[Startups in Korea] Noom Helps its Users Stay Healthy and Fit

There are all kinds of smartphone apps. There are games, social network apps, news apps, useless apps and then there are apps which come along and actually have a significant affect on our lives. Noom, a New York based startup aims to make these very kind of apps.

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Noom’s website states that its mission is “to make a healthy living a seamless part everyday of life.” The startup creates lifestyle and fitness apps designed to help users live a healthy life. The company’s flagship app — “Noom Weight Loss Coach” acts not just as an app, but as a coach which is with you 24 hours a day, helping you to stay on track in your effort to lose those pounds. It helps you out with food suggestions, tasks and exercises you should do and even quizzes the user. As you can see in the video below, some of the features which set it apart from other fitness and weight loss apps are its varied reactions to the users behavior. If a user slacks off, the app encourages that person by providing them with easy tasks and redirecting them to the Noom forum where users can chat and encourage one another.

One of the reasons many users end up getting tired of lifestyle apps can be putting in the effort to log your progress and other things such as calculating how many calories you just ate. Noom tries to make such processes as painless as possible by giving users easier way to input, or in some cases, have the app recognize ones activities. Calorific is a calorie logging app which, instead of using purely a “numbered” calorie counting system, works using an ideal ratio system. Foods are divided into green, yellow and red categories and if the user is unsure what category a food belongs in, a more detailed menu outlining specific types of food is available. The app aims to help you change your eating habits rather than just trying to make sure you don’t go over a certain number of calories each day.

Another element which Noom tries to add to exercise through its products is fun. “Racing for Cardio Trainer” tracks a user’s running path and measures the time and distance. The fun comes in when you race against your previous times, a voice keeping you up to date with how far behind or ahead you are. Nevertheless, Jeong says that Noom products are not simply about tracking features,

“We know users do not go for an exercise everyday, so we are trying to make our features simple and easy to follow everyday. So, we are talking about wellness, not fitness.”

Noom is also creating innovations that can be used in gyms. The company says it is currently refining its technology to make cardio workouts more fun, hinting at what its future products might include.

“Just imagine pedaling down the real streets of Paris, racing against your friends from all the world! Stay tuned.”

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Noom was originally founded as WorkSmart Labs in 2007 by Saeju Jeong and Artem Petakov. Jeong had come to the U.S. from South Korea in 2005 after some rough times. Back in 1999 at the age of 20, he founded an online shopping mall site but closed it down after his father fell ill and passed away from cancer. He decided he had to do something and despite those around him trying to convince him otherwise, he made his way to the US with only a plane ticket and not knowing a word of English. After attempting to produce musicals in Broadway to take back to Korea, things didn’t go as planned and Jeong ended up in very some hard times once again. After talking to others about his situation, Jeong says that a surprising thing happened.

“After failing once and meeting people to try and get back up I realized one thing — if you talk about it you will always find a way. Maybe it was possible because I was in a country like the US.”

Jeong met Artem Petakov in 2005 and the pair set out on a mission to combine their skills to create technology which helps users improve their lifestyles. In December of last year the company’s name was changed from WorkSmart Labs to Noom Inc.

While Noom apps are currently only available on Android, Jeong says that the company does intend to expand its services to iOS in the future.

“We decided to improve the quality first then port it to iOS. Android is a better platform to iterate the product quality.”

You can check out Noom’s products on its website here.

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