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I never thought playing the lottery would help improve one’s physical fitness. But that’s the idea behind KardioFit, a Bellevue startup that’s announcing $500,000 in financing today from angels including former SurveyMonkey CEO Ryan Finley and former UnitedHealth Group exec John Blank.

The company has designed a method by which employees or individuals can be entered into weekly sweepstakes for completing health and wellness goals, potentially winning up to $1 million. During the first eight months of operation, the company has already doled out $85,000 to KardioFit members, who pay between $10 per month and $22 per month for membership.

KardioFit is the latest in a long line of startups that are trying to utilize game mechanics to get people off the couch — exercising and eating better. (We’ve written a lot about this sector in recent months, including players like FitBitLiftBudgeEveryMove, Cody and Keas).

Obviously, there’s no shortage of competition. So, I asked KardioFit founder Jim Miller, an experienced Seattle area entrepreneur who previously founded uTango and ReFlex Communications, what makes KardioFit different.

For one, he said they filed a patent in 2009 for combining a diet, fitness and chronic disease management platform with a sweepstakes.  It also offers an integrated, coaching platform that allows insurers to manage high-risk employees, coaching them through things such as chronic disease or weight loss.

“Ultimately, competition is inevitable, especially in a market as significant as ours and one with such important economic ramifications,” said Miller. “In the end, people do business with people they like and we plan to take better care of our customers than any of our competitors…a’ la the Nordstrom model.”

In addition to today’s funding announcement, KardioFit has formed an advisory board that includes Dr. David L. Katz, MD, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and Editor-in- Chief of the Childhood Obesity Journal; Joy Bauer, a nutrition and health expert who often appears on NBC’s The Today Show; Jim Kean, founder of WellnessFX and the former president of Sapient Health Network; Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, Director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; and others.

Here’s Miller explaining the system.


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