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ShapeUp: Making Health a Team Sport

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Founders League are collaborating toshowcase local companies pioneering new health and wellness solutions. The diversity of these companies captures the depth of activity happening across Rhode Island’s startup scene and highlights the global impact these companies are already having on the world. Below is the third in a nine-part blog series on these special local companies.

People are social animals. Folks who want to shape up, lose weight, quit smoking or achieve other fitness goals have a dramatically better chance of success when they do it together. Why? Because groups create a shared sense of commitment, accountability, and support, which all contribute to greater chances of success.

Now consider what would happen if people could address their health at work-- a place where people naturally congregate and spend significant time collaborating in teams? Can we use what we know about the motivating power of groups to help people achieve their fitness goals while lowering healthcare costs and building a healthier, more productive workforce?

The answer is a resounding yes. Look no further than ShapeUp, one of the fastest growing workplace health and wellness program providers in the world.

ShapeUp’s origin story goes back a few years, when founders Rajiv Kumar and Brad Weinberg were performing their clinical rotations as students at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School. Patients who successfully managed chronic and acute conditions generally did so with a support system of friends, family members, and coworkers. Those who forged ahead alone generally fared worse.

Instead of filing this revelation away, the two embarked upon a mission to provide social interventions to help people improve their own health. Over the past ten years, ShapeUp has helped participants lose millions of pounds and the company works with over 500 health plans and companies. ShapeUp’s uniqueness lies in its ability to align itself with specific organizational cultures. This flexibility is partially responsible for ShapeUp’s rapid expansion; the solution is now delivered in more than two dozen languages across 138 countries.

The concept is surprisingly simple. ShapeUp unites all of the wellness programs a company may offer--smoking cessation, weight loss, diabetes management --into a single, intuitive interface, providing personalized program recommendations to employees. The company also offers a suite of ready-to-use fitness and nutrition programs and challenges, featuring team competitions designed to unite and motivate employees around healthy goals. And what’s a good program without rewards? ShapeUp’s best-in-class incentives engine streamlines rewards, offers real-time fulfillment, and is grounded in behavioral economics.

In addition to providing their own native phone or tablet app, the ShapeUp platform is fully integrated with more than 100 of the most popular mobile health tools. Participating organizations have the ability customize, localize, and white label the entire program to seamlessly integrate into their unique corporate and/or local culture.

ShapeUp also delivers a number of tools to help participants stay enthusiastic and monitor their own progress--things like social sharing, guidance from licensed coaches, and digitally delivered assessments and biometrics. For employers, ShapeUp delivers analytic data for managers to monitor engagement, measure progress, and dynamically modify program offerings for maximum benefits. The longer companies use ShapeUp, the better it gets.

Rajiv, who now serves as CEO of the company, is committed to more than growing the business;, he’s also a strong advocate for the Rhode Island startup community and a regular mentor to entrepreneurs and fledgling ventures. He’s encouraged his professional team to pitch in whenever possible.

“Building ShapeUp has been a thrilling experience, and it couldn’t have been possible without the support and opportunities created by the Rhode Island community." says Rajiv. “ShapeUp was founded as a community venture, so helping the next generation of entrepreneurs is a natural extension of our mission to build healthy, happier communities.”

To learn more about ShapeUp, visit their website here:

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