While a lot of people spent the Columbus Day Weekend enjoying the fine weather, touring downtown Boston or eating at one of the city’s popular restaurants, the four dudes from Hub startup Achvr had a much more hectic outing: They hit 72 Boston hotspots in 72 hours to celebrate the launch of their new Achvr app, which helps people set and track goals as small as eating a cannoli in the North End (number 32 on their itinerary, by the way) or as big as climbing Mt. Everest.
The app is sort of a tech twist on an old principle of motivation: You’re more likely to follow through on a goal if you write it down and tell your friends about it.
“It came to me in a moment of clarity when I was reevaluating what was important to me in my life,” chief executive Ryan Traeger told me when I met him at Engadget+gdgt Live on the eve of his 72 in 72 adventure. “I was looking for a tool that would allow me to centralize that information and figure out where I could compare that information with friends and family. There’s sort of stuff like that: You can build lists and share them with people, but it’s hard to socialize it and give yourself more incentive to actually go do those things.”
Say you want to try rock climbing. Add it to your list of Achvr goals, and the app can connect you with friends who also want to rock climb, and point you to nearby climbing gyms.
This is where a new principle of motivation comes in: You’re more likely to follow through on a goal if given a Groupon coupon to do it. Achvr partners with popular sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Expedia to help users check items off their to-do lists—but only makes offers for activities people say they want to do.
“We’re trying to get rid of that glut of marketing that’s based on guesswork,” Traeger said. “We’re just saying, ‘Users, tell us what you want to do, and we’ll help you do it.’ ”
When you do accomplish a goal, Achvr rewards you with points. The value system might be a bit skewed—I earned 25 points for traveling to France, 10 for getting a college degree—but, hey, the idea is to add one more layer of motivation: competition. Your point total appears on a leaderboard, along with your those of your friends.