James Dickerson, Nick Cramer and Ryan Tinker live together, true startup style, near Ault Park. Right now, they’re tackling the Paleo diet, a tough-to-follow way to eat as our Paleolithic ancestors did, which basically means avoiding dairy, grains and processed foods in favor of produce, nuts, fish and meat.
When one of the guys eats a meal -- say, baked fish, a handful of nuts and a salad -- they snap a photo and upload it to Leap
, a mobile app they launched this year on Leap Day (Feb. 29). As competitors in their own challenge, the guys win points if their meal fits the rules they set, or get a foul if it includes a forbidden food. Challenges in the app are designed by participants and proven by photographs.
“The idea was born from our own competitive nature and our interest in healthy habits,” Dickerson says. “I think all of us are really inspired by taking risks, doing really interesting things and not really going by the norms of society. We really want to do our own thing.”
Leap was built through trial and error. Dickerson found that people wanted an app that let them define their own goals (healthy or not) and compete with friends. Recently featured by Apple’s app store, the free app was downloaded more than 3,400 times in the first 60 hours it was available. After only six days, Leap had 10,000 active users.
The Leap team hopes to monetize the app by allowing companies to sponsor a challenge. For example, Chipotle might challenge its Facebook fans to burrito-eating contest, handing out swag to whoever eats the most. Or, a CrossFit gym could sponsor a diet challenge for its athletes.
“Leap is a product that people can use to try to push their friends to try new things and lead more interesting and fun-filled lives,” Dickerson says, explaining that the app can be used for any life-enriching goal, big or small. “I think our own goals and the lives we want to live are reflected in our product enabling others to do the same.”
By Robin Donovan