Dr. Don Brown, CEO and founder of Indianapolis-based LifeOmic, thought he would have a success on his hands if his company’s newest product, a fasting tracker for people trying to improve their health, was downloaded 5,000 times.
But the app has racked up more than 325,000 downloads, recording more than 2.5 million fasts, since it was launched last year. And the popularity shows little sign of peaking.
“Our expectations were very modest,” Brown said. “It’s just a fasting tracker, with some social capabilities, so you can set up a social circle with your friends, your kids, people at work.”
The tracker allows users to track their eating habits, monitor their mood and record their weight in an effort to improve metabolic health. The app, available on iOS and Android devices, is free.
Brown, a medical doctor and entrepreneur, started LifeOmic after selling his previous company, Interactive Intelligence Group Inc., a call-center-software maker, to California-based Genesys for $1.4 billion in 2016.
The fasting tracker isn't even the main focus of LifeOmic, which provides cloud storage to medical providers and researchers. It's more of an experimental sideline.
Brown said he decided to develop the app after seeing how some of his children were following his decision to practice intermittent fasting—or giving up food for 14 to 16 hours at a time, several days a week.
People who practice intermittent fasting often say it helps them to lose weight and become healthier by reducing levels of insulin, blood sugars, blood pressure and flushing out damaged cells. It is not considered a diet, but a timed method of eating.
Brown said he became a believer in intermittent fasting about three years ago and has seen personal health benefits, including lower insulin levels. Some of his eight children took up the practice, and the family began texting back and forth and how long they had been fasting, how they were feeling and trading suggestions and ideas.
“I figured there was an opportunity for social engagement,” Brown said. “I had my team build a little app. We thought we’d get maybe 5,000 users, but that would help give us some good data and a test of our platform.”
Hundreds of thousands of downloads later, the Life Fasting Tracker is becoming a popular ways to record, track and share fasting habits. It’s the first product of LifeOmic’s apps portfolio.
The app also encourages users to publicly share their intermittent fasting journey and connect with others. Brown said user data is securely stored on LifeOmic’s “precision health cloud.”
LifeOmic, based at the IU Emerging Technology Center on West 10th Street near the IUPUI campus, has about 65 employees, including software developers, cancer specialists, geneticists and other science and information-technology experts.
The company also provides a cloud platform for Indiana University, Regenstrief Institute and other organizations to advance precision medicine. Precision medicine tailors treatment based on an individual’s unique attributes coded in DNA.