Workplace wellness startup Keas raises $6.5M

By: Brian Dolan | Dec 21, 2011        

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KeasKeas, the health gaming platform for corporate wellness programs co-founded by the original Google Health chief Adam Bosworth, has raised $6.5 million in its second round of funding. Atlas Ventures and Ignition Partners led the deal.

Keas describes its offering as a mix of a corporate wellness program, morale program, social network, addictive social game, and more. The company says it has launched team challenges for more than 60,000 employees at companies including Pfizer, Bechtel, Progress Software, and others. Challenges typically last 12 weeks.

The startup plans to use the new funds to build out its distribution channels as well as to add sales and marketing teams.

Since it first launched in late 2009, Keas has pivoted quite a bit. Originally, Keas planned to offer various personalized care plans for consumers interested in leveraging their personal health data to make healthier decisions. Keas planned to take the Apple AppStore approach: People with medical expertise (like Partners HealthCare) would create care plans for Keas which then makes them available to consumers. When consumers bought a care plan, Keas planned to take a 30 percent cut of the revenue and passed the rest onto the plan’s designers.

While still working toward the original approach, in February 2010, Bosworth said: “We have tens of thousands of users right now That’s not as many as we want. Originally we wanted to have about 100,000 users by now. By the end of the year our goal is to have at least one million users and at least 10 million by the end of next year. That’s just within the U.S., but we are under enormous pressure from other countries.”

Ultimately, not gaining enough traction as a consumer health play, Keas transformed into a workplace wellness by November 2010. (Xconomy has a great writeup of the pivot here.)

In the release announcing its new funding, Keas included some results from two of its corporate customers:

“At Chilton Hospital, a non-profit hospital with 1,300 employees, 40 percent of eligible employees registered for the Keas challenge. In addition to the 1,230 pounds Chilton Hospital employees shed during the 12-week challenge, 73 percent of Keas players reported feeling more positive towards their employer and 64 percent thought the experience made them more productive at work. By the end of the Keas challenge, 88 percent of players reported that they would remain proactive about their health as a result of the program.”

“At Progress Software, an enterprise software firm headquartered in Massachusetts with 1,700 employees globally, 65 percent of eligible US-based employees registered for Keas. At week 12, half of all participants were consistently and continuously engaged with the program, setting goals, sharing results and posting to the challenge feed. Plus, 63 percent of participants lost weight (592 lbs. in all), and 36 percent reported an improvement in their stress level. In January 2012, Progress will expand the challenge to include all 1,700 employees across the globe.”

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More in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE – Keas, a fun social game for the workplace that promotes wellness and healthy living, today announced it raised $6.5 million in Series B financing led by Atlas Venture and Ignition Partners. Co-founded by former Google Health chief and technology veteran Adam Bosworth and enterprise software entrepreneur George Kassagbi, Keas is a recipe for business success that looks a little something like this:

1 p. corporate wellness program 1 p. morale program 1 p. social networking 1 p. addictive social game 2 p. sustained engagement 3 p. teamwork and play 2 p. secret sauce

Step 1. Assemble ingredients and blend on max speed.

Keas will use the new financing to support continued business growth, to expand and scale distribution methods, and to add sales and marketing functions within the organization. Since launch, Keas challenges have rolled out to 60,000+ employees of companies like Pfizer, Bechtel, Progress Software and more.

“Nearly half of Americans are overweight or obese, with 30 pounds or more to lose to achieve a healthy weight. That wasn’t the case 50, 40 or 20 years ago,” said Adam Bosworth, co-founder and CTO, Keas. “As a country, we’ve really lost our way when it comes to our health, and there are very real implications and hard costs associated with that shift, not just for patients but even more dramatically, for employers.”

When Keas lands in the office, employees form teams, slap on the sweatbands and gym shorts, and work together and achieve three personal health goals each week. Over the course of a 12-week challenge, players motivate each other to develop healthy habits like taking the stairs or putting down the doughnuts. Along the way, each player earns points for their activity. The points add up to team prizes and rewards.

“There are very basic, universal actions we can all take to turn things around: eat our vegetables, eat less, exercise more, and relieve stress,” said Bosworth. “The real problem is motivation, and that’s where Keas comes in. It’s Facebook meets Farmville: social, playful and an experience that employees can actually have fun with. That’s the secret sauce, and that’s why it works.”

Companies using Keas have seen remarkable results with increased health, happiness and productivity. At Chilton Hospital, a non-profit hospital with 1,300 employees, 40 percent of eligible employees registered for the Keas challenge. In addition to the 1,230 pounds Chilton Hospital employees shed during the 12-week challenge, 73 percent of Keas players reported feeling more positive towards their employer and 64 percent thought the experience made them more productive at work. By the end of the Keas challenge, 88 percent of players reported that they would remain proactive about their health as a result of the program.

At Progress Software, an enterprise software firm headquartered in Massachusetts with 1,700 employees globally, 65 percent of eligible US-based employees registered for Keas. At week 12, half of all participants were consistently and continuously engaged with the program, setting goals, sharing results and posting to the challenge feed. Plus, 63 percent of participants lost weight (592 lbs. in all), and 36 percent reported an improvement in their stress level. In January 2012, Progress will expand the challenge to include all 1,700 employees across the globe.

Want to get in the game? Visit Keas.com to learn more about bringing social employee wellness to your office.

About Keas Keas is an innovative social game that promotes health and happiness in the workplace through game-play, social networking and rewards. Keas motivates and empowers users to adopt and maintain healthy habits and lifestyles, resulting in a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce. Founded in 2008 by Adam Bosworth and George Kassabgi, Keas is headquartered in San Francisco.