Insiders size up a health-tracking app; Smart Columbus looks for partners

Launch Pad: Father's Illness Inspires Health-tracking App

When Morgan Koth learned his father had diabetes in 2010, he took the hint and started paying closer attention to his own health. Before adopting a plant-based diet, Koth had blood work done that revealed his thyroid was on overdrive. But instead of taking the pill his physician prescribed, Koth implemented lifestyle changes. Six months later, his blood work was pretty much perfect.

His father experienced no such recovery. In 2014, he died of complications from diabetes at the age of 61. The loss was a catalyst for Koth, a lifelong sports participant who exercised regularly and consumed low-fat meats, to begin developing OptimumU—one health-tracking app to rule them all.

“I had a FitBit, I was wearing the Garmin, Jawbone ... the MyFitnessPals were tracking food ... but there was no correlation with another system, with my steps, sleep, activity minutes,” Koth says. “I just felt like it wasn't doing me any good, or the people I cared about any good.”

Koth, a serial entrepreneur whose current venture, Powell-based Advanced Industrial Machining Inc., allows him to pursue passion projects like OptimumU, isn't seeking investors for the project.

OptimumU, which is being developed by Columbus-based Big Kitty Labs, tracks 23 health indicators and nudges users based on personal history. It incorporates positive psychology, breathing, mindfulness, sleep activity, nutrition and a gratitude journal. Koth plans to add DNA and artificial intelligence components.

The HIPAA-compliant app will be advertising-free, using a subscription-based revenue model. It will cost users $3.99 a month.

Will OptimumU achieve startup success?

“OptimumU looks to deliver technology advancements that make communicating with patients seamless. Pro-Health Services is always looking for ways to easily communicate with patients their overall health picture and suggest ways to integrate healthy lifestyle changes.”

Industry expert: Dr. Angelice Alexander, founder, Pro-Health Services

“Tracking my health ... is hard enough without using several apps. ... The aspect I find most appealing and useful ... is its ability to consolidate food journaling, guided meditation, cycle tracking and fitness. If they can ace the user experience, this will be an app to watch.”

Potential user: Kate Finley, CEO, Belle Communications

“I love the name—it says it all. The app is timely because we are all trying to measure whether we are healthy, wealthy and wise. Health and wellness is a huge market with many competitors for OptimumU: entrepreneurs as well as large, established companies and medical institutions. The winner(s) will likely hit upon what traits to include for measurement and which ones to omit. Deciding how to market this app and to whom will be a critical choice. An app cannot be all things to all people.”

Potential investor: Carol Clark, founder, X-Squared Angels

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Smart City Still Seeking Vendors

The city's Smart Columbus team continues to engage the technology and engineering communities looking for project partners.

Coming up in the next few months, requests for proposal and information will go out for the following: Software or information technology services to develop a multi-modal trip planning application; additional routes from an autonomous shuttle vendor; technology broker/vendor that operates transportation services for prenatal trip assistance; truck platooning partner; and software or information technology services to develop common transportation payment systems.

Local businesses, small businesses and those run by disadvantaged groups are encouraged to respond to the city's calls for partners.

“Over the coming months, Smart Columbus will release five ‘concepts of operations' documents, each defining the user needs and scope of federally funded technology deployments,” Mandy Bishop, program manager for the city of Columbus, says. “These documents will help to establish our future technology requirements, which will inform a flurry of procurement activity into 2019. We look forward to creating new opportunities for businesses to work with the city of Columbus and be part of our endeavor to become America's Smart City.”