Meet Victoria Repa, the CEO and Founder of BetterMe, a leading behavioral healthcare company, taking care of the physical and mental health of 100M users worldwide. I was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Technology category. Also she is a Stanford Executive Program as well as Apple Entrepreneur Camp alumna.
At BetterMe they stand for a holistic approach to Health and Wellbeing, and that is why there are two main apps in their collection: BetterMe Health Coaching and BetterMe Mental Health. Their apps have been on the Most Downloaded Health & Fitness Apps list since 2018.
We teach people to let their unrealistic expectations go and focus on long-term success instead. You can’t get to a goal by disregarding your mental health, going on restrictive diets, or pushing yourself to the limits with exhausting workouts. The only way to keep the result permanent is to focus on your body’s needs and recalibrate your mindset.
BetterMe is a platform that helps users cultivate new healthy habits, and transform them into a healthy lifestyle.
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Thank you for accepting my interview invitation! I’d love to know how you ended up becoming an entrepreneur? Tell me your story.
Victoria Repa: I have always had a passion for making the world a healthier place. Although I was a complete stranger to the field of IT, I was a self-driven and curious learner, which eventually led me to become a founder and the CEO of BetterMe, a leading behavioral healthcare company.
I was born in Ukraine, in Donetsk oblast, the one that was occupied by Russia in 2014, into a family where everyone struggled with their weight, and I was always told that weight was a family problem and that there was nothing I could do about it. Even as a teen, I knew that finding an effective solution to this challenge would not only make me happier but could also help others who struggle with similar issues.
Working at a large corporation, I recalled my teenage plans of building my own company to make health and fitness more accessible to people worldwide. By then, I was sick of going through boring gym workouts and wondered if there were others who felt the same way.
So at 24, I left a job to pursue my childhood dream. My idea was to build an app that would make losing weight fun, easy and convenient for every person.
In 2017, along with a small team, I released BetterMe, the first app featuring personalized fitness and diet plans. Today, we’re proud to have two successful apps: BetterMe: Health Coaching and BetterMe: Mental Health. Now the company has more than 100 million users worldwide.
Tell our readers what your company does differently than your peers and why that difference is so important to your audience?
Victoria Repa: BetterMe cares about the mind just as much as the body
BetterMe is formed around the principle that an active, healthy lifestyle is available to everyone, but that can only happen once you’ve got your mind right and eliminated the bad habits that dragged you down in the first place. Devised by a team of dieticians, coaches, and psychologists and armed with that data, BetterMe generates a well-rounded wellness plan that includes traditional diet and workout efforts with cutting-edge psychology training centered around the tenets of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
I used my personal experience to help millions of people with BetterMe
Everyone in my family has always been overweight. Thus, they believed weight gain to be an inevitable outcome caused by so-to-say “bad genes” and as a result, did nothing to “break the circle”. That’s what I believed in for longer than I’d like to admit. All throughout my childhood, people never skipped a chance to remind me that weight loss is a dream well out of my reach. But I decided to act instead of just sitting on my hands and feeling sorry for myself. So I tried many ways to lose weight and build a healthy lifestyle and one day I stumbled upon what worked for me.
People are the key to BetterMe’s success
I’m truly lucky to work with some of the smartest people in the industry. Every day, we learn from each other. We never fail to impress one another. We hype each other up and always bring our A game to work. Sky’s the limit for the BetterMe company with employees like that!
Running a business, your’s or on behalf of someone requires great leadership skills. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as you took on a leader’s role and what did you learn?
Victoria Repa: As far as you know, on 24 February Russia started a full-scale war in Ukraine, and now we are fighting for freedom, democracy, and justice in the whole world. BetterMe is a Ukrainian healthcare company that takes care of the physical and mental health of more than 100 million people worldwide.
As the full-scale war started, I realized that this war is the biggest challenge modern Ukrainians are being forced to face. They haven’t taught you what decision to make in wartime, even in an MBA program. The situation made you think and act differently to protect your homeland, business, and team.
When we talk about other challenges the team and I face, we should mention the compatibility of the market and mankind’s psychology.
Healthcare is a very competitive field, the global healthcare market is predicted to reach $665.37 billion by 2028, according to Verified Market Research. To be ranked among the top, you should know your clients’ needs from the inside out and be super flexible and open to change.
Over 5 years in the Health & Fitness market, we have been changing our tools, but we have never changed our values and strategy. With time, our focus transformed too according to our clients’ needs. In 2022, we are aiming at a healthy lifestyle and prioritizing mental health, as opposed to pushing for weight loss and dieting.
Moreover, BetterMe’s technology only gives a user a chance to choose between an unhealthy lifestyle and a healthy one, often it has no drawbacks, but a user still can’t reach his/her goals with its help. We believe the main problem lies in users’ attitude to their lifestyle, as every technology is only an instrument helping to achieve results, but the real power is in the hands of the one using it.
Success is not an accident. What are some routines and habits you learned to master that contributed to your current success?
Victoria Repa: My business and life principles are “Fail cheap and fast”, “Speed is everything”, “Test and learn”. Thanks to them, BetterMe has served 100 million users worldwide over the course of just 5 years.
I think the key to my success is also my discipline. I never deviate from my routine. I managed to form a regimen that makes me very productive and at the same time protects me from burnout.
My regimen is centered around my diet and physical activity. I believe that overall productivity (both mental and physical) depends on the energy that we get from nutrition and sport. With this in mind, I schedule personal and business tasks accordingly. I consistently stick to my training and eating schedules even when traveling, during holidays, and on weekends.
The brain is afraid of uncertainty. The main rule of self-discipline is a well-built strict schedule. It keeps you on track and brings stability into your life. We are limited in time, so it is important to prioritize and follow the daily routine.
I fast 23 hours a day, so I have one hour per day in the morning to squeeze in a balanced meal. It always consists of vegetables, extra virgin oils, and has no sugar. This routine helps me to focus. After this, I often schedule creative activities, like brainstorming for ideas, problem-solving tasks, data analysis, etc. In the afternoon, there is the time for meetings with my team and partners. In the evening, it is crucial to let the body unwind, so I meditate or do Kundalini yoga. That helps to change focus from business to personal.
Can you share with us defining moments in your journey, please give us details and stories to illustrate?
Victoria Repa: BetterMe is a healthcare Ukrainian company, with a Ukrainian founder, and team. The biggest challenge we have ever faced is the Russia-Ukraine war. We had to transform most of our operational processes to keep serving our clients.
Together with managing business-related matters, it has been crucial for us to do what we can to help Ukraine fight for our freedom, democracy and justice.
Unilaterally, with the whole team, we decided to:
- donate $40,000 to the Savelife.in.ua foundation, which supports the Ukrainian army.
- provide free access to the BetterMe Mental Health application for Ukrainians
- start caring about children’s mental health, namely gathered Ukrainian fairy tales in BetterMe: Mental Health
- negotiate with our partners, big technological companies their support to Ukraine, tech companies and developers
- stop serving Russian users and encouraged them to support Ukraine through push notifications in our applications
- send push notifications to 2.5 million international users calling for help to Ukraine,
PR team works with international media and bloggers to spread real news about the situation in Ukraine.
- – appeal to international tech companies to send notifications to their users to support Ukraine and make donations in support of the Ukrainian army
- – start giving free access to those donated to Altruisto polish foundation.
What are the five things you wish someone had told you before you became an entrepreneur?
Victoria Repa: I wish someone had told me to be persistent and confident, no matter what. It’s good to always look ahead, not behind. I am interested in Eastern practices and my favorite mantra is “Act and don’t react” which never fails to ground me.
It is also worth keeping in mind that change is inevitable, so you have to be flexible enough not to let it get you off track. The environment in which a product exists is constantly changing (in 2020 it was COVID, today it’s the war). It’s important to remember your goals, but stay flexible.
Oftentimes we hear: “Your network is your net worth”, please share your thoughts on that adage and illustrate your experience.
Victoria Repa: My team is my net worth. One of my main tasks as a leader is to create an environment where talent can thrive. To foster this environment, we at BetterMe give voice to every team member. Managers listen to every idea and help implement the best ones and test them on the products themselves. Every team member has the freedom to be creative and at the same time has responsibility for the outcome.
What are some professional or even personal goals you plan on tackling during the 2022 year? Share the battles you expect to face.
Victoria Repa: The current situation in my homeland made me reanalyze my previous professional and personal goals. Now I have 3 main values, my team, my business and my homeland, and my main goals for 2022 are connected with them:
- Safety of team members;
- Consistency of business;
- Ability to quickly react to possible new challenges;
- Helping Ukrainians improve their physical and mental health, so we were prepared to rebuild what has been destroyed or damaged.
With all the social media platforms available, it’s increasingly difficult to be present everywhere. Which ones do you favor for your company and why?
Victoria Repa: BetterMe is present on every social media platform, because it is highly important to have our finger on the pulse and interact with our users to see what blind spots we should be working on or which direction we should be moving as a company. But if we were to choose one, it would be TikTok. According to our analysis, the majority of BetterMe’s users have already been using this platform or are planning to install it. That is why we’re trying to grow the company’s social media accounts as well as my own social media following.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Victoria Repa for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Victoria Repa or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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