Discover how Anthony’s boundless energy, belief that fitness should be accessible for people at all levels, and love of friendly competition inspired him to start MoveSpring. Now, having joined forces with Reward Gateway, he tells us about the experience of building MoveSpring, why they chose to partner with RG, and what’s coming next.
Hi Anthony! I know it's a big question, but… what inspired you to create MoveSpring in the first place?
I’ve been in and around the health and wellness industry for a while now — both in a direct-to-consumer role and on the side of an employer. And what kept me up at night was my realization that the journey of ‘health and wellbeing’, for any individual, can be vastly different and sometimes incredibly difficult.
I’m lucky and thankful that I’ve always been a sporty person: I was an athlete, have been training all my life, and motivation comes relatively easily to me. But as I’ve grown and heard the stories of people around me, I realized how hard it can be to get into health and wellbeing, especially as you get older or if you haven’t always been an active person.
And then I saw employers spending hundreds of millions of dollars on employee wellbeing strategies that weren’t working; they’d basically put a website in front of their employees and say “here’s your wellness program, good luck!”. I’d say 60-75% of businesses out there still do that. I knew there had to be a better way.
Better for the end users or for the businesses?
Both! But especially for the users. And it’s even worse now — 12–15 years ago, businesses might have offered 10 benefits. Today some are offering 200 plus, so it’s even more complicated and confusing for the user.
And the idea that your employer should be forcing this upon you is in itself kind of a flaw, too; your health journey should be organic. It should be something you discover on your own terms. Then your employer becomes almost a supplemented wallet — you can be like “hey, I want to do this, can you help me?” — it turns the entire business model around and actually saves everyone money and gets more people involved in the long run.
The more you understand and can empathize with people, the better your whole team’s lifestyle can be.
I’m guessing you must have been pretty instrumental in the talks with Reward Gateway and the acquisition. I can imagine a big deal — literally and figuratively — so how did you meet? What made RG the company you decided you ultimately wanted to work with?
I was pretty much running the M&A process from start to finish. We [MoveSpring] were in a very fortunate position where we didn’t need to sell, so we had plenty of time to think about it and really review our options in terms of partners and acquisitions.
It’s a long story of how we met, but I eventually connected to Doug [Butler, CEO, Reward Gateway] through some business partners. It didn't start out as this process of “hey, we're selling our business!”; I just wanted to connect to someone in the rewards industry.
When we’d previously looked into the process of selling or strategically partnering, we immediately knew we didn’t want to sell just for a financial outcome. That wasn't the purpose.
Well, we’d already had customers asking us for a Rewards & Recognition solution — so we thought it’d be pretty simple to start building that ourselves. Needless to say, we started digging into it and quickly realized it’s incredibly complicated. We immediately knew that to offer a quality R&R solution, we either needed:
- Significantly more resources, so a lot more capital to go and buy that expertise or;
- To partner with a company that had already built a world-class business in that space.
So I met Doug that way, through a mutual contact in the Investment Banking world. Our talks were ongoing when we finally retained our investment bank, Doug asked us for our pitch and offered to give us feedback. The next thing you know, he was like, “Hey, I think we're really interested in this and think you’d be a good fit with us”. But through the competitive process, we had six final bidders for MoveSpring.
So what made you go with RG?
The reason that we chose Reward Gateway was (and still is) their culture. When we looked across their brand, product, strategy teams, and company culture, they were just 10 out of 10 across the board.
And when we compared it to the other bidders, it got to a point where economics didn’t even really matter; even if there were deals that offered us more, RG became important to us because we felt we'd be able to retain the majority of our business, within the culture that Reward Gateway would provide.
Mergers and acquisitions are difficult for businesses of any size. However, Doug and Rob Boland and the leadership team proposed a merger where we could stay relatively autonomous, still have a lot of opportunity and control over our business, and figure out a way to grow together. We were reassured that they wouldn’t just acquire us and then wash their hands of our efforts.
Well, congrats on the acquisition! How are you feeling now that the businesses have gotten to know each other better? What’s coming up (that you can tell me about) over the next year or so that you’re excited about?
Oh I don’t mind being transparent — I wouldn’t tell you something I wouldn’t tell my colleagues or in public. There are a few things that come to mind that I’m really excited about.
One is that we were already in a strong position for organic growth with MoveSpring. Still, RG has been great at challenging us some more — offering us the opportunity to grow faster and get more resources if we’ve got a really good business case.
Two, is how I’m learning from RG about how we might not be thinking big enough, sooner. Like: I’ll always have a big north star of where the company should be going, but Rob has been great at challenging us. He’ll be like, “that's great, but is there anything else bigger you could be doing? What if you remove the guards or barriers you might be thinking about?”. That’s really exciting.
That’s really nice to hear. Finally, what about MoveSpring itself? What are you excited to launch on the platform soon?
Without a doubt, it’s the plans we have in place to expand the breadth of our platform and really make it a complete, holistic health and wellness destination for all of our users, with world-class content and features.
You know how we talk about empathy a lot? Look around at what’s on the market; people in the corporate wellness industry are still not understanding consumer trends and the individual needs of their users. Nobody’s looking at the technologies and tools people already use in their day-to-day lives and responding to that. But we know we can.
And, when consumer-grade tools are already so good, why are employers still pretending like sending their employees to some static, ancient intranet to inspire them to improve their health & wellness?
So our new features and content are being designed from the outset to reflect the ways people browse and get inspired now. And I’m incredibly stoked for that.
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