By Paul Yau
One of the hottest new apps spotted in NYC is Yaye, a new (free) app created by New Yorkers who thought that getting healthy had to be easier. Yaye (pronounced Yay) is only a few months old but already counts Tyra Banks, Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch, and celebrity trainers among its fans. Here, co-founder Paul Yau tells us more.
So I’m Australian by birth, but consider myself a New Yorker after living here for 10 years. And marrying an American girl from the Midwest helped!
Here’s what I love about NYC — the pace, the intensity, and the never-ending options for staying fit and healthy. From SoulCycle to boxing to yoga, there are always new ways to get healthy. And all of these apps and FitBits were great to track this stuff and keep me accountable, right?
Not exactly. My wife liked logging her food, but she found it lonely and tedious. I liked logging workouts, but hated how it felt like a corporate timesheet. I left a FitBit behind in a hotel room, and didn’t love the idea of spending another $150 on a new one.
Here’s the other thing about Aussies — we think everything in life should be a bit more fun. We actually don’t think anything should be tedious or lonely. So one of my oldest friends, also an Aussie, and I started brainstorming. This guy, Mike Salvaris, had a fancy job as a consultant at McKinsey, and I wasn’t doing too bad either working in private equity, but we wanted something more fulfilling.
We started with the concept that there had to be a better way to stay connected to our friends and family, as well as use our phones in a better way to get healthier. We took a full year talking to leading trainers, dietitians, and our favorite SoulCycle instructors, but also psychologists and therapists to understand what keeps us from reaching our goals in health, money, career, and love. We poured over science and data on weight loss, we held focus groups and interviews, and we spent a LOT of time talking to our wives and their friends and basically anyone that would spend time with us. When we developed an early concept, before we built and launched Yaye, we ran an experiment with around a hundred people over a six-month period to see if our idea of connecting friends & family over a shared goal to get healthy & well together would actually work — and the results were so encouraging we started building the Yaye app.
We knew it had to be easy, it had to be free, and it had to work. Meaning, after just 2 weeks of using Yaye, we wanted you to be able to say that you were feeling closer to the friends or family in your Yaye group AND you were closer to your health goals, whether that was losing weight or eating better.
And the final product: Yaye, the first app that combines connection with health.
Here’s how Yaye works:
1. After you’ve downloaded Yaye (iTunes, Google Play Store), invite friends or family to join your group(s).
2. Set a simple health goal for the week (e.g. I want to workout 5 times/week) or choose one from our list of programs. Each person has to pick their own goal or you can do a program together.
3. Log your progress with a photo and some other data in a few taps, which is shared with your group. (This is what makes Yaye different and fun. You have to prove it with a photo!)
4. Let Yaye track all your progress and update you and your group along the way.
5. Have fun with your friends (chat, brag, encourage, trash talk…) and stay connected!
So I mentioned that we talked to so many experts in health and behavior when we were developing Yaye, and we also looked at research on how people got to their health goals — and more importantly, what prevents those goals. One of the biggest themes: When friends and family are involved in an individual’s health goals, they are much more likely to reach their mark.
This makes sense right? The best experts in the world will tell you to share your goals with those around you. It’s motivating, it leads to more accountability, it also leads to more opportunities. There is no shortage of health and fitness apps out there, but we kept hearing from people that they were just lonely and it wasn’t easy to incorporate friends and family.
So, why photos? First, photos make us more accountable and mindful. (A recent study out of University of Wisconsin found that people who took a picture of their food before eating were more likely to lose weight than those who didn’t take a photo of their food.) Interesting note — some of the top dietitians in the world ask their clients to take photos of their food and share with them, so we took this to the next level and ask that you share a pic in order to “prove” your progress towards a goal.
But connection also matters at Yaye — and if you and your friends are in a group, you don’t want to see a spreadsheet of their calories, but you would love to see photos of them! Maybe on a run, maybe cooking on a Sunday night. We have one particular group of friends who are all over the country, and Yaye has replaced their group texting because they love that they are encouraged to share their photos. And the photos WORK for getting healthier.
Yaye is being used for a number of things… here are some of the most popular:
1. Friends staying in touch who are also looking to get healthier.
2. Family, no longer in the same city, who want to be more fit
3. Wedding parties: brides, moms, bridesmaids, who are looking to get fit before the big day
4. Co-workers who want to motivate each other together
5. Training (ie, teams or friends who are training for a 10k, marathon or other event)
6. Working with an expert! Trainers, dietitians, or even SoulCycle teachers love using Yaye to stay connected to their clients once they’ve left the studio/gym/office…
So try it: Get connected, get healthy, share your goals and your pictures with your friends. What do you have to lose?
Paul Yau is a Co-Founder of Yaye. A native of Melbourne, Australia, he worked for over a decade of experience in private equity, M&A, and business development working at Macquarie Capital and Thomson Reuters. Paul is a former world competitor in Taekwondo. He lives in Battery Park with his wife Melissa, where they keep a stash of vegemite.
Mike Salvaris is a Co-Founder of Yaye. He is an avid boxer at WORK TRAIN FIGHT, and has an MBA from London Business School. Prior to Yaye he was a consultant at Mckinsey & Company in New York, DC, and London. Mike lives in the Lower East Side with his wife, Rachel, and their baby son.