Entrepreneur

Meet The S'porean Company That Created Fitness Trackers For The National Steps Challenge Since 2015

  • Fitness trackers have spiked in popularity in recent years, with more paying attention to their health and activity levels.
  • Actxa is a homegrown brand, and has been providing hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans with fitness trackers via the National Steps Challenge since 2015. Here’s their story.

Never has counting the number of steps we take daily been a common method to measure our activity levels (or score shopping and grocery vouchers) – until recently.

Of course, pedometers have been around for hundreds of years, but they were typically singular in their purpose, and thus only appealed to a smaller group of consumers.

Now, pedometers are integrated into our smartwatches and fitness trackers, both of which do so much more than just count the number of steps we take.

With the introduction of the annual National Steps Challenge by the Singapore Health Promotion Board, Singaporeans of all ages and backgrounds have also become more aware and incentivised to pay more attention to their activity levels.

To help Singaporeans get started on their fitness tracking journey, the Health Promotion Board also gives out fitness trackers to participants every season.

Image Credit: glenny20 on Instagram

What some might not know is that the trackers are made by Actxa, a Singaporean company that also made its debut with the first-ever National Steps Challenge in 2015!

Activate Interactive, the parent company of Actxa, is also the developer of Healthy 365, the official app for the National Steps Challenge.

Screenshots of the Healthy 365 app

I got in touch with the CEO of Actxa, Mr Lim Chun Hong, to find out more about how its founders went from developing games for dementia sufferers to creating pedometers for Singaporeans of all fitness levels.

From Activate Interactive To Actxa

Actxa was established by the founders of Activate Interactive, a local developer of digital health and fitness products that aims to improve the quality of people’s lives through technology.

Founded in 1997, Activate Interactive has gone from developing games for individuals who suffer from dementia to designing products that help diabetic patients monitor their blood glucose levels in a non-invasive manner.

Its founders, Leslie Wou, Dawn Teh, and Karen Ho all have backgrounds in game development, mobile and interactive media.

They have also won awards for their products along the way, including the Singapore Infocomm Award, GSMA Global Mobile Award, Nokia Forum Pro Award, Asia Web Design Award, and World Web Design Award.

In 2015, Mr Joel Chin, the current CEO of Activate Interactive, came into the picture with the acquisition of the business.

CEO of Activate Interactive and Founder of Actxa Mr Joel Chin

He then founded the latter within the same year.

Under his leadership, Actxa was positioned to be the Internet of Things (IoT) arm of Activate Interactive to “focus on bringing digital health products and services to market, while Activate Interactive continues to focus on software and technologies”.

Image Credit: nicholas_chua on Instagram

“Back in 2015, good quality fitness trackers were costly,” explained Mr Lim.

[Mr Chin] believed that health and its associated technologies should be made affordable and easy to use to benefit as many people as possible.

Making Strides Since 2015

Mr Lim shared that the starting days were “tough, […] considering that there were many firsts” that they were embarking on with the manufacturing process of fitness trackers.

2015 was also a particularly eventful year, with them winning the tender to supply fitness trackers for the very first season of the National Steps Challenge.

Working with manufacturing partners, conducting integration, testing, all the way through to going live in an 8-week span… it was really sink or swim, and I’m glad to say that we managed to swim.

The Actxa Stride, their first product, was released to the public in the same year.

“The reception was overwhelmingly positive with roughly 250,000 Actxa Strides ending up on the wrists of the public by 2016,” revealed Mr Lim.

Participants of the National Steps Challenge collecting their Actxa trackers

Sold Almost 800,000 Fitness Trackers So Far

Since its inception 3 years ago, they have sold “a little shy of 800,000” fitness trackers.

Most of their current customers and users are located in Singapore, but their products have also made their way around the world.

“We have recently started efforts to distribute our products globally,” said Mr Lim.

Actxa through the years

He has also noticed a “steady rise in awareness” of the importance of an active lifestyle among Singaporeans, and credits it to “national-level programmes like the National Steps Challenge”.

Globally, the credit goes to the work that has been done by established fitness tracker brands like Fitbit and Garmin, and we hope that in the very near future, Actxa.

Image Credit: littleblackie33 on Instagram

As for future plans, Mr Lim shared that users can look forward to the launch of the Actxa Glo in January 2019, a fitness tracker that can predict a person’s blood glucose levels non-invasively.

“We believe this product will help, in a very big way, to prevent the onset of the diabetic condition for a lot of people, as well as help users understand how their body is reacting to sugar over time,” he beamed proudly.

He also teased that the team has started work on “an interesting solution” that will help children form good health habits.

2019 will also mark the year when the homegrown brand looks to accelerate their overseas expansion plans which have already taken root this year.

I’d like to thank Mr Lim for his time!

Take the first step (pun intended) and check out Actxa and their products here.

 

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