“I was the fat kid,” said Dennis Ai, Northwestern ‘13. “The first time I mustered up the courage to tell a girl I liked her, she responded by saying, ‘But then my boyfriend would be fat.’”
Through hard work, healthy lifestyle and perseverance, Ai lost weight and took control of his health. He made a better life for himself, and was inspired to help others do the same.
So he founded JiveHealth, a for-profit startup with a mission to help kids live healthier, happier lives, and started designing a new app that would make being healthy fun.
Then, in March 2013, things began to heat up.
After submitting his app design to the Build a Healthier Future Summit, he traveled to Washington D.C. with his team. There, his company won the End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge and was awarded a $10,000 cash prize to help develop their newly designed app.
In addition to the cash prize, the summit arranged for Ai’s company to receive mentorship from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, public relations firm Edelman, and health startup coaching firm StartupHealth.
After winning the challenge in D.C., he had the opportunity to shake hands with First Lady Michelle Obama who hosted the event.
“She is an incredibly inspirational person,” Ai said. “She has done great work on eliminating food desserts, getting the food industry to make commitments to make healthier food, and leading the movement to end childhood obesity. It was amazing and really nerve-wracking to actually meet her.”
Since then, Ai’s app has been fully developed and quickly hit the Top 25 in Family Games on iTunes after launching. His company has also been featured in The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, Inc. Magazine, and the Chicago Sun Times.
For Ai, however, it has never been about awards or recognition.
“I can empathize with the 25 million kids in the US today who are overweight or obese,” Ai said. “I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to go through what they go through at home and school.”