How an app developed in Columbus wants to make you healthier — mind, body and soul
Being health-conscious can require a lot of tools — an app to track your fitness, a journal to keep notes, a trainer to keep you on track. But what if one app provided all those tools and more? That’s what Columbus entrepreneur Morgan Koth and his startup, OptimumU, hope to provide. The app includes a health and wellness score, a place to journal, a tracker for your food and a variety of other features that add up to an app that can help your body and mind.
“OptimumU Health and Wellness is an application for mobile phones that syncs with Apple HealthKit and the Apple Watch,” said Koth. “We want to be an all-inclusive and holistic app where users can do basic things like log food and exercise but also do breathing, mindfulness and gratitude journaling, stretch, de-stress and more.”
For Koth, his first entrepreneurial venture is a personal one. He had always been interested in fitness and eating healthy, but an alarming visit to the doctor made him question whether his approach was effective and right for his body as a whole.
“I went to the doctor to get a full blood work done, and it turned out I had hypothyroidism,” said Koth. “I said, ‘That can’t be right. Let’s do it again,’ but another test said the same thing. The doctor told me I had to take a pill every day and I didn’t accept that. I started eating differently, exercising and changed my lifestyle. When I went back in six months, everything was perfect — from my thyroid to my cholesterol. I realized it wasn’t just counting steps, getting eight hours of sleep or dieting. It’s everything you do throughout the day that matters.”
While Koth thought over his next steps, his father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. As he worked with his dad, Koth grew frustrated with the lack of specific steps prescribed by doctors. Without a diet or exercise regimen, Koth felt their treatment was incomplete, and decided he wanted to provide holistic guidelines for people that encompassed everything from their sleep to their meals and their workouts.
“That’s where OptimumU really started to develop,” said Koth. “I realized that what we really needed from a health and wellness app that was somewhere to track everything in a user-friendly way. We started from scratch for the interface so that it was easy to use, and we gave people a way to track all these things in their daily lives. I think it fills a void — people are looking for an app that tracks everything they need and gives them a score, an idea of how they’re doing.”
Koth’s background is in industrial machinery, so he needed some assistance bringing his ideas to fruition. He connected with the software developers at Columbus’s Big Kitty Labs, who built him a website and helped him create exactly the application he had in mind.
“Big Kitty Labs has been fantastic; they’ve been such a big help throughout this whole process,” said Koth. “I’ll draw them a design — and I draw like a 3-year-old — and they’re able to bring it to life. So many people out there have ideas at a high level, but to make the idea a reality and actually get it to market is really hard. They brought my idea to the point where we’re getting ready to do marketing campaigns and SEO and all the little things it takes to get to the next level. This isn’t something I could have done by myself.”
After moving to Columbus in 2002, Koth said he’s been blown away by the opportunities for entrepreneurs in Ohio. Invigorated by the youthful energy and talent of the city, he believes strongly this in the right place to grow OptimumU.
“This city is a great place to connect with people,” said Koth. “There are a lot of young, talented people and opportunities to meet and get to know people who might be able to open doors for you. In Columbus and across Ohio, people are putting effort into helping entrepreneurs. You can see it in the work spaces and the incentives to bring people downtown. I think it’s great, and it’s definitely growing every day.”