On October 21, 2009, Ranjan Das, MD and CEO of SAP, India, died of a cardiac arrest. His death came as a shock to everyone. It also led to a startling revelation of the stress levels of employees at the workplace.
Unfortunately, not much has changed since. Companies are still losing revenue because of unhealthy workforce. Health issues results in loss of employee motivation, and increase in stress levels. Though people are concerned about their health, the reason most health programs don't work are because of lack of willpower to bring about an active change in habits.
To solve this problem of engaging employees to adopt healthy habits and making sure they follow it, Avinash Saurabh and his friends Anandraj KS and Moovendan came together to start ZooJoo.be.
Avinash met Anand at a Microsoft startup meet, and the chemistry clicked. Anand had a development firm in Chennai and Moovendan was working with him in Chennai and joined them later. ZooJoo.be is a cloud-based enterprise wellness platform which uses gamification to engage people in healthy habits. It has a diet and nutrition tracker which contains small challenges like drink X glasses of water a day, or use stairs today. People can even create their own challenges or challenge their co-workers and managers. The rewards can be customized by the employees.
Though ZooJoo.be is certainly an interesting name, a lot of thought has gone behind choosing this name. Avinash narrates the story behind it.
"The name is inspired from Rajnikanth’s famous dialogue: ‘Yena Raskalla, jujube.’ Zoojoo.be is a variant of the original word ‘jujube’ whose colloquial meaning is ‘it’s easy’. Rajnikanth says this dialogue to indicate how easy it was for him to defeat the bad guy. We wanted our users to feel the same and that they can easily over come wellness challenges.”
The psychology behind ZooJoo.be is that peer-to-peer motivation works better than most forms of online rewards and this is why they have incorporated many aspects of offline motivation allowing people to challenge, cheer and reward their colleagues who sit in the next cubicle.
The platform is mainly B2B2C, which essentially means that they cater to companies and charge them on per client basis. They have MindTree as their first client and have over 12,000+ registered users. The fact that returning users are spending 25% more time on the platform than their earlier sessions speaks volumes about the engagement which the platform offers.
At present, they are incubated at NSRCEL in IIM Bangalore. Avinash shares a very interesting anecdote about how they got selected into NSRCEL.
"We were the last startup to pitch in front of the screening committee at IIM Bangalore for the incubation. Moreover, the previous companies had overshot their time and we had just seven minutes of the allocated 15 minutes left to us. Halfway during the presentation, Sanjay Anandam, who was on the screening committee, stopped us and said: ‘Ok, we got what you are doing and that people are ready to pay you for that. But since you are running a wellness company can you do 20 pushups.’ Instead of saying ‘yes, I can,’ I immediately dropped on the floor and did 25 pushups! Everyone started laughing and praised our energy. A week later, we were informed that we were the only startup selected from that batch."
Avinash says his biggest strength has been his let's do it attitude. This has helped him sail through most of his apprehensions. "It’s important even when you are thinking about quitting your job and starting up. The point is that even if you quit your job, you never lose your employability. You can always go back after a year and get a job. But if you don’t quit now, you will never know what you can truly achieve," Avinash adds.