Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht On Why Healthy, Happy Employees Are the Key Ingredient to a Thriving Business

It’s not often that you meet a CEO who works a maximum of 55 hours a week, participates in push up challenges with coworkers in the office, and wears the company values—which read “anything is possible,” “speak plainly,” “we make things for customers,” and “be it”— on a dog tag around his neck. But for Henry Albrecht, it’s all part of his corporate and personal mission to create a better kind of company culture through happier, healthier, and well-balanced employees.

“Life is too short,” Albrecht says. “We really want to create a better kind of company. We want it to be OK to be yourself.”

The 41-year-old entrepreneur founded the software startup Limeade in early February 2006, with the aim of doing just that—helping companies succeed by improving the wellbeing and productivity of their employees.

Albrecht himself came from an economic strategy, and business, brand, and marketing background. After getting his bachelor’s in economics and literature from Claremont McKenna College, he spent a year playing basketball in Portugal. Then he found work as an economic consultant, went through business school, and worked his way into a tech career at Intuit, the Mountain View, CA-based software company.

Today Albrecht lives back in his native Northwest, is happily married, has three young kids (ages three, six, and 10), and a young a thriving startup with 25 employees that follow the same creed as he does. Juggling all that, he still manages to get out of the office long before most startup employees do, and more importantly, he is more productive than he’s ever been and enjoys the time he’s at work—a lot. In fact, Albrecht wakes up every day excited to go to the office. The phrase ‘case of the Mondays’ is not in his vocabulary.

“Like many people, I go through life trying to figure out what really makes me tick, makes me passionate, and gets me psyched in the morning, and I’m super fortunate to have found something that I feel that way about,” he says.

The company values he and his employees all wear as emblems (though Albrecht admits he’s a little behind in ordering the tags for the whole staff) may be simple, but they represent the idea behind the company: that personal wellbeing is the key ingredient to success—in life, and in business.

Using Limeade’s Web-based system, employers can actively focus on improving corporate health and productivity, working from the specific needs of each individual employee up. After completing an initial—and private—health assessment through the system, employees can log their daily status against personal health and wellness goals they set themselves, or those set by the company, journal about their progress, engage with fellow coworkers for challenges that capitalize on social gaming strategies that make self-reporting wellness more fun, and track their stats over time. Employers get valuable insights into the wellness of their employee population, and are able to initiate incentive programs or challenges to help their employees meet their personal goals, which in turn help the company have a richer, stronger, happier, and more productive culture.

And so far the mission is paying off. In four short years, Limeade has raised two successful financing rounds from friends and family, and angel investors—one for $2.4 million in July 2009, followed by another for $3 million in January—and boasts some big-name customers, including the State of Washington, Jamba Juice, Group Health, and REI.

Last week, the company signed on two new clients, the Texas-based Scott & White Healthcare (very similar in size to Group Health), and a popular national restaurant chain. At this rate Albrecht estimates that the company will break the profitability barrier this year, and plans to double its staff in 2011 as it expands.

I sat down with Albrecht a couple of weeks ago and spoke with him about Limeade, the burgeoning health IT/wellness space, and what makes his company different, especially compared to other startups in the space that have been on our radar, such as Mindbloom. Here are the highlights from our conversation, edited, as always, for length and clarity.

Xconomy: Where did you get the idea for Limeade?

Henry Albrecht: Having studied marketing in business school, I consider myself a little bit of an amateur psychologist, and I like to study what makes people tick and what makes people move. A lot of my interests revolve around that? What motivates people?

Intuit was doing some neat things with consumer directive and small business software, and taking all these complex factors that, let’s say, predict a healthy financial life, or predict a healthy business, and reporting them back in crisp, easy to understand ways. Here’s your whole personal portfolio, here’s your payroll, here’s your checking balance and your savings, and here’s what you need to do about it.

Having spent a lot of time in that environment, that helped brew a passion in me. It helped frame a question. If you could do this type of thing for your financial well being, what if you could do something like that for your overall wellbeing? Something that helped you measure and get all the … Next Page »

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