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Disrupting Behavior: 4 Companies Boosting Business By Changing Behaviors

These entrepreneurs found opportunity in changing our most ingrained habits.
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Some of the most disruptive startups didn’t just change an industry – they changed how we live. There’s a wave of new companies who hope to change peoples’ habits and become the next Uber, Facebook or Airbnb.

Related: Change Habits, Change Your Industry

Image credit: Cover Blog Company: Cover - Co-founders: Andrew Cove and Mark EgermanFounded: 2013The shift: From waiting for the check to walking out the door right after a meal.The concept: Those who check in at more than 80 partner restaurants in the New York and Brooklyn area can inform their server that they’re paying with the Cover app. When they're finished, diners won’t need to wait for the check, they can simply walk out of the restaurant. The app will even split a big group’s bill and automatically calculate the tip. (The experience must be working -- restaurateurs find that patrons using Cover spend more and tip more than the average customer.)  


Image credit: Kognito

Company: Kognito -
Founded: 2003 
Co-founders: Ron Goldman, CEO, and Glenn Albright, Ph.D., director of applied research
The shift: From avoiding discussing pressing issues (such as: chronic disease, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse) to effectively addressing them with patients or loved ones.
The concept: Kognito Conversation Platform is a virtual practice environment for conversing that uses a methodology based on neuroscience, social cognition and game mechanics. Learners engage in role-play with emotionally responsive virtual humans that respond like real humans.

Kognito has partnered with divisions of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, American Academy of Pediatrics, universities and hospitals. For example, one simulation is geared toward college students to learn how to approach and connect with a fellow student exhibiting signs of psychological distress.

Here is a recent trailer Kognito developed for a childhood obesity app:

Change Talk: Childhood Obesity (full version) from Kognito on Vimeo.


Image credit: Drivescribe

Company: Drivescribe -
Founded: 2012
Founder: Mike Moen
The shift: From distracted driving to safe driving.
The concept: Minneapolis-based Drive Power launched this mobile app that acts as a digital driving coach to keep drivers’ eyes on the road – and not on their cell phone, compact mirror or breakfast burrito. To eliminate potentially deadly distractions, it blocks all texts and calls during your ride and alerts you if you need to slow down.

Those who drive safely earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards from iTunes or Starbucks, or for retail products and discounts from merchants like Amazon, JCrew, and Nike.




Image credit: iDoneThis

Company: iDoneThis -
Co-Founder: Walter Chen, Rodrigo Guzman, and Jae Kwon
Founded: 2011
The shift: From planning what you’ll do to celebrating what you’ve actually accomplished.
The concept: With this management tool, staffers can reply to an evening email reminder with what they did that day, including even the smallest tasks. The next day, everyone on the team gets a digest with what everyone got done.  

The act of recording what you achieve, reflecting upon it — and then in the team context, sharing and communicating about it — is powerful, according to Chen, and can boost productivity.  

In fact, Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile analyzed more than 12,000 employee diary entries, and found that the number one motivator was not financial gain, but the ‘power of small wins.’ In other words, employees are highly motivated to do their best when they know they’re making progress toward a meaningful goal.


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