After the success of his first start-up, ilos Videos, Sean Higgins ’12, ’14 MBA exited that company in 2017 and launched BetterYou, a digital coaching app to help users make the most of their time and achieve their goals. BetterYou was recently named a 2020 Minne Inno’s Inno on Fire award winner in the early-stage start-up category.
Higgins considers himself a prime example for what BetterYou is all about. He feels personally connected to the mission because he recognizes the feeling of realizing you’ve been wasting time on your electronic device when you could be using it to reach goals like building relationships, pursuing passions or learning new skills. BetterYou aims to help users spend their time in ways that directly prioritize what’s important to them. As he put it, “When you corner me in the street and say, ‘Sean, YouTube or Mom?’ I say Mom, but I’m picking YouTube week in and week out.”
Users of the app prioritize the goals that are important to them, whether it’s calling Mom three times a week or going to the gym every day. BetterYou then runs in the background to track progress toward that goal and send reminders when needed. “We don’t require manual entry, because the phone can do all the heavy lifting. My phone can give me credit for talking to Mom this week. It can give me credit for going to the gym based on location. [BetterYou] lets you set the goals and will log your progress, and then we’re there when you’re at risk of falling off,” Higgins said.
Higgins launched BetterYou in October 2018. The company, which sells the app to organizations including employers and higher education institutions, already has 24 paying customers, and has sights set on growing that number soon. Higgins credited this success to the team he has built, as well as support and growth as a St. Thomas student.
"Whether it’s learning more about business at a strategy level with Professor Micahel DeVaughn, or trying to segment a market in the best way with Professor Avinish Malshe, the St. Thomas MBA program’s professors - and opportunities for engagement both in and out of the classroom - provided our team with the knowledge base to implement our idea in the right way," Higgins wrote in a column for Opus.
When it comes to background and experience, the diversity of Higgins' current team has lent itself to unique and insightful ideas being implemented.
“I think you have to be really intentional about whom you bring on to your team and what their background and experience is,” Higgins said. "Tech usually ends up being a lot of guys that look a lot like me, and we don’t have that. That’s not our representation at BetterYou, and that’s something that I’m really excited about , because you can tell when you’re in those meetings and people come up with different ideas that you would have never thought of,” Higgins said.
For Higgins, changing lives has always been the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship. Seeing success stories play out in the lives of BetterYou’s customers makes the challenges worth it.
“I think about all the people who made videos at ilos and all the people who have already started to see improvements in their health and well-being using BetterYou. We helped one of our colleges get 42 extra minutes of sleep a night, and I’m like, ‘Man, if I had that, that would be amazing.’” His main goal for the company is to continue spreading that mission.
Higgins encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to be certain they’re doing it for the right reasons and that it’s the right business for them.
“Unless you have some attachment to what you’re doing and unless it matters in your bones, when the times get tough, you don’t have a great reason to be there,” he said. “It’s so easy to pack it in and go find a job somewhere else, treating it as a six-month gap in whatever it is you were doing. You really need a strong reason to be there. But once you have that, just appreciate the journey. Lean on others for support. You can make it. You just have to find the folks who can help you on your journey.”