Mazlo raises $10M for mobile behavior change programs

By Aditi Pai

Seattle-based Mazlo, which has developed an online behavior change coaching service, raised $10 million from Polaris Partners as well as Mazlo's cofounders, Tim Kilgallon and Sharon Ross. Polaris Partners was a key investor in Kilgallon and Ross' previous company, Free & Clear, and backed the team to create Mazlo.

Mazlo, which is named after Abraham Maslow, the founder of positive psychology, offers users a two-week program to help them improve aspects of their personal and professional life. The program is available via web app designed for smartphones, tablets as well as desktops. Some of the programs include mindful eating, 10-minute workout, constructive criticism, positive body language, confident speaking, and body maintenance. All programs are developed and run by experts in their respective fields. Every day for two weeks, users watch an on demand ten minute guided video tutorial. They can also message with a private coach one-on-one for the two weeks via text and video.

All coaches are employed by Mazlo, a practice the founders carried over from their last company, Free & Clear, which offered a smoking cessation program.

Free & Clear was acquired by Alere, parts of which were also later acquired, so it's now owned by UnitedHealth Group's Optum. While at Free & Clear, Kilgallon found that users only wanted to use the program for the first couple weeks. After that, they were self-reliant.

"With Mazlo we decided to make a couple of changes," Kilgallon told MobiHealthNews in an interview. "First, rather than helping people to end a bad habit, like smoking, we decided to help people to add new skills and capabitities that lead to success and fulfillment. And the second change is to take advantage of mobile. Where Free & Clear was a phone-based coaching company, which was successful in creating a human connection over the phone, we've created a means of doing that, creating the same kind of one-on-one connection, but doing that on mobile. Mobile has such enormous potential for coaching both in terms of increasing its efficiency. Also, its convenience and effectiveness."

Mazlo is available direct to consumer for $99 per program or as part of an employer package. For 50 people, employers only pay $89 per head, for 100 people it costs $79 per person, and for 250 people, employers pay $69 per person.

The copmany first launched its offering earlier this year and so far three companies have signed up as well as consumers who signed up directly on the site. In total, 650 people have participated in the program. While Mazlo has seen a much higher percent of people signing up directly, Kilgallon believes that in the future employers will be the primary driver of growth. 

"Kind of a common theme in healthcare tech is there's tons of apps, some of them more useful than others, and certainly many of them are more useful than using a book, but they still are self help," Kilgallon said. "Sometimes we wonder why they call it self help. When it comes to personal development, it's basically on your own. Adding the human component to it, we think, substantially increases the effectiveness of the outcome."

Last year, a similar service, called Change Collective launched. The company, based in Boston, developed an iOS app that offers behavior change courses ranging in price from free to $19.99. The initial launch included five courses -- each of which runs from one to three weeks -- focused on becoming an early riser; finding work-life balance; managing bodyweight by working out; organizing your email inbox; and breathing exercise to lessen stress. Recently Change Collective had one of their meditation programs go viral: 10 percent Happier. Also worth noting: The company's cofounder Ben Rubin was also a cofounder of sleep tracking company Zeo.