Integrative Nutrition Blog
Lindsey Witmer Collins Helps Grads Change the World with Personalized Health Coach Apps
Technology is perhaps the only issue affecting modern life as powerfully as the global health crisis. Like the health crisis, technology can be something that stunts our growth as humans (remember Wall-E, anyone?), or an opportunity for positive, far-reaching transformation. IIN grad Lindsey Witmer Collins has made it her mission to make sure it’s the latter, harnessing the power of technology to unite and empower people in the name of wellness.
While a student at IIN in 2010, Lindsey had an idea that would keep her up all night: she wanted to build a Health Coach app. In fact, she spent her entire spring vacation writing a business plan, sketching out screens while in a hot tub at Costa del Sol. The fact that she’d never built an app before didn’t faze her. “Some cliffs just beg to be jumped off,” she says. She received a seed grant in 2011 to build the app, and got to work. After much trial and error (and time and money, and consultation with an engineer and MIT professor), MyOmBody launched, and made a huge splash in the tech world, being named one of the “Ten Startups to Watch” by the Boston Globe.
Lindsey’s experience building the app left her bothered by how difficult it is for anyone not in the tech world to get an app out in the market. With mobile devices being an increasingly integral part of our lives, this sets non-tech entrepreneurs at a significant disadvantage.
“The software we’re seeing and interacting with on our phones, which we check an average of every 6 minutes, is affecting who we are and who we’ll become,” Lindsey explains. “This unheard-of level of influence is why our phones have surpassed television as the most valuable advertising real estate in the world.”
This means that mobile allows for huge reach, big change, and connection on an unprecedented level. Without technical training, though, Health Coaches can’t tap into this rich reservoir—something Lindsey knew needed to change. “IIN graduates are the kind of people who have messages worth spreading,” Lindsey says. “If we’re able to put positive, life-affirming content on people’s phones, then we can have a real impact on things.”
With this vision as her inspiration, Lindsey set about building Health Coach apps for other IIN graduates. They share the same core software, but each is tailored to the unique Coach, focusing on a specific health niche or including special features. Users get daily content from the Coach, providing a sort of curriculum in bite-sized pieces, which helps keep the user and Coach connected. Lindsey has built 15 apps so far, and they promise exciting possibilities for the future: there are progress tracking tools, journal prompts, factual information, inspirational content, video, voice, images—basically anything you can dream up, Lindsey can make happen.
The apps have accelerated the Health Coaches’ reach by 7 to 40 new downloads per day, amplifying their list growth rate by up to 400%. “An app is definitely a good way to build a following fast,” Lindsey says. With nearly 18,000 downloads so far on every continent (except Antarctica), Lindsey’s vision of creating a positive impact on the world through technology is already becoming real. Or, as she modestly puts it, “with mobile, you can sweep the globe pretty darn fast.”
Despite the success, the acclaim, and the validation of seeing her vision realized, when I asked Lindsey about the most rewarding part of her experience, her answer was simple: “Making new friends. The software is for friends, and friends I haven’t met yet.”
And she means it. Her goal is to launch 50 new apps this year and reach 100,000 phones around the world. She’s so passionate about this goal that she’s giving 10% off to any IIN grads who read this post and want an app of their own. Just get in touch with Lindsey, mention this article, and you’ll be on your way to making your Health Coaching career more successful than you’d ever imagined. If you want to learn more first, check out her new webinar.
Take a look at the inspiring stories of some of the IIN grads Lindsey has helped so far:
Lacy Young came to IIN to solve personal health issues, but soon fell in love with working with clients; so when she found out about Lindsey’s apps through Facebook, signing on was a no-brainer. Not only did the app allow her voice reach people she’d never met, but it also set her apart from the crowd. “It felt like a rare and wonderful thing to have an app,” she says. “In a sea of business cards, I now share my app!” Launching the app, Kale Yeah, has grown Lacy’s client list and changed the way she feels about her business. “The process of writing the content and creating the app has helped me get really clear on my brand,” she says. “You can absolutely feel me in the app! It’s full of valuable information delivered in a kind and loving way, with a heaping helping of humor.” In fact, she’s been so encouraged by the response to Kale Yeah that she’s started writing content for a second app. “Creating apps and working with Lindsey is addictive—in a good way!”
As a former school principal who had struggled with weight problems and extreme stress before transforming her life with healthy eating and exercise, Sue Kemple felt driven to help others do the same. Still, when Lindsey announced in a private Facebook group that she would be making personalized apps for Health Coaches, Sue wasn’t interested. “I was quite busy with a new project at the time and didn’t think I needed to bother with my own app,” she says. After some nudging from Lindsey, Sue climbed on board. The result is Campus Coaches, a service that provides employees in schools with a cost-free wellness program, as well as financial compensation—and a foot in the door—for the Health Coaches working with the schools. “It’s an awesome app, and I’m very optimistic about its success,” Sue says. “It’s uniquely designed to address the needs of teachers.” Looking forward, Lindsey will help Sue build an app that focuses on students. “I’m excited about working with Lindsey again,” Sue says. “She is a model entrepreneur with amazing insight, dogged determination, and a joyful spirit that infuses everything she does.”
María José Flaqué
“I was in love with the idea,” says María José Flaqué of her reaction upon hearing about Lindsey’s offer to build personalized Health Coach apps for IIN alums. Maria had come a long way already—before enrolling in IIN, she’d used food and lifestyle changes to treat her own fibromyalgia, anxiety, and depression—and was eager to help others in similar situations, particularly Latin American women. After realizing that no Spanish-language apps used an integrated, holistic approach to wellness, Maria knew she needed to fill that gap, and Lindsey helped her do so, creating Mujer Holistica. “I’m super happy,” she says. “Our app was downloaded hundreds of times in its first month in countries like Mexico, Chile, Spain, and Columbia.” In the future, Maria hopes to reach more Spanish-speaking countries, giving resources to women who don’t have access to holistic Health Coaching while also expanding her practice. “I see both my app and my practice growing,” she says. “It’s very exciting!”