HappiLyfe is a purposeful living app and wellness aggregator that helps people change their habits and adopt new ones that can lead to a happier life. It uses tools such as reflection, connection through community, and even an assessment that keeps track of your growth as you continue to use the app. HappiLyfe CEO, Juan Avila believes it’s a valuable resource that has grown with the help of the IHCC’S LatinX incubator program.
While getting his MBA at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, one of Avila’s professors was Harry Kramer, the author of From Values to Action, and a big takeaway from that book was about people’s habits and how people keep doing the same things and keep getting the same results and acting surprised when they don’t see any change.
“People say, I want to spend more time with my family or want to be a better spouse, I want better health, be more successful, yet they keep doing the same thing and nothing changes,” he explains. He thought about where he would be in a year, what would help him get there, and the steps he could take to get him there. He sat there with a group of 35 to 40 successful people in the class and everyone was getting very emotional and breaking down, struggling with the idea of balance so that they could be successful and happy. “Many times people may seem like they’re happy, but success doesn’t equate to happiness,” he says. At the end of that experience, he thought about the idea for HappyLyfe, about staying connected and having a positive change on a daily basis. This was back in 2014 and that’s when he started putting his ideas down on paper, he hired some interns, did some market research, and then found IHCC’s incubator program.
LatinX Incubator Program
Avila was accepted to the LatinX Incubator program for Cohort 5 in the summer of 2019 and at that time there were only 10 people in the program. The program allowed him to create a blueprint and get the resources that he needed to build this app, which eventually fit into the mental and wellness space. “It’s really interesting because I’ve seen how the LatinX program has evolved from where it was in 2019 to where it is today,” he says. He explains that back then there were only 10 companies and they were all Chicago-based and everyone was in different stages, he was in the idea stage, and others were in the build, launch, or growth stage. He got to see different companies at different stages, which gave him a blueprint on how he should get started.
The other benefit is that IHCC has resources and so does 1871 (our partner), so he had those resources available for advice. “If you want to build your own app, my advice is to not build it on your own, use an incubator program because it’s going to provide you with a great blueprint, resources, and it’s going to provide you with the right way to do things and you get to learn from other people’s mistakes and other people. I think the IHCC and 1871 through that program provides a nice structure in terms of the steps that you need to take to be successful,” affirms Avila. Now that he’s going through the incubator program with Shenix, he’s seen how this program has grown over the last few years. “I’m so impressed with how it’s integrated with the 1871 community, and now instead of 10 companies, it has about 30 and spread all over the country,” he says.
HappiLyfe empowers people and allows them to lead more purposeful lives
The app facilitates three things: balance through daily focus and access to wellness, tools connectedness through a safe private community, and positive change through daily reflection. Avila explains that they do this on an elegant, customizable, and private platform and even provide an assessment tool that allows you to track your progress as you continue to use the app.
There are a lot of apps in the wellness space, but they’re predominantly focused on one area. “What we’re trying to do is create a process around mental and emotional well being and I truly believe this is the first wellness integration app. We call ourselves a purposeful living app and wellness aggregator. I had a clear vision from the beginning and it’s not just going to be an assessment app or a reflection app, and I felt that this wasn’t out there and it is very much needed,” says Avila.
How it works
When you enter the app, your daily reflection takes about 2 minutes. It asks about a moment in your day when you engaged in something that made you happy. It allows you to think about your day and share it in private, none of your information is shared on HappiLyfe, and no one else can see your profile. “What I found as I was building the app, especially during COVID, was that we were having less face-to-face interaction with people. I was pretty good at engaging in a lot of the attributes and having happiness, except for kindness and empathy. I think that it was hard for me to find opportunities to really engage in kindness and engage with them in the right way.
“I serve on the board of the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Fund and I showed them the app last fall and it didn’t have the assessment in it yet or Happy Groups. When I showed it to the head of the department she asked, how I knew it works? She suggested that it needed an assessment where people could develop a baseline when they start using the app and over time that would give them an idea of their progress,” he explains. One of the components is to privately communicate and support each other, but the other component is the assessment. They released the app back in the fall without the assessment but this past May (during mental health awareness month), they did the official launch with the assessment. Their goal is to have HappiLyfe Blossom events, which are events centered around mental and wellness, and exercises with tools and updates. The logo is a flower and as you answer the assessment and continue to log your progress, the flower starts changing.
Targeting young adults
When young adults go off on their own, they’re in their late teens and unprepared to handle the challenges around their mental and emotional well-being. “I have three Latina daughters that are teenagers, they are 19, 17, and 15 years old that I co-parent with their mom very well around things like education, athletics, family, and religion, but we don’t prepare them for the mental and emotional side of life,” he explains. Right now, the mental well-being of young people is being challenged, especially with COVID. “HappiLyfe is the greatest gift that I could provide to my daughters, the idea is to provide all these tools and resources at a young age so that they are well equipped to handle whatever challenges they face,” says Avila. He wants to normalize talking about mental health and at the same time reach young people in middle school and high school, so that when they’re older they’re better equipped to handle challenges.
Colleges and universities are one of his target audiences, especially post COVID, college kids are really struggling now that school is back in person. There are a lot of challenges going on with mental wellness. There are not enough resources for them because they can’t just schedule a time to see their therapists while doing schoolwork. “They’re struggling because they’re coming to colleges and universities not prepared mentally and emotionally,” says Avila.
Universities and colleges are really struggling, but probably the biggest need is K through 12. Chicago Public Schools recently announced a wellness pledge for all of their students. In a nutshell, they are having students sign a piece of paper saying to raise their hand if they don’t feel well, and that’s fantastic because they are talking about wellness, but then what? It’s great to bring awareness but then you have to provide solutions too, he adds. “We are trying to target all three, corporate, universities, and K-12, but honestly, I want to focus on K-12 because I think that’s where the most impact would be because those kids can learn how to use these tools. Then they’ll be better prepared as they become young adults and go to college and go to the workforce and become successful.
Download the app at www.happilyfe.app.