It has been two years since Ignition Partners backed Adam Bosworth’s stealthy consumer health startup Keas. But the London-born entrepreneur, who was famously accused of violating a non-compete agreement when he left Microsoft to form the startup Crossgain in 2000, is taking the wraps off the San Francisco-based startup today. The idea? Keas uses game mechanics and positive peer pressure to make your office mates healthier.
“We’ve found that turning health and wellness into a game for people results in massively increased engagement and improved health behaviors,” said Bosworth, who previously ran Google Health.
That reminds me a bit of a young upstart right here in Seattle which is pursuing a similar concept. Former Amazon.com developer Buster Benson has been working on Health Month, a Web-based game that offers a way to turn diet plans and fitness routines into month-long contests.
Keas works much the same way, deploying game mechanics to achieve health and fitness goals. In early tests with customers such as Pfizer and Quest Diagnostics, the company said that the average engagement level among employees stood at a whopping 70 percent.
Keas is part of the whole gamification trend of Web sites, a topic that we’ve discussed at length here at GeekWire. [See previous story and podcast: "Keith Smith, BigDoor CEO, on the economics and future of gamification"]
Based in San Francisco, Keas has some big time supporters in its corner. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is an advisor, noting in a release that Keas’ new game makes employee health programs “as easy and fun as Zynga and Facebook.” Former Microsoft executive Brad Silverberg from Ignition Partners is a member of the board.
In addition to Ignition, Atlas Venture has backed the startup with about $10 million.
Robert Scoble has a detailed interview with Bosworth in which the technology executive recounts how he was responsible for one of Steve Ballmer’s chair throwing tirades and explains how Keas made an early mistake by trying to create a new platform. “You should never start a Web product thinking like a platform problem,” said Bosworth, adding that many Americans need a product like Keas in order to stay healthy.