Ask any successful businessperson or entrepreneur how they got to where they are and a majority of them will tell you about their idea, their dedication, their innovation, or their acumen, but you know what they don’t mention often enough? Their team. We have all heard the saying that behind every great man, there stands a woman. Well, behind every successful CEO, there stands their team, and a wise CEO admits it.
An innovative idea only gets you so far if you don’t have the right team to help you implement it. All the business knowledge in the world might help you run a company, but it doesn’t help you fulfill every important role within it. Disrupting an entire industry cannot merely be accomplished by one man, and that’s a fact that Mike Tinney, CEO and Founder of FIX Health, doesn’t let anyone forget.
FIX Health is a tech company that created A Step Ahead, a wellness app that incorporates story lines and game-based wellness challenges. The app was designed for SMB managers and CEOs to incorporate into the workplace with the initiative of motivating staff to get healthy, thereby raising staff retention, and it has been incredibly successful in achieving these goals. What makes this company even more revolutionary is the fact that any time you ask Tinney how he found success, he mentions his team by name.
The Leaders at the Helm
Tinney is an intellectual, visionary, and game designer who simply believed that people didn’t prioritize their health.
“My thesis was that people have a hard time being consistent with their own health. I was thinking, ‘what would it take for me to do a 10K and three days after, do another one?’” he said. “My mind just started to go down the rabbit hole after that. I started to ask, how do I architect a habit-reinforcing game that changes the way I prioritize this from a chore to a delightful activity that is immediately gratifying? I started to apply some game design theory to that idea, and here we are.”
As he works with more and more businesses, Tinney has shifted his thinking and started to think of health and wellness a little differently, much of which can be accredited to his co-founder team.
Standing next to Tinney from nearly the very beginning of FIX Health is Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer Jeff Abeles. You might assume that because these leaders work with a wellness app they all have a personal triumph story, but that applies in spades to Abeles.
If you met Abeles while he was in college, you may not recognize him now. He lost a lot of weight with the app he helped Tinney create, and he has a very personal, empowering relationship with weight management and personal health, which is one of many advantages he brings to the table.
“I had an opportunity early in my career to work with and appreciate the value of good design, and I was surprised that I ‘lucked into’ a great designer in Jeff, and a great Co-Founder,” said Tinney. “He really brings a level of polish that allows us to present, very credibly, against companies ten times our size and influence. Jeff has been there in the highs and lows and has been my confidant and wingman when it comes to those inevitable intersections where we try to determine what the right decision is and how aggressively we should pursue it.”
Growing the Team with more Co-Founders
Supporting the early years of FIX Health with their own expertise were Ali Thomason and AJ Kolenc.
Thomason has a background as a dietician and works for FIX Health as a clinician. According to Tinney, she is the toughest, most physically-active member out of everyone on the team, and she brings a lot of valuable, critical thinking to the organization. She started out as an intern, straight out of graduate school. Tinney and Abeles quickly realized that she had a lot to offer the company and she seamlessly moved into the new, lasting role of Health Lead.
“She’s a little bit like Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction,” joked Tinney. “When something goes wrong and we want it fixed, we send Ali in and step out of her way.”
Kolenc was the final co-founder to join the team, and he comes with a super rare mentality that the team values — he thinks like a designer but works as a programmer.
“Before he writes a line of code, he thinks about how someone is going to use the software and why. Most programmers approach their code in a more literal manner. If the design or wireframe doesn’t say ‘user hits a start button to go to the next screen’ many programmers will build both screens but not include a start button because it wasn’t asked for. He thinks several steps ahead and infers the use and intent of the code he writes. As a result, it has to go through fewer testing rounds and is more usable and bug-free out of the gate. He’s the best engineer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and I’ve worked with a lot,” said Tinney.
The team has two other aces up their sleeve in the form of Ben Russell and Misha Tomczak.
“Ben’s skillset is broader than we have any right to have in our organization. He can do portrait art, in game 2D and 3D, and animations. As a burgeoning creative director, he also does a lot of the writing and adventure plot development in the company. He’s a one stop shop for what people experience on the screen,” Tinney said.
Last but certainly not least is Tomczak. She works behind the scenes and is an integral part of the success of the team, running customer support and troubleshooting.
“Misha worked for me in another business as a bartender at a restaurant I own. We needed someone detail oriented here, who was a process builder, able to operate under pressure and customer demand. And it turns out bartenders have a lot of practice at that. It took a fair bit of convincing, but once she agreed she was all in. We have the luxury of giving her areas of oversight and then leaving her to run those parts of the operation. She’s cool under fire and wakes up caring about the company,” said Tinney. “She also has something like 10 cats. She’s our cat lady.”
As Tinney has made clear, his company is what it is because of the team surrounding him. Each member of FIX Health brings something valuable and unique to the table, and not a single thing goes unappreciated, right down to being a lover of cats. Tinney remains a fan of the adage, “First who, then what.” FIX Health is what it is and can do what it does because of the curious group of experts who live inside the organization. When we asked Tinney what his main job was he said “keep my team aligned on what’s next, and stay out of their way.”
About A Step Ahead
A Step Ahead, powered by FIX Health, is a wellness app that leverages technology and the expertise of FIX Health’s team of health professionals to help individuals take control of their health and wellness. The app is designed to enhance employee health and well-being by using the engagement techniques from video games to drive physical activity in employee populations. With its comprehensive features and access to FIX Health’s team of health professionals, A Step Ahead is the perfect tool for anyone looking to improve their health and well-being. For more information please visit https://astepaheadchallenge.com/challenges/