Perceivant Using Edtech to Bring Health and Wellness to College Kids

In 2012, after Brian Rowe sold the analytics company he co-owned, iGoDigital, to ExactTarget for $21 million, he knew he wanted to move on to a new adventure in the startup realm. He just wasn’t sure what it would be.

“I wanted to do something where I could use my strong analytics background, but I also wanted the chance to have a greater impact,” Rowe recalls. “I wanted to do some good instead of just selling more stuff.”

Later that year, he founded Indianapolis-based Perceivant, a hybrid healthcare/educational technology startup that creates online wellness courses for college students, designed to help them live a healthier lifestyle—while also providing a one-stop digital platform for professors teaching those courses.

Perceivant’s first product, called Bearface, is a package of wellness “courseware” for university students that includes three different classes, Rowe says: an introductory course called FitQuest that is mostly based around physical activity; 21st Century Wellness, which teaches “the eight dimensions of well-being”; and Coaching for a Healthier Lifestyle, a graduate-level course that trains people to be wellness coaches. Each class is taught digitally and comes with assessments, quizzes, tests, and, if the professor chooses, analytics.

Rowe says professors typically assign students a textbook and then pair it with learning management software—Canvas is a popular choice, he adds—so students can do the coursework online. The challenge for teachers, he says, is getting everything set up in the learning management software platform.

“We own the book and the standard curriculum, then we bring it all together,” Rowe says. “Students can do everything for the course inside of our digital platform. We erase the technology barrier for professors.”

Perceivant also offers professors the ability to tailor their content through its custom publishing division. Rowe uses an example from the company’s 21st Century Wellness class, which includes a chapter on sexuality. If the professor works for a private faith-based institution, he or she might want the chapter to be more conservative than a professor at a public university, he says. Perceivant can work with professors to re-author the chapter to their liking.

Then, Rowe says, when new universities become Perceivant customers, they can build off the content already created or develop their own versions. If the new university chooses the version of the chapter customized by a different school, Perceivant can automatically processes the royalties owed to that school for re-using its content.

Rowe says about a year ago, the company only had one university piloting its platform. Heading into spring of 2017, he says, Perceivant has eight universities testing the software and has inked a “milestone deal” with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. At UNC, students are required to take a class called Lifetime Fitness, which teaches them how to incorporate exercise and apply class concepts in their daily lives. Lifetime Fitness, Rowe says, will now be “driven exclusively by Perceivant courseware.”

The company recently began piloting a second product called Kale, which Rowe describes as “an engagement tool built around trying to retain students.” Here’s the premise: it can be challenging to access a university’s support services at a time of … Next Page »

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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