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Ex-Nokians Launch Employee Wellness App Wellm

Born from the ashes of Nokia’s ‘Wellness’ initiative — part of Nokia Research Center, which, by some estimates, helped make the once mobile giant the third largest R&D spender in Europe as recently as 2011 — is Wellmo, another Finnish startup operating in the health and fitness space.

Founded by ex-Nokians, Jaakko Olkkonen (who headed up Nokia’s Wellness business) and Sampo Niskanen (previously a developer and architect for Nokia Wellmate), the company provides a cloud-based service and mobile apps aimed at supporting corporate wellness providers; the idea being to help employers help their workforce to become fitter and healthier.

Echoing the sentiments of Helsinki neighbour and competitor HeiaHeia, which also has an ex-Nokian in its ranks, more push ups equals fewer sick days, meaning that forward-thinking companies — especially, it seems, in places like Finland — are investing more readily in corporate wellness programs.

To tap this trend — which Nokia itself appears to have picked up on early but, unsurprisingly, did little to commercialise — Wellmo’s solution targets both employers, with consumer-facing apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and wellness service providers via an underpinning web-based service.

Specifically, the Wellmo platform consists of three elements: a mobile wellness diary for wellness programme members, integration with existing apps and devices, and tools for wellness programme providers and coaches.

That device support spans the most popular wearable devices, such as Fitbit, Withings and Jawbone, and Wellmo says it plans to integrate with both Apple Health and Windows Health, so as to play nicely within the larger consumer health ecosystem. The premise being to try to reach employees who would otherwise be put off by traditional wellness programs — the sort that are league table-based or ultra competitive, and tend to require turning up as a group, and typically attract fitness types who already have a good grip on their health and the need to exercise.

Interestingly — though unsurprising, given Wellmo’s strong Nokia roots — the 2012 founded company was originally funded by the Nokia Bridge Incubator programme, which offered a parachute to entruepreneur-minded employees leaving the company, along with tax-payer funded Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) and founders and employees. It has since added several unnamed private investors via a seed round this summer, bringing total funding to €1.15 million.


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