- Associated Press - Monday, November 17, 2014

SPARTANURG, S.C. (AP) - Two entrepreneurs hope to take corporate wellness to a whole new level.

Gene Nettles, 38, and his wife, Rosanne, 32, both of Spartanburg are developing their digital tech startup Rally Fit at the Iron Yard’s second accelerator in downtown this year, along with eight other teams.

Rally Fit is a social media app that collects data from wearable activity tracking devices and enables employers to develop competitions that encourage employees to make healthy choices. The goal is to help organizations “rally” their troops to stem climbing health care costs and wellness-related productivity losses.

“We want people to get pumped up about getting healthy,” Gene said. “We’re all about making corporate wellness fun.”

Gene came up with the product earlier this year while completing his work in the Iron Yard’s Academy, a three-month coding school designed to mold aspiring software engineers into professional junior-level programmers.

But the concept has roots in an online program the couple implemented several months ago at their three-store bridal and formal wear chain Genealogy.

“Our girls were telling us ‘We want to get in shape,’” Rosanne said. “We started a competition between the stores. They would use activity trackers and input the data online. They really got into it. We found that the girls with the most activity had the best sales and the stores with the highest activity also had the highest sales.”

The couple said after Gene developed the app for the academy, Iron Yard leaders encouraged him to take it a little further. Their idea was accepted by the accelerator, and they moved back to Spartanburg from Charleston this summer.

The Nettles’ said the program works with FitBit, Jawbone and Withings devices, as well as the Moves app, which is a free activity tracker for iOS and Android devices.

It pulls in data from devices linked to the profile. Users can track their progress via a dashboard and see how their performance measures up in one or more competitions. The displayed data shows the users’ device, the amount of steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, active minutes and ranking.

“It’s not just for companies,” Rosanne said. “Families can use it; anyone can use it. . It’s great because the winner doesn’t always have to be a marathon runner. You just have to get out and do your steps.”

The couple said Spartanburg-based Johnson Development Associates Inc. and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System are testing the product.

They plan to continue to develop Rally Fit, but are still keeping their option open for the future.

“We came here two weeks after he got out of the academy,” Rosanne said. “We’ve really come a long way since we got here. . No matter where we are, our hearts are here (in Spartanburg). We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.”

Gene graduated from Spartanburg High School in 1994. He attended The Citadel and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.

Rosanne went to Dorman High School and then the University of South Carolina, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in fashion, merchandising and retail.

The couple moved to Charleston after Gene became a pilot in the Air Force reserves. He currently flies a Boeing C-17 transport plane.

Gene and Rosanne have two young sons and are expecting a third.

The Nettles became entrepreneurs in 2007 when they opened a prom dress shop in Savannah, Georgia. Rosanne had experience in the industry as she had helped her family operate The Castle prom and bridal shop in Spartanburg and worked as a sales rep for a formal wear company after college. The couple later opened stores in Mount Pleasant and Raleigh.

Following a national trend, Gene and Rosanne’s entrepreneurial dream segued into online boutiques, including Sideline Sweetie and Dress Therapy.

“We work really well together,” Gene said. “We love what we do. We are always talking about ideas. We are goal-oriented people, but our goals aren’t just at work. We have personal goals, such as our faith, family and finances. We are a team.”

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Online: www.myrallyfit.com

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Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/


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