There’s nothing quite like feeling your FitBit buzz as you walk to class, knowing that you hit your step goal. Along with your time in the library (or on the couch binging Netflix) and in class, you’ve managed to hit 10,000+ steps for the day. But what if there was a way to do more with those steps than just feel good about your daily activity? Luckily for you, your steps can mean something with the help of TechArb team- StepFor.
Comprised of three University of Michigan students, the StepFor team has created a mobile app that allows users to translate their daily steps into donations to charity, at no cost to them. StepFor partners with socially-conscious corporations and non-profits to help connect users to the causes they want to support.
Simply put- you can easily connect your phone or fitness tracker (aka your FitBit) and from there, you can select the campaign you want to StepFor. StepFor tracks your steps, adding them to the campaign. When the campaign’s goal is met, the campaign ends and a donation is made to the organization.
This powerful application allows for everyday users to become involved socially, simply by meeting their step goals each day. But how did StepFor come to be? Co-Founder, Jordan Golshan (BBA ’17), says that their diverse team of business, engineering, and design students came together after a random meeting through the College of Engineering:
“I met my co-founder at an engineering demo day I attended. As a business student, I really wanted to branch out into the computer science and engineering network and so I started talking to EECS professors and eventually got invited to a demo day. I think our diversity of backgrounds and knowledge make us a much stronger team because of our ability to see things from various different perspectives.”
After meeting Co-Founder and Developer, Josh Hyorim Kim (BS ’17), at the demo day event, the duo aimed to help those who track their steps everyday to contribute to something bigger than just a step goal. And this, is where StepFor was born:
“We named our company StepFor because we wanted to allow people to StepFor something greater than themselves and support the people and causes they care about. What do you StepFor?” says Golshan. “We use FitBits and other fitness trackers as part of our app. StepFor isn’t just about tracking steps, it’s about contributing those steps to something you care about. We’re hoping that this will encourage our users to be more active and get excited about philanthropy.”
But the process of being full-time students in business and informatics and founding a startup comes with challenges, especially at one of the highest ranked public universities in the nation:
“Trying to find balance is one of the hardest parts about being a young entrepreneur. It’s difficult to juggle starting a company and being a full-time student with the full college experience. I’ve found that I’ve had to give up a few things in order to work on StepFor, but I make sure that I still have a fun and rewarding college experience with my friends,” says Jordan. “If you have an idea or are passionate about doing something, just go out and do it! Working on StepFor has been one of the highlights of my college experience because it’s given me the opportunity to learn by doing. Don’t be afraid to fail because I promise you’ll learn enough throughout the process for it to all have been worth it.”
Since joining TechArb, the StepFor team has kicked off their social media sites, met with mentors and other young entrepreneurs from around the country, and participated in various pitch competitions, even placing as a finalist in the Michigan Business Challenge within the Social Impact Track. Beyond the benefits of personal mentorship and goal-oriented deadlines, the TechArb atmosphere has proved to be helpful as a community of like-minded entrepreneurs:
“I think the most significant I’ve gained from being part of the TechArb cohort has been the relationships I’ve made. I’ve met some really smart, interesting, and insightful people who have been there to give me input and guidance when I need it.”
In addition to placing as a finalist, the team is currently gearing up for their pilot campaign with the American Cancer Society and MVMNT Spinning for the MRelay event in early April:
“These events are going to be great opportunities for us to try out our product and see how people react and how it works,” says Golshan. “We’re really excited to open this app up to Michigan students and their networks.”
Now is the time. Make your step goal, walk to class, or night out dancing worth something bigger than yourself. Get on board for the StepFor pilot program! You can find StepFor on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! Be sure to check out their website to keep up with their progress and their upcoming pilot program.
Interested in being a part of TechArb’s next cohort? Take a look at their webpage for the summer cohort application.
By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern