Alumna's Non-profit Promotes Health and Wellness Through Exercise App
In 2011, Breanna Dobbe was one of seven students in the Academy of Art University’s School of Web Design + New Media’s collaboration class, taught by Greg Mar and Megan Enright. A year after graduation, Dobbe was able to fully realize the class’ semester project, turning her group’s idea for an exercise app into the Synergia Effect, a nationally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit.
“The process of becoming an official 501(c)3 non-profit took a little over a year,” Dobbe said, “but during that time we’ve come across several people that have volunteered their time helping with design, writing and even some local businesses that are helping with our outreach.”
Synergia Effect utilizes technology to promote health and wellness in a new way that benefits society at large. The organization just launched its first Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising funds to build Synergia, a mobile application that turns physical activity from users into donations to charities and people in need. For those who’ve ever asked for donations for a charitable 5K or marathon, Synergia would streamline that process, and make recruiting new supporters only a tap or click away.
Dobbe met her co-founder Howard Morrison mid-2013 while working as a department head at 24 Hour Fitness. Morrison was interested in Dobbe’s idea for Synergia and his degrees in music and law made him the perfect CFO; now he covers Synergia’s financial and legal obligations while Dobbe works as CEO.
“We both have a vision for Synergia that will enable everyday people to make a difference both in their lives by being more active, but also in other people’s lives without them having to write an extra check or to change everything about their daily lives,” Dobbe said. “What’s really remarkable is that I always thought my vision for what we could do was grand, but he has opened my eyes to expansion ideas I hadn’t thought of.”
Since their launch in September 2013, Synergia has been active across social media, sharing fitness tips and building an online community of people passionate about giving back to their bodies and each other. Road Runner Sports of Berkeley and Concord stepped up to support the non-profit, sponsoring group runs and helping with outreach efforts.
The Zap Lap, a Reno-based production company offered their services to create Synergia’s Kickstarter film.
At the start of 2015, Synergia took on one of its largest projects to date and made a Half Million Mile Pledge. The team of Synergia Effect athletes promised to collectively run and walk at least 500,000 miles during 2015, using sponsored walks and races throughout the year to raise money for the Synergia app and other health-affiliated charities.
Now, with the launch of their Kickstarter, Synergia Effect hopes to have their app ready for users by June 2015. Impressive app designs show how users will be able to form group runs, map their exercise, take pictures, write comments and share routes, all while supporting a health and wellness organization of their choosing. A new website will allow Synergia Effect athletes to design running routes from home and learn about the latest health trends through an education section.
“If it wasn’t for being invited to take part in the collaboration class that last semester I’m not sure I would have ever landed on this idea,” Dobbe said of the Academy’s influence on Synergia Effect. “I’m sure something would have come up where I’d still end up helping people, but this is more than I could have asked for.”
Synergia needs $30,000 to build the app, and as of now the project has reached one percent of their funding goal. The good news is that the deadline to reach that goal is March 6, leaving more than a month to get the word out about the Synergia app. “If the funding goal isn’t reached then the only option is to try again,” Dobbe said. “We are constantly talking with individuals and businesses to build partnerships, which is only going to help the awareness of Synergia grow.”
Dobbe and Morrison have all kinds of plans for Synergia Effect, ranging from diet assistance to fitness products and apparel, but right now all the focus is on the Kickstarter and getting the app and re-designed website up and running. Both founders have a personal relationship with healthcare and fitness that drives their passion to make the Synergia app a reality; before she turned 16, Dobbe had lost her father, grandfather and grandmother to poor health choices.
“When things like that happen to people you love there is something inside of you that makes you want to do everything you can to not only avoid that path for your own life, but to encourage the people around you as well,” she said.
For more info on Synergia Effect, please visit synergiaeffect.org.