Celebrating 13 years of Noom

by | Aug 24, 2021

Happy 13th Birthday, Noom!

It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since my co-founder, Artem Petakov, and I were huddled in a studio apartment, hatching the plans for the company that would come to be known as Noom. 

Back in 2008, we were united by an ambitious mission – to help people everywhere live healthier lives. We knew that this was what we wanted to work towards but determining how to get there was not a straight line. What followed were years of researching, building, testing, iterating, and pivoting. We tried equipment installed on a fitness bike, a smart gym, a running tracking app, and more — but these products only scratched the surface when it came to delivering sustainable, transformational health outcomes for our users.

We took a step back and realized that if we were going to help people change their lives for the long-term, we needed to do two things:

  • Take an entirely consumer-first approach – focused directly on the end-user – which was (and still is) rare to find in health care. 
  • Come to terms with a health care system that had been optimized for sick care – treating conditions after they arise, instead of focusing on improving healthy behaviors and reducing risk factors that impact overall health outcomes.   

Lessons Learned From My Father

I first started thinking about the dominance of sick care over health care during conversations I had with my father near the end of his life. He was a renowned doctor (one of countless in my family!) in my home country of South Korea. Our final conversations were not focused on the people he had helped as a physician, but on the ones that he couldn’t. He lamented that by the time he saw many of his patients, it was too late for them. This wasn’t what he thought the role of a doctor should be. He knew that society appreciated his role as a health care leader, but looking back he felt he had become more of a “sick care professional.”

Why wasn’t the medical profession focused on helping people take a holistic approach to improve and maintain their health, rather than attempting to save those who were already sick? 

After my father’s passing, my entire worldview shifted. I started asking myself these questions, and continue to ask them today: What am I here to do? What positive impact can I make with my own talents? This set me down the path to founding Noom.

I arrived in the U.S. in 2005 and met Artem, who at the time was a software engineer at Google and making strides in his profession, but finding that his work failed to serve his passion for psychology. After a few years of conversations, I was able to convince him to join me full-time on the adventure that would become Noom; I am so grateful that he did. 

In a complex legacy system like health care, it’s incredibly difficult to make progress. Part of our journey has been understanding that to effect real change, we need to have an impact from outside of the system itself – one that starts with the consumer. For the past 13 years, we have been doing just that:building a consumer-led brand that delivers tangible results. Noom is accountable to the consumer, not to the inefficient health care system. We are building a world in which individuals are in the driver’s seat of their health journeys, and our guiding compass will always be the number of lives we can change. 

Noom Today and Beyond

Through all of the twists and turns, we came out of our early-stage startup journey with a powerful behavior change platform–unifying features from our earlier products, adding human coaches, and rebranding to become Noom.  

People have asked how we came up with the name Noom. We were inspired by the moon, an ever-present guide no matter where you are or what you are doing – this is exactly what we wanted Noom to be for our users. 

Fueled by principles of proven behavioral science, we’ve discovered the right combination of psychology, technology, and human coaching to guide people to adopt healthy habits for good. 

And the best part? It works, and it lasts. Research shows that even 18 months after Noomers complete their journeys, the habits and tools they gained continue to guide them to make healthy choices. 

Every day, I hear from Noomers about the successes they’ve achieved on our platform. This is, without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my role. To know that Noom has helped people become more confident, go off of their medications, build healthier relationships with food, change their outlooks on life – the list goes on – is truly humbling. 

  • “I tried Noom ‘just to see’, and here I am eleven months later, with a whole new level of mindfulness, confidence, and optimism about my ability to manage my weight, manage my emotions around food, and live a healthy, happy, active life!” – Michael

  • “I have learned to eliminate guilt and trust my decisions. And I decreased my LDL cholesterol by almost half. I feel the best I have felt in over 15 years!” – Shelly 

  • “Noom has given me the grace to forgive myself for not always making the best choice in the moment. And also the permission to forgive myself and start fresh every day.” – Jeff

These stories remind me that even when the road gets tough, Noom is serving a bigger purpose and the challenge will always be worth it. 

As we wish Noom a mega-happy 13th birthday, I want to thank every member of the Noomily – past, present, and future – for their contributions. We wouldn’t be where we are today, or on the trajectory to get to where we’re going, without each and every one of you. 

And to our Noomers everywhere, thank you for joining us on this journey. We are so lucky to have your support. With your help, we can envision and contribute to a stronger, healthier future as we keep Nooming to help more lives.

Saeju