Geekwire Startup Spotlight: Limeade helps companies improve employee health with incentive-based wellness plans

Article originally appeared in Geekwire

Things are rolling for the folks at Limeade, a Bellevue-based software company that creates incentive-based wellness plans for 03 Limeade IMG 7930 Edit1 - Geekwire Startup Spotlight: Limeade helps companies improve employee health with incentive-based wellness plansbusinesses, and that was certainly made clear after it announced a key partnership with the State of Washington last month.

The state’s new program, SmartHealth, will use Limeade’s engagement platform to provide personalized healthcare plans for 150 agencies and other education institutions within Washington. Limeade conducts health assessment surveys and screenings to address the needs of each organization, then creates a plan that uses rewards to encourage healthy behaviors and activities.

“Washington is a national leader in delivering high-quality, low-cost health care, and the launch of SmartHealth will provide our employees support to get healthy and stay healthy,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in statement.

The partnership is a major development for Limeade, which was founded in 2006 and raised $5 million in capital two years ago.

“Limeade was founded with a simple mission:  Measurably improve well-being in the world by building happy, healthy, high-performing workforces,” said CEO Henry Albrecht.

Limeade executes that goal by offering incentives like discounts on health plans for employees who participate in a certain number of physical activities per year. In addition to private business, government institutions and schools will now use this system.

We caught up with Albrecht for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature presented by Comcast Business.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Limeade is a software company that uses challenges and rewards to inspire employees at Fortune 1000 companies to improve their health, well-being and performance.”

Inspiration hit us when: “The idea originally hit me when I worked at Intuit. With Quicken,, QuickBooks and TurboTax, Intuit uses software to help people measure and improve financial well-being. I wanted to do the same thing for overall well-being — emotional and physical health and the whole work-life-awesomeness equation. And that’s exactly what we do at Limeade.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We bootstrapped for a couple of years, because even though our approach was 100 percent evidence-based, it was also audacious and ill-advised.  We took angel capital for a couple more years, because Seattle angels are the world’s best supporters of dreaming big.  Only when we had our model clicking did we raise VC capital — to build an enduring brand, to deliver customer delight at massive scale, and to fund the next level of innovation.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Positivity. LimeMates definitely ‘drink the Limeade’ — living our mission and values by using our own product every day.”

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The Limeade team.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Picking a name that — love it or hate it — you will remember it!”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Being cautious.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos, because Amazon seems the most intentional and focused on its employer brand. Customers always come first. Their relentless and consistent execution is rare. And they don’t play small-ball.”

Our world domination starts when: “When LimeMates fire up their mojo every morning.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We are customer-obsessed. Last month, one of our customers visited us from Kentucky to share with the whole company what she loves and hates about Limeade.  When she ended with, ‘Limeade is real. You try hard, you listen, you deliver — you are exactly what you say you are,’ we all got goosebumps.”

We are truly unique because: “We are nimble. We embrace the changes happening in healthcare, in human capital management and in society. The employee-employer relationship is fundamentally changing to one more focused on personal well-being, social connection, accountability, meaning and true voluntary engagement. The technology landscape changes every few weeks. We are agile and ready.”

Limeade Logo JPG 300x52 - Geekwire Startup Spotlight: Limeade helps companies improve employee health with incentive-based wellness plansOur biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is:“Not being able to pay anyone when the wire from a VC just … never showed up. Our belief in our idea, technology, people and market never wavered. We banded together with amazing support from friends and family who have always been there for us. We are grateful to them and to each other.”

What is the one piece of advice you’d give other entrepreneurs: “That big chip on your shoulder is a good thing. It’s squashing the devil trying to tell you to quit.”