Redeem steps for rewards: MAGNiTT interviews Co-Founders of Steppi, Joe Franklin and Milos Savic

Steppi, a corporate software and community engagement platform that encourage people to be more active by allowing them to redeem their steps for rewards with the UAE's biggest vendors, recently announced their $720K Seed investment round from undisclosed investors. 

As a result of this announcement, MAGNiTT caught up with Steppi's Co-Founders, Joe Franklin and Milos Savic to explore the startup further, including their expansion plans, their thoughts on the most exciting things happening in the health and fitness world digitally right now, how the current climate has affected the platform, and much more.

Q1. To start, tell us briefly about Steppi. How does it work?

Steppi is a corporate wellness software and community engagement platform. We are addressing the issue of inactivity in the region by rewarding people for being active. Our purpose is to improve the wellbeing of the population. We have 2 models, B2B Corporate Wellness software and B2C Rewards app.

Q2. With the recent uptake in remote working, how has demand been affected (if at all) for Steppi’s platform?

Our corporate business wasn’t affected because our programs can be managed from anywhere. If anything, we saw an increase in the challenges our clients were running, as Steppi is a great tool to improve morale and keep teams active. We saw challenges being run for employees whilst they were confined to their homes, which was great to see. 

We continued to onboard vendors onto our rewards app throughout the lockdown and we have seen a huge increase in brands and businesses joining us since the lockdown restrictions have been relaxed. Brands like the flexibility we provide by allowing them to amend offers as often as they like via our vendor back end, which are then pushed to the app in real-time. We have also decided to support all the SMEs in the region with waiving off our onboarding fees. It is free to join our platform.

Q3. It is quite extraordinary that you managed to raise this round with the current COVID-19 crisis. Was this in the works from much earlier?

Yes, we started the conversation a the start of this year. The uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak delayed the round by a few weeks, but our investors share our vision and were very supportive throughout the process.

Q4. It’s safe to assume that after this round, you're going to have some exciting growth plans. Can you share some of Steppi’s short-term plans for expansion with us? 

We will be using the funds to expand our team and strengthen our technology platform. We are exploring opportunities in new markets with several partners also, and our focus for the next couple of months will be on the GCC region, but we are actively looking to scale globally.

Q5. What were you looking for from your investors, beyond capital?

We always want to work with people that can add value beyond the capital. Our first round investors had a strong background in development and technology, our new investors are serial entrepreneurs. 

Q6. What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling Steppi in MENA/beyond?

Corporate Wellness Software is still misunderstood by many companies. Businesses have always allocated budgets on small fitness events or wellness talks that deliver short term benefits. We need to change this mindset and bring these companies into the digital age. The importance of SaaS (Software as a Service) model will be a necessity in the future for all the companies, especially after COVID-19 - we have to look at how to improve the health of employees.   

Q7. In your opinion, what are some of the most exciting things happening in the health and fitness world (digitally) right now?

The advancement in wearable technology. Brands such as Garmin and Fitbit continue to innovate this space. As technology advances, we will see more and more people wearing these devices. Features will move more towards overall health rather than just physical fitness. 

Q8. What is your big-picture vision for the future of Steppi?

We always set out to make positive changes. 50% of UAE residents are considered as inactive, and almost 20% of the population suffer from diabetes. The big picture for us is being part of the solution to improve these statistics, first here in the UAE, then in other regions. 

Q9. Finally, what advice would you give to yourself five years ago? 

Believe in the process, follow your intuition, work hard, and be humble.

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The ongoing crisis has placed the Healthcare sector under a microscope unlike ever before. Learn all about the industry’s funding and investment trends in our 2019 MENA Healthcare Venture Investment Report