Motivation Articles

The First State of the Spark Address

An Introduction from SparkPeople's Founder & CEO

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SparkPeople's mission is to help millions of people reach their goals using health and fitness as a springboard to success. We also want to create one of the best company cultures in the world by living our brand. For example, we pay employees a significant bonus for following a consistent fitness & nutrition program year-round.

We help our members reach their goals by showing them how to truly make a healthy lifestyle change. This helps them keep the weight off AND helps them in other areas of life—from relationships to career and finances.

Our team is passionate about this mission because we don’t think anyone else has a program as comprehensive as SparkPeople. In fact, many companies in the huge “diet industry” love that people stay on the diet rollercoaster, continuously losing (and regaining) weight by following a fad diet or taking diet pills. This just gives these companies reason to come up with the next fad.

One of the main reasons we want to be free is to spread the word about this program to as many people as possible! I’m not aware of any premium diet solution that works that has ever been free.

A Great Team (This Includes YOU)
SparkPeople has put together a team of people who are passionate about our mission. Now I'm just one small part of this cohesive team. Our technology leaders also have extensive experience at eBay, so they know about building high traffic sites.

We consider our members to be part of this team. We know that for our mission to succeed, we need our members to get great results and help spread the Spark.

Low Expenses
We work to keep our expenses as low as possible to keep advertising at a minimum. I look at Craigslist.org as an example of this. They are able to keep expenses low with a staff of only about 20 people even though they are a huge site.

This is the same strategy we used at my first company and it worked so well we never needed outside financing. Everything went onto our credit cards, which did get quite scary for awhile! Our small team at SparkPeople spends almost all of their time doing projects that will directly help our members. Also, our location in Cincinnati means lower expenses than many other areas of the world, since the cost of living here is relatively low.

Also, I have turned the stock I received from eBay for my first company into a diversified portfolio of investments that have done well. Now, even if we lose money as a free site for awhile, a good chunk of our annual expenses are covered by my investment returns each year. This is another thing that lets us offer our services for free.
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About The Author

Chris Downie Chris Downie
As the founder and CEO of SparkPeople, Chris is passionate about helping people reach their goals! See all articles by Chris.

Member Comments

  • Chris you've made a difference in my life as well. I'm down 50 lbs since the second week of January this year. I have about 30 more to go but I'm confident I will lose the rest because of your site. I've gleaned so much good advice and information from this site. I tell anyone that asks about my weight loss about using SPARKPEOPLE. It's made a huge difference in how I think about life, let alone weight loss. Thanks for making this site and making a difference. I'm extremely grateful! - 11/14/2014 2:26:17 PM
  • Dear Sparkguy:

    While I *do* block ads on websites as a matter of course in my browser (Chrome via AdBlock), partly to make my sometimes slow internet connection and time online more efficient, I REALLY appreciate the sparkpeople site, and the fact that it is FREE!! :D I would welcome opportunities to click on partner ads, *at my time of choosing, on one page, all put together* especially if there were sparkpoints associated with clicking daily.

    Just a suggestion :)
    THANKS! - 9/21/2014 2:59:51 PM
  • Thank you Chris! SparkPeople has helped me greatly, and I have had many of my patients (I am a healtcare provider) receive help in achieving healthy goals by using your site. You have whatever support I can give you! - 8/3/2014 6:17:41 PM
  • Chris, thank you for this address. It is informative for those who have not read either "Spark" or "The Spark Solution" that I have both enjoyed. I found SP quite by accident in a magazine in the doctor's office. I joined SP in October, 2013, having lost 140 pounds on Jenny and on my own, beginning at 535 pounds. I have lost another 47 on SP. I am 67, went from a wheel chair to a walker, and now a cane. I have made much progress in all areas of my life, and am just starting with a personal trainer. I have a long term goal for another 100 pounds. My family says, "Mom, if you lose 287, you should go for 300!" I just might.
    Thank you for your commitment to the world, and this wonderful place to learn and grow.
    Tearose22/Tina/
    Cleveland, Ohio - 3/24/2014 3:47:52 PM
  • KATFORD63
    I'm upset because Sparkpeople made me start over because I was forced to change my email address. I've lost all my Sparkpeople history. - 1/23/2014 4:20:05 PM
  • MEDITERRANEAN1
    Thank you Chris I love SPARK and feel that I am finally reaching my goals - 5/25/2013 9:06:16 AM
  • MEDITERRANEAN1
    Thank you Chris I love SPARK and feel that I am finally reaching my goals - 5/25/2013 9:01:56 AM
  • I was reading reviews of Weight Watchers, trying with NO enthusiasm to get myself to try it one more time, when I saw a comment about SP. What drew me here was not so much *that* it was free as *why* it was free: that you wanted to genuinely help people rather than scam them out of their money. Every day I thank you and the woman who posted that comment! For the first time I feel like I may actually keep off the weight I lose. Losing the weight: $1000's. Keeping it off: priceless! - 5/4/2013 8:44:54 AM
  • Chris, thank you so much for turning your vision into a reality. This is the most wonderful company and resource. My husband and I started following the program on March 25 and it is changing our lives in profound ways. We are so grateful for the tools on the website, and every day we learn something new about how to achieve optimal health through nutritious foods and a commitment to exercise. THANK YOU! - 5/2/2013 8:53:15 AM
  • CATHY40176
    Chris you are truly AWESOME! I followed a link from facebook and now I am addicted to your site. It offers so much more than the others. From all of the motivational articles, blogs, etc., it really makes it fun for me on this life journey. I'm not all alone anymore. Thanks for everything you have done to make this possible. Cathy Mattingly, Webster, KY - 4/18/2013 1:22:05 PM
  • Chris and his company have truly come up with a working solution. I've been a member for 2 years, lost my weight and just had my one year anniversary at that weight. You have to really drink the koolaid and try hard to replace any bad habits about food or fitness with good ones (especially food) but I can testify that it really works. I feel great! and my husband of almost 40 years seems more in love with me than ever. I had a lot less than others to lose but I'm super proud of my accomplishment and never want to go back to the unhealthy life style I used to embrace. I have used Weight watchers on line and this works better so it is a genuine bonus that it is free.

    Thank you so much Chris and SparkPeople! - 3/24/2013 2:49:25 PM
  • Thanks Cris! You gave me the hope and motivation I needed. - 3/1/2013 6:00:31 PM
  • I am very impressed with your values and the quality of this site. Above all, I am grateful. I am one pound from achieving my original weight goal but this success has given me confidence and hope that I can go beyond that to a truly healthy weight (and meet other goals in my life). So I will continue. I feel better than I have felt for years and I am seeing many crossover benefits in other areas of my life. So thanks! A million thanks and more! - 1/18/2013 6:32:42 PM
  • Words can't express my true gratitude towards this free site that you have founded. I can't thank you enough! I have spread the spark to my family doctor when I was in to see him about my last lab work results this month. Compared to my lab work done in July for high cholesterol and triglycerides, he thought that the most recent one was a mistake. He couldn't believe his eyes! He said, it was nearly impossible! The improvement was out the roof! When he asked me what I did and what changes I've made, I said....I joined SparkPeople the same day I received the horrendous lab work results back in July. He asked for the website and told me that he will highly recommend this site to any of his patients who have struggled with weight, cholesterol, diabetes issues. He was so impressed, that he will be also spreading the spark! Thank you, thank you, thank you Chris! You are a forever gift to us!! - 10/21/2012 4:54:33 PM
  • I am so grateful for your vision. It would be impossible to really express what Sparkpeople has been for me so I will sum it up by saying that SparkPeople has been a lifesaver. I don't have much support with family and friends in reaching my health goals. Either they try but they just don't have the right information or they are negative people. Coming here has given me a place to become educated about health, support, and motivation. And because it is free I don't have to worry about whether or not I can afford to continue. There is relief in knowing it is going to be here. I'm fine with the ads. I have stumbled onto several things that I was interested in.

    I do believe this site will be very profitable for you SparkGuy. You come up with the greatest ideas and people flock to them. So the ideas you have to monetize some things here will be well received.

    And just in case you read all of these, I hope that you will partner with local farms to advertise their products, services, and hours so that we can locate healthy foods from the source to help us along the journey. - 10/21/2012 4:48:38 PM

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