August 18, 2011 in ATDC News

Startup Chronicles: Cooleaf

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During his 15 years in the healthcare industry, Prem Bhatia noticed that many corporate wellness programs were failing to resonate long-term with employees. So he joined forces with Sarwar Bhuiyan and John Duisberg to brainstorm ways to provide a more flexible corporate health platform that would generate staff interest and engagement. Eventually, they also turned their focus to a broader, consumer audience.

The result? Call it an Expedia for your health and wellness efforts. Unlike traditional gym memberships, the newly launched Cooleaf web application allows people to pick and choose classes and programs “a la carte” to improve their health, all while earning rewards.

“From my own experience, a gym membership just doesn’t fit into my schedule. And I know others that have the same problem or maybe don’t like the aggressive sales memberships or price tags,” said Bhatia, a co-founder. “So this is a platform that serves that need. The user experience is really similar to how someone might use a popular travel search engine to book a flight or hotel for an upcoming trip.”

Since the startup’s soft launch back in April, nearly 70 Atlanta providers of health and wellness have joined forces with Cooleaf including Operation Boot Camp, Urban Body Studios, CORE Pilates and Gyrotonic, Jai Shanti Yoga and Café Physique. That means website visitors can browse nearly 900 classes and programs encompassing personal training sessions, yoga and pilates classes, nutrition counseling and massages. Once a consumer has found their program of choice, Cooleaf provides full enrollment capabilities, as well as reward points that may be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, charitable contributions and other classes and programs through the website.

In addition to growing their user base, the three partners are now hard at work designing and developing Cooleaf’s corporate wellness features and enhancements. The idea is to provide local employers with a more cost-effective, innovative and tailored way to reward employees for pursuing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. Employers that adopt the Cooleaf corporate wellness solution will likely provide their staff with access to employer-sponsored funds. These funds could be used for Cooleaf’s available programs and classes, while employees earn reward points that they can keep (even if they leave the employer). They hope to unveil that platform early next year.

Members of ATDC for the past year, the startup profits through revenue-sharing and recently formed affiliate partnerships with local businesses including Fresh To Order and Phidippides. They have also targeted an angel round of financing and hope to raise $250,000 in the next few months.

“Our intention is to make living healthy easier, more fun, and more rewarding,” said Bhatia, who explained that the company name reflects the ability for users to turn over a new leaf and realize that wellness can be “cool.” “Since healthy living is a highly personalized journey, Cooleaf gives individuals the flexibility to do it on their terms and earn something more tangible then a ‘pat on the back’ for living healthy.”

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