“I have always struggled to stay motivated to exercise, even when I did have free time,” Hero Trainer founder Yash Jain says. “I always chose gaming over exercising. It made me realize I cared more about my own character than my own health.” This was what inspired Jain, whose background is in biomedical engineering, to develop an app that would encourage gamers to be more physically active. The Hero Trainer app counts steps and translates into direct rewards for gamers on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo, by syncing with Google Fit or Apple health.
As an avid gamer himself, Jain was inspired by the Pokemon Go revolution, which motivated him to walk six miles to work instead of driving, hoping to catch new Pokemon. “In that first month of launch, it felt like world peace. People were outside exploring trails, all kinds of people from different generations were mingling, and small businesses were booming,” he explains. “However, people lost interest a few months later because they got bored…my vision was to develop an app that not only emphasizes fitness and social interaction, but also works for any game. This way you don’t have to get fit with a game you no longer care about.”
Before Hero Trainer, Jain had no background in developing consumer apps. However for his senior design project during his undergraduate biomedical engineering program, he developed a mobile app to detect seizures 10 minute before they occured. But Jain would find himself in a different career space and rather than work independently on the app development, he formed an intimate team of developers, also receiving guidance from his sister Juhee who is a graphic designer.
While the app serves as a place where you can monitor your steps and check out rewards, you can also play as a hero, compete in guilds and chat with other users. It operates as both a traditional gaming app that allows people to ‘play’ with a competitive spirit, while also taking advantage of its step counting features. Jain wants the image of gamers to fundamentally change as a result of the app. “The goal of Hero Trainer is two-fold – tackle obesity in the gaming space and rebrand the identity of gamers,” he explains. “Right now, when people think ‘gamers’, they think of the fat lazy guy sitting in their mom’s basement. We want to impact the identity on such a scale that when someone thinks ‘gamer’, they think of a fit person. It is a lofty goal, but it is one worth fighting for, because that’s what heroes do.”
The app’s interface design is clean, sleek and accessible, something Jain invested a lot of energy into. “People trust aesthetic and design over anything. It is strange, but even the worst products that have great user interface/ user experience or a website, will be able to pull paying customers,” he says. “If your product looks professional, users will think your company is successful and trendy. They will not only be more likely to rate your product higher, but also refer it to a friend, and even convert into paying customers.” He adds that this goes against the Silicon Valley way of “move fast and break things”, instead opting for his own version of “focus on one feature and make it beautiful”.
Despite knowing he had a great idea in Hero Trainer, the extent of the app’s initial success took Jain by surprise. “People I never thought would reach out to me did. Former NFL Player, Landon Turner reached out to me on Instagram to support Hero Trainer. eSports host Jess Brohard reached out to me regarding a potential collaboration for an upcoming mental health product she is working on. I learned that an impactful company mission will rally even celebrities to help your mission.”
Moving forward, Jain and his team are looking to expand Hero Trainer into a role playing game (RPG), where characters will have items, stats, skills and be able to engage in combat. Users have already walked a staggering one billion steps collectively, and one user even lost 30 lbs in two months using the app. For Jain, this is the real measure of success. “This is validation that I am making a difference in people’s lives”.
Find out more about Hero Trainer here.