What began as an app to build healthy habits has grown into a digital health hub that makes navigating the black diamonds of health considerably less scary.


As a former ski instructor, Chris Cutter is partial to skiing metaphors when describing LifeDojo, the employee health company he founded in 2013. It goes something like this.

Imagine it’s your very first time skiing. You show up to rent your equipment and the person behind the counter says, “Just hop on the lift, take it to the top of the mountain and ski on down. You’ll be fine!”

“It doesn’t work,” says Cutter, who transitioned from social work to entrepreneurship when he realized the latter could have a larger global impact. That novice skier, he says, is like the average employee who is offered a complex digital health solution – like a diabetes or depression app – but has a history of failing at self-improvement. “There are a million barriers to the average person engaging with these medical solutions.”

Cutter calls LifeDojo the “ski school” for digital health interventions. “You wobble out of that rental shop and someone is there to meet you, help you put on your skis for the very first time, teach you how to stop. We’re going to get on the chairlift with you, help you down the scary first slope, and, when you’re finally ready, help you take on something big – like depression or diabetes or anxiety.” You get the metaphor. 

At a quick glance, LifeDojo looks like a standard employee health platform, in good company with health navigators like Castlight and Accolade. But there’s a reason why the company has scored recent contracts with high growth tech companies like Adobe, Airbnb, Dolby Labs and many others who are widely considered the most demanding and critical digital health clients in the market. Under the hood, Cutter and team have built a platform that uses healthy habits, and incredibly high sign-up and engagement rates – as a “soft onramp” to a comprehensive eco-system of health solutions. 

Let’s break it down. At the heart of the product are four main pathways: mastering stress, healthy eating, fitness and increasing happiness. Within each, LifeDojo empowers employees to design their own 12-week behavior change programs — anything from eating less sugar to journaling about gratitude — and then pairs each person with a live coach. These coaches, actual human beings trained in Person-Centered Therapy (PCT), track their progress and guide them on their health journey. 

For high tech companies, LifeDojo has consistently reduced reported stress of participating end users by 31% within three months.

While LifeDojo is hardly the first to tackle behavior change, they are raising the bar on sustained change and mass engagement. For high tech companies, LifeDojo has consistently reduced reported stress of participating end users by 31% within three months. They’ve reduced at least 2% of body weight for one in three participants within their healthy eating habit pathways. On the business side, employees using LifeDojoreport job satisfaction improving by 17% within 120 days. Absenteeism was reduced by 9% and employee engagement improved by 23% over the same period. In terms of overall platform engagement, LifeDojo reports rates three times the industry average. 

But healthy habits are just the bunny slope.  

Here’s why. When an employee works through a simple 12-week healthy habit module, a couple of important things happen, says Cutter. They gain confidence – I can actually change! – and they gain trust in their health coach. This, then, becomes what Chris calls a “soft onramp” to a broader suite of services. Working with a health coach on eating less sugar, for example, builds the trust necessary to decide one day to tackle weight loss or type II diabetes in a meaningful way. The health coaching isn’t an end to itself. It’s a set-up for a contextualized, warm hand-off at just the right moment. 

Under this paradigm, Cutter sees LifeDojo transitioning from the role of vendor to that of consultant. 

“We’re not just a primary prevention app that gets referrals done. Employers will see us as the one who knows what works and what doesn’t in the digital health space. There are thousands of solutions out there. We will be the trusted go-to resource.”  

It’s an ambitious goal, one which puts LifeDojo at the center of the next phase of digital health, and puts employees in greater control of their quality of life.

Connect: Message founder/CEO Chris Cutter on StartUp Health HQ or email lifedojo@startuphealth.com.

Learn: Read the LifeDojo Tear Sheet 

Article Source: https://hq.startuphealth.com/posts/this-social-worker-turned-ceo-built-the-ski-school-for-the-digital-health-ecosystem