Zamzee Uses Tech to Boost Physical Activity in Teens
Omidyar-founded HopeLab launches new social enterprise
November 18, 2010 – REDWOOD CITY, CA – HopeLab, a nonprofit research and development organization founded by Pam Omidyar, today announced it has launched Zamzee Co., a new for-profit enterprise with a social mission to boost physical activity in teens.
Sedentary behavior is a major problem of national importance. There are approximately 20 million young teens in the U.S., and research shows that sedentary behavior is putting these young people at risk for serious – and seriously expensive – long-term health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 1, 2, 3 To address this problem, Zamzee Co. will launch and manage the commercial development and operations of Zamzee, a product incubated by HopeLab that increases physical activity in young teens and fights sedentary behavior with fun technology.
Zamzee is an online rewards program for teens powered by their physical activity. To earn rewards, teens wear the Zamzee meter, a three-axis accelerometer specially calibrated to record short bursts of movement as well as vigorous activity. Physical activity recorded by the Zamzee meter will power a teen’s online account at www.zamzee.com. Activity boosts a teen’s status within the system and can be converted into a spendable virtual currency used to purchase virtual and tangible rewards. Teens using Zamzee earn recognition and the ability to purchase things they want based on how much they move in the real world, whether it’s running around with friends, participating in organized sports, or pitching in around the house.
Early research shows that the product increases physical activity in young teens by approximately 30% – the equivalent of running nearly an extra marathon a month. The initial research and development of Zamzee was conducted by HopeLab, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“Sedentary behavior is a ticking time bomb set to destroy the future health of a generation of young people. Zamzee is a fun, effective way to get young teens moving more,” said Pat Christen, HopeLab president and CEO. “As a mission-focused social enterprise, Zamzee Co. will allow us to scale Zamzee’s impact to the millions of young people who might benefit – we’re experimenting with a market-based approach to achieve broad, sustainable impact, and we’re excited to see the results.”
Zamzee Co. is expected to release Zamzee in a limited beta in the first half of 2011, with a full public launch to follow later in the year.
HopeLab launched Zamzee Co. with a program-related equity investment of $1 million. Zamzee Co. will be responsible for creating a profitable business around Zamzee that achieves the goal of getting large numbers of teens to be more physically active. HopeLab will partner with Zamzee Co. in ongoing research and distribution activities to support the social mission of the product. Zamzee Co. is actively seeking additional mission-aligned partners and investors.
1 U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 1 July 2009, available from http://www.census.gov; Internet; accessed November 15, 2010.
2 Nader P, Bradley R, Houts R, McRitchie S, O’Brien M. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from ages 9 to 15 years. JAMA 2008;300(3):295-305.
3 Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1 May 2010, available from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html; Internet; accessed 15 November 2010.
HopeLab is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by Board Chair Pam Omidyar. HopeLab combines rigorous research with innovative solutions to improve the health and quality of life of young people living with chronic illness. HopeLab applies a research-based, customer-focused development model to create fun, technology-based products that address chronic illnesses in young people, including cancer, obesity, major depressive disorder, sickle cell disease and autism. For more information, please visit www.hopelab.org.