Nearly 5 million people in the last month have logged onto
, a free, Cincinnati-based web site designed help people connect with like-minded folks pushing toward their life goals, from weight loss to stress management to fit pregnancy.
SparkPeople was founded in 2001 by University of Cincinnati
graduate and former Procter & Gamble employee, Chris Downie, with central mission: to spark millions of people to reach their goals and lead healthier lives. The site does this in a myriad of ways: through nutrition, health and fitness tools, and maybe most importantly, through personal support with online message boards, blogs and social networking groups.
"You can look at just at the name and see how we are different. We try to tap into positive thinking and making a true lifestyle change. So it's not just about health. Using these same techniques, people have told us they got a promotion at job, or are being a better parent. They take small steps and get huge life breakthroughs," Downie said.
Downie started SparkPeople.com with the proceeds of Up4Sale.com, which he sold to Ebay in 1998. It was the online auction site's first acquisition. And though SparkPeople's thrust is health, fitness and weight loss, for some the site has affected their lives in other ways.
SparkPeople has 26 full-time and 6 part-time employees. The company plans to hire several more in the near future.
The site has a total of 8.5 million registered users. Many will use it for a short period of time, leave, then come back months or several years later when they need a refresher.
Within the last year the site has launched SparkAmerica.com
, a national campaign to help people of all ages exercise more, eat better, make healthier choices and enjoy active, healthy lives. The company also has launched a section devoted to people with Type II Diabetes
and now you can Spark on the go with free mobile apps
Sources: Chris Downie and Tim Metzner, SparkPeople Writer: Feoshia Henderson