by Kyle Wiggers
We’ve all been there: galvanized to achieve one day, and utterly demotivated the next. It’s a vicious cycle of procrastination that Adam Baratz, a community developer-turned-entrepreneur, is seeking to break, at least in the area of fitness. His fledgling company created the eponymous Betchyu, a mobile app which incentivizes tasks like losing weight and exercising regularly.
Betchyu motivates goal completion by gamifying the process. Tapping into your web of social network friends, the app invites others to “dare” you to meet objectives for redeemable gift cards from Amazon, Target, and iTunes. The process is entirely automatic — thocomse on the betting end are automatically billed once the goals are met.
Why dares? “Nothing is as compelling as the double-dog-dare,” Baratz said. He claims up to 80% of early Betchyu users reached their goals, an effectiveness he attributes to Betchyu’s concept. “Because there’s something on the line, it increases accountability,” Baratz said. “It’s a carrot-and-stick dynamic — you can actually get something if you can succeed.”
Betchyu’s level of polish evokes a startup straight out of Silicon Valley, but Baratz’s company is homegrown. Betchyu just completed an accelerator program with Cleveland-based incubator Bizdom, and isn’t looking to relocate anytime soon. “Cleveland's development is still in a nascent phase — it’s great to be an active part of a big transition, very rewarding,” Baratz said. “On a practical level, the cost of living is a fraction of what it would be in a tech hubs like San Francisco and New York.”
The scope of Betchyu is currently limited because of the development team’s limited time and resources, but the app’s conceit lends itself well to almost anything, a fact of which Baratz is certainly aware. “Eventually we can expand it into other realms,” he said.
Betchyu is scheduled to launch on July 15, but has already attracted attention - it was named the #5 top startup in Cleveland by the Plain Dealer. It’ll be iOS-only initially, but Baratz said work has already begun on an Android version, and integration with wearables like fitness bands and smartwatches is potentially around the corner.