My startup: workforce engagement app youdo

George Chaytor-Norris reveals how his app helps staff bond and grow together
BizAge Interview Team
George Chaytor-Norris and his co founder Luke Gaydon
George Chaytor-Norris and his co-founder Luke Gaydon

Hi George! Tell us about youdo

youdo is a mobile app designed to strengthen employee connections to create a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce, and bring greater purpose and impact to wellbeing and sustainability initiatives.

Unlike other apps, youdo is designed to empower employees to organise activities they want to do and find others with similar passions. When employees can shape these initiatives together with their company, they’re much more likely to hit on something relevant and sustainable in the long-term.

For every activity, whether it’s two people discussing a book or 200 people in a wine tasting, youdo donates Earth Tokens, which can be redeemed as donations to environmental and social impact projects.

What's your biggest strength?

No one else is setting out the path for organisations to empower employees to live healthier lives and contribute to a healthier planet — in a way that also benefits the health of the company. Our app connects employees with wellbeing and environmental initiatives in a simple and compelling way and gives the power to employees to do what they love to do.

Our 2022 research shows that 84% of UK workers want to be involved in wellbeing and environmental initiatives, yet only 18% say company initiatives are very relevant to their personal interests. And workers want to take a more active role in driving these initiatives, by contributing ideas (50%), voting on courses of action (37%) and running/organising initiatives (30%), which youdo empowers them to do.

youdo can also play a powerful role in bringing the C-suite together to define a company’s health beyond its balance sheet. We help organisations to execute on their social and environmental strategies in a measurable way to report back to investors, regulators and stakeholders.

What made you think there was money in this?

At university, just five years ago, it struck me how much time people spend looking at screens, living for likes on social media and feeling connection through tech. As a society we are becoming distanced from the authentic, raw, emotional connection that as humans we require.

Through my course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I was also learning about a holistic approach to wellbeing. The common thread was connection — being aware and present in every situation and being mindful and intentional in our actions. There was a large body of data showing that companies that invest in the wellbeing of their staff reap the benefits of productivity and retention.

I had a strong gut feeling I couldn’t ignore. I hadn’t entered the workplace yet, but I wanted to create a way for people to connect at work as that’s where the majority of us spend a third of our lives!

Originally, I imagined a ‘Tinder for sports’ because I know how powerful sport is in bringing people together. Sport gives me a lot of enjoyment — not just being physically active but spending time with others, working as a team and doing something we all loved.

But when my co-founder Luke got involved, we spoke to experts and ran focus groups and soon realised that not everyone wants to connect through physical activity. No matter what makes an employee happy — whether it’s baking, trainspotting, or rugby — people should be able to do it all. And now they can with youdo and make a positive impact on other people and the planet at the same time.

We recognised a clear opportunity to help companies strengthen employee connections in a completely new way – one that empowers everyone to organise activities they love and have fun together in a way that also benefits the health of the company.

As for the wider market opportunity, the global corporate wellness market was valued at $53bn in 2020 (source: Grand View Research) and our own 2020 market research survey showed 73% of business leaders are investing in tools to keep their employees better connected in a hybrid working environment, reaffirming that there was a niche for youdo.

Where is the business today? 

Following successful beta testing, youdo launched in May 2022 on the Android and iOS app stores.

During our beta phase we had 300+ users at four organisations. From just 20 activities, 150+ trees were planted in our scheme in Madagascar, showing the amazing potential for global impact once youdo is implemented at scale.

We’re now on a fast-track journey to gain traction in the market, onboarding customers, speaking to prospects and making a positive impact on people and the planet. We almost don’t know what we’ve got yet and that’s a truly exciting time.

What is the secret to making the business work?

Even if you’re young and confident about your idea it’s crucial to listen to other people. You don’t have to take advice from everyone but do listen if you want your business to evolve. Don’t take a ‘It’s my way or the highway’ approach.

At the same time though, back yourself. As a young entrepreneur you often work with more experienced people and I’ve had moments where I’ve disagreed on a direction to take but haven’t voiced that because I’ve assumed they must be right. However, I should have spoken up sooner as we’d have not wasted time and effort in some cases.

What were you doing before?

I was studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition when I came up with the idea for youdo and then have been developing it ever since. This is when I became increasingly aware of how our personal environment impacts our health. Wellbeing isn’t just about what we eat or how often we exercise, but the relationships we have and our connection to nature and the world around us.

I’d considered becoming a health coach, but thought I needed to get some more life experience before embarking on that. Instead, I channelled my efforts into creating youdo, knowing that wellbeing and environmental and social impact needed to be brought together for a happier, healthier planet.

Are there any technologies you've found useful?

Miro and Slack helped us to collaborate effectively through the pandemic. And ClickUp has really helped us centralise, manage and track all the various tasks we had before launch and now will aid us as we continue to ramp up the business.

What is the future vision?

We’re attacking a problem in a completely different way to our competitors to drive meaningful environmental and social impact, which opens up a huge global market for us. We’ve set ourselves some aggressive growth targets and milestones to drive fast adoption of youdo, starting in the UK and US. We’re excited about helping to create a happier, healthier world.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
October 5, 2022
Written by
October 5, 2022