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Student rewards app looks to boost exercise, engagement

Andrew Hudson   ||   Oct 26, 2018  ||   ,

The idea behind Plyo, a rewards app for college students who exercise on campus, is to promote healthy student behavior and engagement. And following an award winning appearance at the Minnesota Cup, a statewide startup competition, the app is off to a good start.

According to a report from MinneInno, the Plyo app won the highest award in the student category at this year's Minnesota Cup, winning $30,000. The winnings are expected to help Plyo launch on five additional campuses over the coming year, the first of which will be live this spring.

Plyo was piloted on the University of Minnesota's campus last spring, and garnered enough student attention to move toward an official launch for both iOS and Android devices. Plyo officially launched six weeks ago.

Through the app, Plyo users earn points toward rewards while working out at one of three university recreation facilities. Rewards include things like half-off coffee at Starbucks, $10 gift cards to Lululemon, or free lunch at a local pizza place. At present, the app offers rewards from nearly a dozen merchants of various kinds that each pay a subscription fee to be featured in the app.

To date, Plyo's 3,300 active users have logged more than 100,000 hours and redeemed more than 9,000 rewards while using the app.

Peter Schultze, CEO of Plyo and a junior at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, first hatched the idea for Plyo during his first year on campus. “I’m really into health and fitness,” Schultze told MinneInno. “When I hit college, I was shocked at the lifestyle habits of my peers, as you can imagine.”

Student health and engagement is a well-known challenge at universities across the country, with campuses devoting large amounts of resources to making healthy habits on campus more enticing. Between state-of-the-art rec facilities, healthy on-campus dining options and student programs geared toward healthy living, universities are putting significant effort into boosting student engagement.

Perhaps this is where Plyo, and other solutions like it, can help to plug the gaps.

Schultze long-term vision for Plyo is to establish licensing agreements with universities. In the near term, however, it's the University of Minnesota that will partner with Plyo to support further development of the app. The University of Minnesota's involvement will help offer rewards to students on campus at places like on-campus dining facilities and university bookstores, and will also support advertising efforts for the app.

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