Proving Ground Profiles: Adam Pawelec, Co-Founder, WhyFit
December 10, 2018
A recent graduate of the Close School of Entrepreneurship, Adam Pawelec is the co-founder of WhyFit, one of the 17 - 20 start-up businesses currently incubating in the Baiada Institute.
WhyFit is a wellness app designed to help employers help employees lead healthier lives. Adam's target market is small to medium-sized companies; each company pays a monthly subscription fee for each employee user. Healthier employers equal less insurance claims which saves the employer money. WhyFit focuses on a holistic approach to wellness - mindfulness, food, nutrition and exercise.
Eight years ago, Adam was a computer science major at Penn State University when he began developing his first tech app. "Mad Body" gave users a platform to plan and share workout regimens and meal plans. Mad Body had early promise: Adam was able to secure enough venture capital to hire two full time content creators, while he focused on programming. He quit school and built his user base to 40,000 - a respectable number but short of the number required to attract the advertising dollars that Adam needed to grow his business.
Adam was also frustrated by his inability to retain users and lack of user loyalty. Why were people using his app just once or twice and then ghosting it? Instead of pausing to conduct market research to figure out the reasons why, he plowed ahead, convinced that he could program his way to a successful app.
When Adam eventually ran out of money, he made the decision to return to school and transferred to Drexel University. Instead of finishing his Computer Science degree, he enrolled in the Close School of Entrepreneurship to concentrate on the business side of starting a tech app.
One of his first classes, "Ready, Set, Fail", challenged Adam to reflect on the reasons why Mad Body had failed. He took a break from programming and finally began to, as he said, "research, research, research". He realized an intrinsic flaw in his target market: despite their good intentions, people do not stick to their fitness goals. Life invariably gets in the way, and, in particular - work. On average, people commute an average of 2 hours per day, work 8 hours, and return home to more work and responsibility - dinner, childcare, chores. People spend an average of 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetimes - 1/3 of their lives. If the typical person has trouble incorporating fitness into their outside-of-work lives, then the answer is to bring health and well-being into their inside-of-work lives.
This was Adam's "aha" moment. With partner Monika Maj, he founded WhyFit, changing his target market to employers, rather than employees.
What drives Adam? Surprisingly, Adam is not a fitness-fanatic. Instead, His passion lies in problem-solving; he sees the success of WhyFit as a problem to be solved.
His advice to future entrepreneurs? Choose just two things to focus on - everything else is just distracting noise. Adam chose to focus on WhyFit's minimum viable product and client acquisition. He quickly created a minimum viable product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and to provide feedback for future product development. The lessons he learned at Mad Body about the deadliness of a stagnant customer base informed his decision to concentrate on client acquisition. Without a growing, expanding client base, a Start Up will quickly run out of money.
Adam doesn’t allow anything to distract him from his goal. 28 years old, Adam was born in Poland but is now a naturalized United States citizen. To save money, he still lives at home with his Polish speaking parents and acts as their primary interpreter. He doesn't party or date. He is almost always one of the first entrepreneurs each morning to arrive at the Baiada Institute as well as the last to leave. He is determined to design and build an app that is destined to become the go-to solution for employee well-being, fitness and mindfulness. Why not WhyFit?