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Spread the joy

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  • | 10:00 a.m. November 7, 2014
  • Entrepreneurs
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Who says money can't buy happiness?

Just ask Tim Rowe, the Joyful Executive Officer of Naples-based Joy Project International.

Rowe, the former chief financial officer of the Naples International Film Festival and a former hospitality industry executive, recently launched an application called Joybug. For $9.99 a month after you sign up at, the program will send you personalized uplifting two-minute audio meditation messages anywhere on your mobile device. “Three times a day, you're going to get a joy break,” Rowe says with a wide grin.

But who would pay for that?

Turns out, lots of people would. Rowe says hundreds of thousands of people have signed up for a similar service created by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra that costs $49.99 for 21 days. “We're looking for the people who are open to it,” he says, noting it's most likely to be women and people interested in health, exercise and well-being.

Rowe says people are looking for ways to counteract the constant stream of negative news that reaches them on mobile devices, computers and tablets. Meditation and other spiritual programs have grown substantially in recent years. “There's a groundswell,” says Rowe.

Rowe and a group of health care and construction entrepreneurs from the region have spent $100,000 and three years on the project. Initially, Rowe says Joybug is aiming for 3,000 users by the end of the year. “If we can get a foothold on the consumer side, then that will help us get in on the corporate side,” Rowe says.

The Joy Project plans to sell a more customized version of the service to health care providers such as hospitals and enhance it with interactive functions. For example, an uplifting message from your health care provider might pop up on your phone at regular intervals and ask how you're feeling. If you respond and indicate you're not feeling well, a physician could be immediately alerted.

This is important because the government now penalizes health care providers who have high rates of hospital readmissions. If a program can identify patients who are not feeling well after their initial hospital stay, they could treat them before their condition worsens. “Nobody else has interactivity,” Rowe says.

In addition, the program could promote behavior modification, such as reminding patients to take their medications or encouraging them to exercise a joint that was recently repaired. The application could then track their progress and report back to their health care provider.

But before Rowe begins selling the service to hospitals and other health care providers, he wants to make sure consumers find it useful for the $9.99 they're paying each month. “We've worked on the pricing for a long, long time,” says Rowe. “Once you get over $10, you get sensitivity to automatic billing.”

Rowe acknowledges that it will be easier to sell health care providers once accumulates thousands of users. “I don't want to fight the gatekeepers,” he says. “I'm not a corporate salesperson.”

Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss



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