Photo: Tim Chang, Facebook photo
Why is a prominent game investor betting on health-related startups?We checked in with Mayfield’s managing director Tim Chang after we learned about his obsession for the quantified self movement, where people use gadgets to keep track of their health and fitness.
Chang made the 2011 Forbes Midas List of Top 100 Dealmakers, but in his free time you can see him on-stage performing with rock bands Coverflow and BlackMahal.
Business Insider: What is your involvement in Basis, the heart rate monitor?
Tim Chang: I helped to build the team and get the company in shape for venture funding – I met the founder at the Summit Series Miami conference several years ago, and spent 18 months helping him to build the company as a labour of love (I hadn’t invested at the time, but was just passionate about the idea and the solution). Eventually, the team came together and I led the Series A round while at Norwest Venture Partners
BI: Why do you think about this whole trend of the gamiifcation of health?
TC: I’m a firm believer that the only way we’ll fix our horribly broken healthcare system is by getting consumers to think about health and not healthcare.
Being healthy isn’t inherently fun per se, but could be made more engaging and actionable if it’s gamified, which starts with 1) measuring daily actions and decisions, 2) providing instant feedback and data back to users, 3) adding interactivity and game-like mechanics around this data to make health “playable” by users.
You almost need to “trick” the masses into being healthy, and gamiifcation is a great way to do this, as opposed to money-based sticks and carrots that standard healthcare and insurance systems try to use!
BI: Why are you interested in the quantified self movement?
TC: “Life is but a game.”
A game by definition is 1) a scoring system, 2) an objective for victory, 3) a set of clear rules to reach victory. In this sense, everything in our lives is an implicit game: getting into a good college, landing a good job, finding a significant other, and credit scores.
By making the scores more explicit and instantaneous in terms of feedback cycles, and wrapping interactive “play” around these scores, we can hopefully shape and influence consumer behaviours. Quantified self addresses the scoring and measurement part of the equation – but data itself is not engaging and measurement is not enough.
It’s only one leg of the 3 stools above, but it’s a critical start!
To me, this movement is still in its grassroots phase – just like the Homebrew Computer club back in the 70s when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were kicking around Apple prototypes.