This past spring, the Boston chapter of Tech in Motion hosted an exciting evening of demos and drinks based around green and health tech startups, including Lose It!, a weight loss application. Tech in Motion Boston took the time to sit down with Community Manager Whitney Klinkner of Lose It! to get the inside scoop on her company and the startup scene in Boston.
Q: First off, can you give us a quick introduction to “Lose It!”?
Lose It! is a program that helps folks lose weight by managing their calories in and calories out- a pretty basic concept. We’ve taken it to the next level by making the calorie counting process as painless as possible. The app was started out as a way to make calorie counting easier (as opposed to the old fashioned way of pen and paper!). Then it got picked up for an Apple commercial back in 2008 which helped skyrocket the app and the company. We started off in Copley Square, but made the move to the seaport in 2012. When we moved there, we had about 5 people, and now we are at 12. We have more than doubled our size which is pretty exciting.
We just hit 32 million pounds lost with the app and right now we have about 19 million users; there are about a million people on average who are using the app regularly, which is great. We are consistently in the top 5 for the health and fitness store on iTunes.
Q: With over 19 million users and a team of only 12 people, did you guys find yourselves struggling to keep up with the demand of the app?
It’s actually not as hard as it might seem with our smaller team. When we first started out, the main idea was to get as many things done as soon as you could. Now with a bigger team, we are able to prioritize what needs to get done and have better control so things don’t fall through the cracks. With more people too we are able to give our users more of what they want; one big thing our users have loved is integrating our app with other devices like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband. Our CEO has always believed that a small group of hard working people can do extraordinary things – so that’s been our philosophy from day one. We are hiring a few more people and are excited to grow and accomplish even more!
Q: Just as a startup in general, were there things you found difficult?
One of the great things about Lose It! is that so many have heard about it through word of mouth. Our user growth has been huge, but managing the of the demands of all these people has been a bit of a challenge. We get hundreds of emails from users each week with items they’d like to see added to Lose It!; managing those expectations has been a bit difficult from where I sit. We’d love to implement everything under the sun to help folks to achieve their goals, but it’s just not feasible. We continue to grow and sustain the program in the way that we think makes sense while incorporating feedback from users to shape new features.
Q: Boston is becoming a great place for startups lately, so how do you like the idea of being a Boston startup?
I think being a startup in Boston is awesome. There are so many smart people here and lots of new graduates with all of these great ideas. Unfortunately a lot of these guys and girls go to the west coast after they graduate. I think we need to make the up and coming graduates more aware of all the cool things happening in the Boston start up scene so we can keep more or this new talent local. I know #DownloadBoston has been doing a great job of trying to let people know about local apps and having the city of Boston celebrate them, which I’d really like to see more of. We should feel proud the start up culture here in Boston.
Q: So you guys did a demo with Tech in Motion, do you see an importance to a meet up group like Tech in Motion for startups?
One of our goals for this year was to go out for more community events like Tech in Motion. It’s a great way to get our name out there, and to meet new people in the Boston startup community. A lot of people didn’t realize we were here in Boston and so the exposure is great for us as a company. It’s also great to learn about other startups in the area and see what they are doing. We are all in the same boat trying to grow our companies. It’s great to make connections and help each other out when it makes sense.
Q: Final Question: can you leave some words of wisdom for those wanting to get into a startup?
I think that if you want to join a startup, you have to be prepared to work very hard and never have the attitude of “that’s not my job.” In my experience, you have to wear a lot of different hats, especially in the very early stages. No day is ever the same and you get a lot of exposure to parts of a business you’d never imagine. Once the company grows you can figure out which areas you really enjoy and sort of steer yourself in that direction, which I think is something you might not get if you started in a big company. I would recommend a start up to anyone who likes a challenge and and does not mind working hard.