Many women today say they are busier than ever juggling their personal and professional lives. Whether they are spending time raising the kids, working at a demanding job or managing the household, they often don’t take the time to care for themselves and their health.
Two years ago, Norm Hamson and Grant Ingersoll, both natives of North County San Diego, set out to make a difference in health and wellness for women. The result was the creation of a free app they named “Team Better,” which was launched this past summer for the iPhone and Android.
“So many of us get caught up in our routines, we forget to take time to focus on ourselves and our health,” said Jen Kim, a Rancho Santa Fe resident and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) who writes food and nutrition blogs for the app. “The app reminds us to take at least a few minutes each day to focus on our health and take care of ourselves.”
She said the app provides an abundance of health information from experts that are backed by science. “The app also provides a great social support system which can really help you stay motivated,” said Kim.
Each day, app users receive a wellness challenge such as drinking a cup of water before every meal, flossing your teeth or doing 10 pushups. Users earn tickets for every challenge completed and prizes are given out, such as a gift certificate from Amazon, Target or Whole Foods.
Kim said the challenges are designed for everyone and don’t require any drastic changes. “These are simple little changes that you can do every day that can make you healthier,” said Kim. “It’s nothing really complicated or advanced.”
“What we’re doing is changing everybody in this little way and you’ll see them start making this difference,” said Hamson, a Rancho Santa Fe resident and CEO of Team Better who formerly worked at Qualcomm.
He and Ingersoll, who has a finance background and is chairman of the company living in San Clemente, were originally working on a business proposal that involved mammogram utilization. “It’s the most popular of the cancers but still the number two killer of women; one in eight women will get it sometime in their lifetime,” said Hamson. “The outcomes are very survivable if you detect it early, but over 50 percent of women still don’t get their mammograms.”
Hamson said the childhood friends soon realized, “There is this huge opportunity to save lives and change the world for the better here but how do we do that?”
They asked Jacinta Jimenez, a behavioral clinical psychologist and graduate of Stanford, if she could recommend how to encourage others to do things they know they should do, but still don’t for a variety of reasons.
Hamson said that Jimenez told them, “If you are the kind of person who is used to saying ‘yes’ to wellness, then when presented with an opportunity to make a healthy choice, you’re more likely to say ‘yes’ to that choice.”
After talking to Jimenez, the entrepreneurs decided that rather than build a mammogram app, they would focus on overall wellness for women. “Ninety-nine percent of the things that you do to prevent dying from breast cancer are the same things you do to prevent obesity, anxiety, cardiac illnesses and the top 10 killers of everybody,” said Hamson.
In October 2015, they teamed up with technology experts from Intuit to create a web interface that was user-friendly and incorporated positive, happy messages. Then they invited 50 women to test out their idea. Every morning the women were sent a text with a very simple health challenge.
On the ninth day of testing, they challenged the group of women to get a mammogram. Hamson said that over 80 percent of the users met that challenge.
Amy Dillon was one of those women. A mother of five children, including one with special needs, Dillon hadn’t visited the doctor for about 10 years. When she received the challenge to get a mammogram, she made an appointment and found out that she had a precancerous polyp. Although it could have been catastrophic, because it was identified with the mammogram, she was able to have it removed. “Team Better is a great app,” Dillon told Fox 5 San Diego during a news segment about the app. “I’m very thankful for it—everyone should download it.”
Hamson and Ingersoll continued to test their wellness concept over the next four months, interviewing the app’s users, doing research and sending out surveys. After finding it was successful, they worked with a group of engineers to build the app and hired a team of content writers who are all experts in the areas of health and fitness. In addition to Kim, they include Kara Chine from Encinitas and Dana Vaughan from Poway, who are both writers for the social/mental/emotional challenges and blogs; and Cynthia Miranda, a fitness writer from Carlsbad.
“It’s a fun app for women because the challenges are doable and even though they only take a few minutes of your day, they resonate into your everyday life and may even have lasting effects,” said Miranda, who has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years and has a degree in sports medicine. “We want users to feel like we are sharing a cup of coffee and to have our trust. We have their best interest in mind and we all share similar concerns and joys.”
Hamson said there are dozens of daily challenge apps available but what sets Team Better apart from the others is the quality of content provided by the writers. “They’re moms, they’re busy, employed and doing a variety of things,” he said. “They understand the women who we are talking to.”
After officially launching the app this summer during breast cancer awareness month in October, the number of users grew to 8,000 in late December.
“We want everybody to get a little bit better every day,” said Hamson. “The big message is that you are worth it. You deserve this. You deserve more than five minutes a day, but we’ll help you take at least five minutes a day for you.”
For more information, visit www.teambetter.com or download the Team Better app from the App Store.