provide a hook for coming back, especially the large activity meter that lets you know how well you’re hitting your weekly activity goal.
The service is flexible enough to include activities anywhere from berry picking to indoor cycling, allowing nearly any age group or fitness level to share their workouts and interact with each other through social features.
HeiaHeia has seen solid growth in Finland. They claim 130 000 users in the country, or roughly 5% of the working population. Speaking of which, HeiaHeia is now focusing on a new enterprise angle for companies who wish to get their employees into healthy habits so they can lower costs related to healthcare. This is apparently a huge concern for corporations as inactivity costs to workplaces range anywhere between hundreds to thousands of euros yearly per employee.
A Jyväskylä University thesis estimated sick leave costs attributed to physical inactivity are €400 million annually in Finland alone, and these measurements generally measure only direct sick days, not indirect costs like productivity, chronic diseases, and obesity. Finnish companies also spend an average of over €100 a year on physical activity promotion per employee, giving the company already a large target market.
HeiaHeia’s B2B service breaks down companies or offices into teams and focus on a common goal, like the company hits 400 hours of exercise in a month a certain amount of money will be donated to charity. Räisänen says they built the service so the companies running the program can’t even see who has been working out and who hasn’t, because the idea of an “Orwellian big brother” service is not appealing to employees. It also shifts the company from rewarding the triathletes in the office who would be working out hours a day anyway.
Users can join the B2B product though their normal HeiaHeia account, allowing them to still keep the social features while still participating with their company.
Customers piloting the B2B service already include Teliasonera, and GE healthcare Finland, signifying the service scales up to serving thousands of employees easily while still being a good fit for smaller offices. The Finnish retail chain, Tokmani, has used HeiaHeia in their 140 stores, having each store competing against each other.
HeiaHeia also recently started promoting their documented API, which allows developers to make apps or services based off of the HeiaHeia product. Their website is mobile optimized, but after a developer requested API access to build his own app the team decided to document and open up the API for anyone to build services off of.
CEO Räisänen says “Our philosophy is to make the fun service available to anyone. We also believe there are fantastic developers out there who can do wonders on mobile, so we go for what’s also known as the ‘Twitter strategy’.”
Currently there are six apps out on a number of platforms. This openness really turns HeiaHeia into more of a platform than just a narrow service, and it can potentially better serve segments of users, such as an app made for women who like to play basketball.
With almost the same methodology as their API, HeiaHeia allows fitness professionals to build their own fitness programs into the service.