Providence invests in fitness technology startup
For Immediate Release
June 1, 2015
For more information:
Colleen Wadden, Senior Director, External Communication
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Providence Health & Services encourages kids to be healthy and active through investment in fitness technology startup Sqord
Providence Ventures invests $2.3 million in seed round, expands kids’ programs in seven cities
SEATTLE – Providence Health & Services is teaming up with Sqord to help make kids healthier. Sqord combines a kid-proof wearable activity tracker, online games, and a kid-safe social media app designed to encourage kids to spend more time in active, physical play. The partnership will join Sqord’s unique platform with Providence’s community relationships across five states to help make kids healthier in the communities Providence serves.
Sqord, one of the first wearables designed specifically with kids in mind, combines an activity tracker to a socially-connected online world where kids can play games and safely and positively encourage and challenge each other to become more active. Providence will leverage existing partnerships, as well as forge new relationships across its system to bring Sqord into schools and communities.
Anyone can purchase a Sqord at www.sqord.com for $34.95. A purchase includes a Sqord kid-proof PowerPod and a lifetime membership to Sqord’s kid-safe website where kids can join groups and encourage peers to become more active. Large school systems to small community groups across the U.S. have used Sqord to encourage their kids to become more active.
Providence Ventures led the seed-round funding with a $2.3 million investment in the startup. Sqord relocated to Seattle this month in order to build its team of passionate technologists who want to help in their mission of keeping kids healthy and active.
The collaboration with Sqord helps Providence fulfill its strategy to create healthier communities. By making active play more fun, kids will play more and as a result increase their fitness, improve overall health and begin to build lifelong habits that can help them prevent serious health problems, such as obesity and diabetes.
Providence first became involved with Sqord in a pilot program in several northwest Washington communities that was supported by the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition. Results of the pilot showed that over the course of a school year fifth grade students who wore the Sqord PowerPod increased their activity by 12 to 13 percent, while national statistics would predict a decrease in activity beginning at that age.
“Research indicates that when kids reach ages 10 and 11, their physical activity levels begin to decline drastically. This is a crucial time to intervene and help them develop healthy habits by continuing to make active play fun. Kids can learn an important lesson with Sqord: you don’t need to be a jock to stay healthy. It’s about consistent movement through active play,” said Sqord’s co-founder, Coleman Greene.
A study presented to the American Heart Association earlier this year showed that getting kids inspired to stay active was influenced heavily by the encouragement and participation they receive from their peers.
“It’s great to see a startup focused on a mobile technology that improves the health of our kids receive the funding it needs to grow,” said John Fein, managing director, Techstars. “Sqord is the perfect example of a company that has been able to leverage the long-term value of the Techstars ecosystem of mentors, investors, alumni and corporate partners.”
“To create healthier communities, Providence must support innovative companies that can have a positive impact beyond and outside of clinics and hospitals. Sqord is another example of Providence Venture’s model of finding promising technologies, piloting them to demonstrate their value, and supporting what works,” said Aaron Martin, Providence senior vice president of strategy and innovation.
Providence plans to use its five-state footprint to launch integrated health and wellness programs using Sqord in the communities it serves. Currently, Providence is rolling out seven new programs in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The ultimate goal is to ignite healthy habits and behaviors, connecting children everywhere to better health for life.
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Providence Health & Services is the third largest not-for-profit health system in the United States and its services include 34 hospitals, 475 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing, and many other health and educational services. The health system and its affiliates employ more than 76,000 people across five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington – with its system office located in Renton, Washington. Providence Ventures is the health system’s investment fund, aimed at creating healthier communities through the best technology innovation. Providence Health & Services continues a tradition of caring that the Sisters of Providence began nearly 160 years ago.
Sqord is redefining active play for today’s connected generation of kids and families. Its interactive hardware-software platform, provides kids with a fun and easy way to track and share all of their activity throughout the day. Kids can then use that activity to compete with friends, earn points, achieve big wins, find new activities to do, and collect limitless virtual rewards – just for getting up and playing. Sqord has gotten tens of thousands of kids and families moving through schools, youth organizations and direct sales across the country. The company has offices in downtown Seattle, Wash. and Durham, N.C.