Plasticity Sells the Science of Happiness
Many great entrepreneurial stories start with a founder ruefully thinking, “There has got to be a better way.” The story of Jim and Jennifer Moss and their company, Plasticity , was borne of the same struggle but is sure to put a smile on your face.
Jim was a professional lacrosse player in California, but one day in 2009 he woke up nearly paralyzed. In the hospital, facing a career-ending disease, the doctors warned him it may take six to twelve months for him to walk again. While he was sitting in that hospital bed, faced with a terrible tragedy, Jim had that thought: “There has got to be a better way for me to heal.” Six weeks later, he was proudly walking home with his wife, Jen.
It was the couple’s optimism, gratitude, and positivity that propelled them through such a challenging time. Now intrigued by this concept of positivity impacting performance, Jim decided to move his family back to Canada and start studying the science behind it at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Adapting the Dream into a Business
While studying psychology at Laurier, Jim started a consumer-facing initiative called The Smile Epidemic. This initial idea went direct to consumers and encouraged them to post a photo with a card noting something they were grateful for. Gratitude has been proven to increase a person’s happiness, and The Smile Epidemic was a way to help people tap into it on a regular basis.
It was a great consumer success, but The Smile Epidemic wasn’t generating revenue. That’s when the team was introduced to the Laurier LaunchPad: a program for student or alumni teams to validate their business ideas and find their product-solution fit. The LaunchPad team recognized the passion that Jim and Jennifer had for increasing people’s happiness, and helped guide them through the process of making that a viable business.
While working with the LaunchPad instructors and mentors, Jim and Jennifer realized that corporations were hungry for a better way of evaluating employee satisfaction. It was a light-bulb moment! The team could continue to pursue its mission for creating happiness, while selling a platform that enabled managers to get a real-time gauge of their workforces’ emotional state-of-being. Plasticity was born.
The Best Place to Start a Business
“We thought our only option for moving back [to Canada] was going to Toronto, but we really didn’t want to live there,” Jen recalls. They fell in love with Kitchener-Waterloo when they visited family and saw many new office buildings including the Tannery, where the Laurier LaunchPad program operates. “There was so much happening around K-W. We realized how much potential there was in the area and had to be a part of it.”
The married co-founders continued to learn everything they could about the science of happiness in partnership with numerous researchers and PhD candidates at Laurier. Their business endeavours were also supported through the LaunchPad program and its many mentors. “The Laurier team got us space at the Accelerator Centre, which is where we got introduced to our very first Plasticity customer and investor,” Jen remembers. “Our company wouldn’t be alive without that opportunity.”
Building a Platform for Workplace Happiness
On September 21 st , 2015 Plasticity will launch version 2.0 of its software. The Mosses have continued to adapt their business strategies with the lean methodology taught in the LaunchPad program, which ensures that their product constantly provides value to their customers. This iteration comes from new research, allowing the app to act as a personal coach for emotional intelligence. This information can then be aggregated and analyzed to provide business owners and managers with a sense of how emotionally healthy their organization is, and how that relates to other corporate objectives such as performance or ROI.
The user would never know that complex psychological science and data analytics are running in the background. The app is simple to use and highly valuable for its corporate customers. Through hard work and the guidance of Laurier’s LaunchPad program, Plasticity is well on its way to making workers’ lives happier.
That’s certainly something to smile about.