I've read you're on the right track with developing a software application if it solves some wicked problem in your daily life.
For me, getupandmove.me is just about the only system of outside accountability for healthier behaviors I've got.
Without the motivation factor provided by folks who know and love me on Twitter, there's no friggin' way I'd tear myself away from my laptop, business cards, and whiteboards to exercise between 15-30 minutes a day on any sort of regular basis.
Today my personal savior was @mklemme, who challenged me yesterday afternoon to run for 20 minutes.
20 minutes. Doesn't seem like a lot, does it?
But I dithered. I procrastinated. I told myself it was too cold last night. Then it was too wet and dark when I woke up this morning.
Finally, that unfinished challenge just SITTING there (like me) was too much to take.
I laced up the New Balances and off I went for a sloooow jog through the Los Altos Hills.
You know how some days you have those kick-a@# runs where the wind kisses your cheeks, the sun smiles on your scalp and forearms, and all the world is right and good in your eyes?
Well, I can tell you, today's little journey was NOT one of them.
I was huffing and puffing. I was sweating. I think I was running at about 82 minutes per mile pace. I'm pretty sure a pair of septuagenarians passed me on the trail near the Highway 280 exit.
But, because Myk was counting on me, I finished the run (barely).
And it hit me like a ton of bricks - THIS is the reason why getupandmove.me has so much promise.
It makes a SINGLE healthy action aspirational.
It's quite a challenge to debate the merits of a socially oriented, n=1 approach to health improvement, but working out with my guammies is proving this kind of thing can work - at least for some.
I wanted to finish Myk's challenge. Bottom line. So I did. I could have done a million other things with that 20 minutes.
If Myk had asked me to lose 7 pounds, or not eat junk food all week, or cut back my coffee consumption, it would have been too broad a goal, and I would have wondered why the hell he was nagging me in the first place.
When I'm trying to explain the concept of how microchoices are so important for personal AND public health reform, I get one of two reactions:
2. What the heck are microchoices?
I'll use a comparison here to illustrate why incentivizing individuals (I, you, everyone else - one at a time) to make healthier 'entry level' 'every day' choices is the only thing that I think will save healthcare.
My cofounder Andrey Petrov, along with Shinyoung Park, CEO of Funji.me, both helped me get over my fears related to launching Get Up and Move with what I considered an extremely anemic feature set (and no instructions! no about us page! oh the agony!).
It was Shingyoung who explained for me, patiently, the value of launching with a "minimum viable product."
Well, God bless him, Andrey gave it his best shot too :).
There are several big benefits to doing this...
First, you confront head on the fear that you will not succeed with your big dreams and just boot the product out the door.
Second, this means that you then become near-addicted (ok, addicted) to rapidly iterating improvements so your friends don't un-friend you on Facebook when you start singing the siren song of your new app.
In health, microchoices are the rough equivalent of the agile development, rapid iteration, minimum viable product approach.
GUAM (getupandmove.me) was the minimum viable product, and despite my empty fears and protestations, Andrey was strong enough to meet both head on and launch.
In getupandmove.me, we focus on what is the minimum viable ACTION that a person can take, in the near future, to get healthy.
Each getupandmove.me challenge equation or statement has not one, but TWO viable actions coded into the algorithm.
Like DNA base pairs in a double helix, you can't just do ONE minimum viable action to complete a challenge (which is where GUAM differentiates itself radically from other 'personal' health, fitness, and wellness apps).
In getupandmove.me, TWO users have to complete TWO minimum viable actions...User 1 (challenger) will do X action for X quantity if User 2 (responder) will do Y action for Y quantity.
We're literally coding social contagion into individual decision-making.
It was after completing Myk's challenge, despite the awful quality of the run itself, that I realized we've got a platform, not an app, on our hands here.
It's the behavioral patterning, the social economics of that algorithm that matter most here.
We've known 1 is the loneliest number for some time now - why haven't we coded platforms that enable the addition of 1+1 for better health outcomes before now?
Unfortunately, I'm not a sage. I can't answer that question retrospectively.
Fortunately, I am an optimist, and, now, a founder. I can say that from here on out, in every area Andrey and I touch, health is social. Health can be contagious too, and getupandmove is helping spread the epidemic.
To your health-