Using both his passion for gaming and business, Yash Jain developed the app Hero Trainer to help give gamers a platform to focus on their physical health
When you picture the stereotypical gamer, what do you see?
Certainly, you do not picture a handsome, social and healthy individual. Instead, you likely picture someone who lives in their mom’s basement, or someone who lives off of snacks, or someone who hasn’t showered in a few days. With all of this, you most certainly do not visualize someone who avidly and consistently participates in physical activity.
For Yash Jain, he fell under that latter category. An avid gamer himself, Jain found himself having trouble maintaining a proper exercise regimen. He would take a few days or weeks to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle, and he would eventually experience a flatline — something that a majority of people experience in their everyday lives, not just gamers. However, Jain argues that there is a reason this sort of experience is so common for gamers.
“The reason gamers have that sort of identity is that they want to try and spend as much time as they can in that gaming world because their character means more to them than their own personal health. And that was very true for me as well,” he said.
This was the spark that led to Jain developing his first startup. What if he could develop an immersive experience for gamers that could motivate them to commit to exercise and healthy habits while simultaneously making their gaming experience better? From this pitch, Hero Trainer was erected.
Hero Trainer is a free mobile app where users can earn rewards for dozens of games on all major consoles simply by accumulating steps. When a user runs or walks, the app is capable of counting how many steps that person takes which then translates into rewards that gamers can possess. Hero Trainer is capable of syncing with Google Fit or Apple Health, and consoles such as Xbox, Playstation, PC and Nintendo are associated with the app. Launched in April 2020, users have accumulated over one billion steps.
However, Jain did not turn from intense gamer to entrepreneur in a matter of a few days. Instead, he learned the best possible way to work and construct a business. Jain was a graduate student from the University of Pennsylvania before developing his app, earning his undergraduate degree from George Washington University prior.
Both of those endeavors were experienced through the lens of biotechnology, a field he eventually found himself working in after graduating. Yet he grew dissatisfied with that space and decided to pursue entrepreneurship, which he got a brief taste of at Penn as an engineering entrepreneurship minor.
“One of my courses had my group and I come up with an idea that we had to pitch to angel investors. I wasn’t a major fan of the idea we pitched, but the investors were very, very excited about it. And they ended up offering me a position in their firm,” Jain said. “I was only the second person in that particular class’ history to be offered a job on the spot, just based off my portion of the pitch. It was a defining moment for me, like I was made for that space.”
That experience is the backbone behind the development of Hero Trainer. Using his experience at Penn, along with acquiring a team of paid employees and close advisors — including his sister, Juhee, who does UI/UX design for a mental health startup — Jain has developed an app that has already made a tremendous impact. Along with consumers such as NFL player Landon Turner and everyday user Brandon L’Homme, it has also helped individuals such as Chelcey Larsen who used the service to recover from a hip injury.
Hero Trainer’s CEO would be the first to admit, though, that putting his company into reality was a “very, very rough process.” Jain mentioned that through the development of his app, he faced continuous hurdles and quickly realized the challenges that arise from a first attempt at running a startup. Yet, through guidance from people in the startup community, he believes that those strenuous challenges will allow him to grow as an entrepreneur and should give him leeway when he hopes to start a second business.
“It is sort of known in the entrepreneurial space that the second time around is a lot easier, and during the first effort you’re gonna hit every tree branch before you reach the ground,” he said.
Right now, however, Jain’s focus lies on Hero Trainer despite his future plans to expand in the business world. Currently, Jain’s vision for his gaming app and its future relies on two important factors: continued exposure and internal treatment.
According to statistics from 2019, over 164 million adults play video games in the United States. With the incredible level of opportunity that arises from such an extensive and growing market, Jain understands that his platform has the potential to help an incredible level of people along with taking weight off the shoulders of major programs in the country, particularly public health and medical care systems.
But Jain also wants to place a primary focus on the ethics of his business. From his own observations of business, Jain has noticed that companies place finance over their employees. When attempting to reach a certain profit by each quarter, it influences companies to make budget cuts and therefore makes their hires disposable and turns them into “cash cows.” Jain is hopeful that his business model will avoid such encounters.
“I want to make sure that the people in my company are treated like people,” he said. “Not only does consistently cutting employee costs for profit hurt workers but it also tends to cause companies to avoid taking greater risks with their budget. In that sense, we want to be a public benefit corporation that remains constantly ethical in our approach.”
Nevertheless, behind the mind of an entrepreneur, the passion for their craft will always remain. And for Jain, it is gaming. Although Jain has had essentially no time to game for himself, every day he is reminded of his childhood dream of developing a video game. Currently, he is hopeful that the Hero Trainer idea can transition into the development of a studio that is capable of making a full-fledged game.
While his company does not have the budget to meet that expectation in the near future, he wants to develop a game with the same principles as his app, making it an interactive game that uses real-life scenarios to influence the technological elements of the game’s character. Meaning, if the consumer lifts weights to build muscle or increase their own personal stamina by running, the character on the screen will do the same.
This remains a dream for Jain, and it is something that he is hopeful he will be able to celebrate when the time comes. But right now, what he is celebrating the most is the difference he is making, along with the people he is inspiring. By destroying a stereotype, Jain continues to influence the community that he identifies with and it appears that will always remain his highest honor.
“We had a user lose 30 pounds in two months using our service. That’s not only a physical activity boost, that’s a full-on lifestyle shift. And every time I hear a story of someone getting healthier, or making those sorts of changes to their lifestyle, there’s just no other feeling like that,” Jain expressed.