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iThrive – Empowering People to Grow

“We want people to be empowered; we want them to go from surviving to thriving,” said Nadja Muller – den Blijker, the founder of Dutch startup iThrive. As a part of our 2016 Digital Health batch, iThrive is working on a technology that encourages people to become more productive and motivated to change certain habits. Scroll down to find out how technology can accomplish this, where the idea behind iThrive came from, and what this startup is working on now.

“We use positive psychology in our application to get people to intrinsically have the motivation to change their habits”

iThrive is run by founder Nadja and co-founder Klaas Punselie. Their business focus is on motivating people to thrive and transform their productivity. You might have guessed from the name: they do this by using Virtual Reality. This technology has the ability to intensify the experiences people have, for example a coaching simulation or training.

“We are targeting people from 15 to 75 years old,” Nadja explained. “They are ready to use applications, they are digital natives and have the biggest need. Right now, we mainly focus on stress prevention and preventing burnouts. The largest burnout group at the moment is between the age of 25 and 35. By simulating coaching sessions in our virtual reality environment, we get people to intrinsically have the motivation to change their habits.”

“Our application is like a guardian angel on your shoulder”

“After people have had their training, workshop, or great coaching conversation, they have to go back and actually implement the things they have learned,” Nadja continued. “That’s often where it fails. Regular life takes over and it just isn’t top priority anymore to change one’s own behavior. This is where our application comes in and helps to really implement what you’ve learned in that training or coaching session.”

Besides targeting employees and working people, iThrive is also targeting lifestyle diseases with their technology. “At the core of any kind of lifestyle disease, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, or kidney problems, lies a behavior change”, Nadja said.

So how is iThrive’s application helping with this?

“Any time of the day you can check into the app and shift into a positive stage, for example by starting with guided meditation and consciously lower your heart rate,” said Nadja. “This is where you shift into a positive stage; from this stage onward you indicate in which area of your life you’re not living your values. This way you’re connecting with your own belief system, your intrinsic motivation. You could for example say you’re not happy with your health. In this virtual setting we can bring you into a place where you experience what it feels like to take care of yourself and be fully healthy.

“After that you’ll go into a brainstorm about how to better take care of your health and select some concrete tasks you’ll do and make a commitment. For example, you commit to doing a yoga exercise and not drink wine in the evenings for the next three days. After those three days you can check in and describe what went well and what didn’t go so well. From these you can make a new commitment, so you’re going from one commitment to the next.”

“What moves people is the most important thing. If you can get people to really connect with themselves and others, that’s when the magic happens”

Internal peace is the basis for iThrive. Nadja told us that if we are in peace with ourselves and feel safe in the world, we can be safe with other people too. When we feel safe, we’re in a positive stage and this is the stage in which our brain has amazing capacity. We’re able to give people the feeling of being seen, heard and understood. iThrive is all about supporting this idea.

During the Digital Health program, iThrive was able to work on their value proposition, market segment and business model. “We have made incredible jumps while being in the program”, Nadja said.

The startup has become a partner of healthcare organizations Pluryn and Health Valley. Together with Pluryn, iThrive can do their field test. The startup continues to look for more partnerships with other organizations, as the team wants more people to be performing and productive.

“Virtual reality is a very powerful tool that can get people to a place where they are empowered, where they feel fulfilled and where they can find their peace”


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