Fitzen starts

FitZen's Grimm, Ling and Zhou as they await the judges' decision.
Photo: Joshua Clark

As doctoral students in kinesiology and nutrition, Heather Grimm and Chenyi Ling are very interested in seeing people adopt healthy lifestyles. They noticed the rising use of health-management apps and wearable activity trackers, but they also felt “current apps are underdeveloped. We wanted to create an app with the fullest potential to help people live healthier [lives],” says Grimm.

So they did just that: created an app, and a start-up company to go with it, called FitZen. The product is actually “an app-based consulting service that intercepts physiological data collected during … daily physical activity to design a training [improvement] plan,” according to the company (which also includes UIC business student Huizhang Zhou).

FitZen then entered—and made it to the final round—of UIC’s 10th annual Concept2Venture business-plan competition. The team won $500 for advancing so far in the “Shark Tank”-style contest, and impressed one judge so much that he plans to invest $1,000 of his own money in the young company. They hope to launch the app publically later this year.

Grimm says they learned from the competition that, “There is a very big gap between the way a scientist thinks and a business person thinks,” but adds that both she and Ling still, “are hoping to become entrepreneurs focused on health-related technology businesses to improve people’s quality of life.”