Today I got to interview Bogdan Gerya of Optimize Me. I hope you enjoy!
Links from the Show:
ARI: Welcome to Less Doing Show. I’m speaking to Bogdan Gerya, who is the founder and creator of the OptimizeMe app. Hi, Bogdan.
BOGDAN: Hello, Ari. Thanks for having us.
ARI: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. So tell everybody what the OptimizeMe app is right away, to start with.
BOGDAN: OptimizeMe is a life logging app that interprets your activity data. It allows you to track your activities throughout the day, the places you visit and people you meet, and you can in addition also log things like your stress level, your health status, quality of your sleep, your weight, and other health metrics. It also integrates with Moves, an activity tracker which automatically recognizes things like running, cycling, walking, and even locations where you go.
The interesting thing is that OptimizeMe pulls all this data together and tries to discover new connections between things like how much steps you do and how well you sleep, how much you exercise and how does it affect your weight, and so on. It’s really the interpretation of data we are focusing, and the basic goal behind it is to make people more mindful about what they are doing during the day, and also try to understand how they can change basically their behavior.
ARI: Right. I think what you’re capturing here is so great, because there’s a ton of different ways that people can track stuff. There’s the Fitbit, there’s the Basis. There’s all these ways to track things, but pretty much none of them really automate the part of optimizing it in terms of showing you the correlations and what do you do. I’m really into that cause and effect and that awareness, so I think that’s a huge leap forward.
How detailed are you getting with that stuff? Can you break down the kinds of food you’re eating and the effects that they have on your sleep or your energy or whatever? Or how much detail can you get?
BOGDAN: Basically, OptimizeMe is as detailed as you want it to be, because you have the standard part of OptimizeMe, which is for every user, and you have the customizable part, where you can add all sorts of nutrition supplements or activities that you personally are doing and want to see an effect on your life. Then OptimizeMe incorporates this data into the analysis. So as much data as you give, the more insights you will get out of it.
ARI: Gotcha. How are you tracking? You use Moves, which is great, but what about things like sleep? How are you tracking that stuff?
BOGDAN: Right now, OptimizeMe just works similar to other trackers. You just start and stop. The good thing is that sleep tracking, as it currently works with devices like Fitbit or Jawbone, they produce a pattern of how much you wake up and how much you
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but the real point about sleep is how well, like the quality of sleep, how well do you feel after you wake up. This is something you can only measure subjectively, so that’s something you can add in OptimizeMe. After you just wake up, you say, “Okay, that was a good night’s sleep”; otherwise, it was not, and then you get correlations of what actually influences this.
ARI: Are you planning on integrating with any other tracking services?
BOGDAN: Yes, certainly, we do. We are currently working on integrating other devices and also some apps. It also makes sense to integrate some external data. Let’s say like weather, because it has a lot of impact on how we feel during the day and what we do. We’re receiving a lot of feedback from users regarding what they would like to see integrated, and we have to carefully prioritize this right now.
ARI: Gotcha. I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this up; what is the name of the virtual coach that you’ve decided to create?
BOGDAN: (laughs) It’s called Ari.
ARI: Okay, and why is that? Do you know someone named Ari who has affected this?
BOGDAN: It’s really funny, because I remember seeing your talk at TED, but I didn’t remember your name, and it’s funny that it would make so much sense to basically call Ari after you. But I have to admit that we did come up with “Ari” for a different reason, because we were looking for something related to artificial intelligence, and somehow we wanted it to sound like a normal name. So we came up with Ari. But it would actually be a perfect match.
ARI: What was funny is the reason that I actually found out about your app was that somebody tweeted me and they said, “Oh, I just saw this Optimize app, and the virtual coach is named Ari. Is there any relationship?”, and I was kind of intrigued. I thought that was very funny; I had to check it out. It turns out that it is a very, very cool app. Again, identifying those correlations is so huge. Did you have some issue, some personal issue that made you come to this creation?
BOGDAN: It wasn’t like a big personal issue. It was more that I was, again, making my New Year’s resolution two years ago, and somehow I figured out I wanted to change so many things at once, like on the social side, also how much exercise I wanted to do, but also spending time with people I want and with activities I want and so on. I figured out I have to somehow track it to make myself accountable for this.
First I started to just put things together in Excel until I basically realized, “Okay, it’s too tedious and there needs to be a better way to do it.” I also came up with – I learned about other people who are doing basically the same. The entire Quantified Self movement, they’re all working with Excel sheets still, because there’s too much data that they want to collect but there are no tools to do it properly on your mobile phone. Actually, we’ve received a lot of comments who say that “I finally deleted my Excel or put it aside, at least, and started to use OptimizeMe for doing all this.” Which is a great thing, because those guys are really into hardcore optimizing and tracking.
ARI: Yeah, absolutely. What are some of the things that you are planning on integrating more? Would you go as far as blood test results, like from InsideTracker, or even genetic testings, that kind of stuff, or not that deep? I know you said you go as detailed as you want, but I’m curious.
BOGDAN: Yeah, true. It makes sense to integrate those devices that are used by many users currently. Moves was a very reasonable solution because it tracks so much and it’s so effortless, and it also is an app, so you don’t need to invest $150 bucks to buy it. But there are just a lot of trackers, like Fitbit and Jawbone and also Withings, which has a great user base. As we currently received feedback, they would love to see their data integrated, so that’s what we are working on right now.
But I see that it would be really interesting to also get into more healthcare-related data. I just think for the first moment, it’s a bit too much. Also because of the correlation analysis, it shouldn’t – the goal of OptimizeMe is not to provide medical advice.
BOGDAN: It’s important to be a bit cautious about it.
ARI: Yes, absolutely. Do you have any plans for any physical devices, or it’s all going to be app-based?
BOGDAN: I guess currently it’s our main [inaudible 00:09:05] to really interpret the data, not to provide some additional device.
ARI: I know, I totally agree. I think, again, that’s particularly useful. I mean, the things that people are able to do with those correlations is what is so useful, of course. Well, great. Bogdan, I really appreciate that. I like to do these sort of quick conversations about these really cool new apps that come out. Where can people find out about the app and download it and start trying it out?
BOGDAN: Yeah, that will be great. We saw a lot of people already downloaded this app – actually, a bit more than we expected.
ARI: Can you give the URL to everyone?
BOGDAN: Yeah. Basically it’s around 20,000 downloads right now. It’s like after five days. Yeah, five days. That’s not bad.
ARI: Yeah, absolutely. But can you tell everybody the website address?
BOGDAN: Yeah, the website address it just optimizeme-app.com.
ARI: Great. Bogdan, thank you so much. I really recommend everybody try the OptimizeMe app and get some additional virtual coaching from Ari. I look forward to the future integrations and correlations that you guys come up with.
BOGDAN: Thanks a lot, Ari. Thanks for having us.