Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Todd McGuire, co-founder, and CTO of incentaHEALTH, located in Englewood, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
incentaHEALTH helps employers, health plans, physician groups, and government agencies deliver measurable weight management and type 2 diabetes prevention programs. The digital platform uses behavioral economics to encourage individuals to adopt new habits around healthy eating and active living. The HEALTHspot® scale (U.S. Patent No. 7541547) simultaneously measures each member's weight while recording a full-length digital photo to track visually-authenticated improvements in body weight and BMI. This "Healthy Selfie" creates an industry-first visual health screening that is enthusiastically embraced by our members, with ⅓ of participants achieving a 5% BMI reduction sustained over multiple years.
Tell us about yourself
My "North Star" is health. Just about everything I do is driven by a desire to live the healthiest life for myself and to help inspire others to improve and thrive in their own health journey. I even named one of my twin sons Emerson after the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who over 160 years ago wrote, "The first wealth is health." He had it figured out all those years ago. My other passion is technology. I started programming when I was 11 years old and have never stopped building technology. So when I looked at the obesity and diabetes health crisis in the U.S., I think it was inevitable that I'd find a way to marry technology with health and come up with a solution. 73% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes, and 90% don't even know that they do. So we decided to build a scalable solution that uses behavioral economics to reward people for improving their health. As James Clear wrote in the great book Atomic Habits, "People follow incentives, not advice." So we decided to use incentives as a catalyst to get people's attention so they would start the program. And then, we use our patented "Healthy Selfie" concept to show them a visual flipbook of their journey over time so they can see how their appearance changes as they learn the concepts of Healthy Eating and Active Living, which forms the acronym HEAL. For me, I'm so convinced of the value of good health that it's easy for me to get after it every day building software to help tackle some of the biggest health challenges that our families and we face.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Receiving the patent on our HEALTHspot remote patient monitoring system felt great. Watching our statewide community health program with Kaiser Permanente grow to help over 100,000 Colorado residents improve their health was an amazing experience. We won the Healthy Community Innovation Aware from Denver's Mayor for that project. And being awarded full recognition from the CDC for our virtual diabetes prevention program and deploying it with customers like Yale-Griffin, the Colorado and Wyoming Health Departments, and the University of Utah has been a big milestone for our company.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Going from idea to prototype to product commercialization when you're starting simply with an idea sketched out in a notebook is very satisfying but also a big challenge. Handling all of the uncertainty and curveballs (like the financial crisis of 2007/8 and the COVID pandemic) thrown at you is a big stressor. But as the saying goes, the obstacles aren't blocking the path...they are the path. You learn so much through the roller coaster of building a company.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Passion. You better love what you're doing. I can't imagine I'd be able to spend the amount of energy that it takes to build a business if I wasn't obsessed with improving health.
- Multiple hats. Be ready to do everything. At some point, I think I've worked in every role in our company, from building software the answering phones to installing equipment to speaking at conferences. And I think I'm better at it. You really need to understand your product, your customer, and how it all works.
- Iterate. Don't let perfection be the enemy of progress. As an entrepreneur, you feel like your very soul is reflected in your product, so you want to make it shine. I get it. But that mindset can paralyze you and keep you from launching. So get into the game as soon as you have a viable offering. Then listen carefully to what your customers love (and hate) about it so you can make it better. Rinse, dry, and repeat. It's liberating to realize that you'll never be done learning from your customers and making the product really fit their needs.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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