They swear The Social Network had nothing to do with it. Yes, Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer went to Harvard, just like famed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, they both are chomping-at-the-bit entrepreneurs, just like you-know-who. Yes, they both hope to make it big in the social-media space, like...well, you know. But that is it! They swear!
They will tell you -- no, they will insist -- that the motivation behind going into business together was a class about the motivation behind everything. Behavioral economics struck a chord in both of the young bloods, Harvard freshman at the time. It offered answers to such big questions: what drives people to succeed? What makes them work hard? What keeps people going and going and going? For one, a reward, especially dough. Consistency ranked high, but fear of loss (mainly of dough) soared higher. Yifan and Geoff wondered how to put such insights into practice. They paced, pondered, and brainstormed. Then they went their separate ways: he consulted about pricing in the medical industry, and she started up a style dot-com. But then they got together again and realized something: people need to exercise. It's healthy for the body and mind. Unfortunately, Americans aren't slimming down anytime soon. So what, the pair asked, would motivate people to work out? Dough!
Three months ago, Yifan and Geoff launched GymPact.com, a mobile app that uses cash incentives to get folks to exercise regularly. In other words: YOU CAN EARN BUCKS (reward!). You just have work out regularly (consistency!). If you don't, you pay up (fear of loss!). So far, 35,000 folks are signed up and sweating it out. Just call them case studies for behavioral economics. As for Yifan and Geoff? We might be calling them the next Mark Zuckerberg.