Noom’s CEO and co-founder Seju Jeong moved to the US in 2005 with $3,000, zero acquaintances and a lot of enthusiasm to help people live healthier lives.
Noom CEO and co-founder Saeju Jeong moved to the US in 2005 with $3,000, zero acquaintances and much enthusiasm to help people live healthier lives. He later met Artem Petakov, whom he convinced to leave Google and form the company that would eventually become Noum. He launched the famous weight loss app in 2017.
The privately held company doesn’t disclose user or subscriber numbers, but app analytics company SensorTower says it was the most installed weight loss app in the US during 2020.
Jeong recently spoke to the Associated Press about life goals, weight loss and heavy metal. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: You installed a heavy metal label, far away from Noom. How did you find your way into the wellness sector?
A: I founded the first heavy-metal label in South Korea because I love heavy metal music. I started my business at the age of 19 and that’s how I discovered entrepreneurship. My father was a doctor and ran a hospital. I looked at him a lot. Unfortunately, at the age of 51, he died of lung cancer quite early. It helped me see the world differently. This really surprised me. I was twenty one – a college kid. I was forced to mature because I had a very intense experience and it really helped me think about why I am on this planet. It was a reminder that everyone will die and that your legacy matters. I decided that I was going to do something like what my father had inspired me to do before I died. I want to live to the best of my ability. I will do my best, but with a laser focus on health care to make the most impact.
Question: Why is it called Nome?
A: This moon is backward. Because Noom services, we are a partner. Changing behavior, in search of a healthier lifestyle, is one such journey; it never ends. We are the best companion for every single user, as the moon is your guide and companion on your journey in the dark.
Q: How do you see it different from other weight loss services?
A: Many people think of us as a consumer weight loss company and I think that’s partly right and wrong. The reason we focus on weight management is that weight management is a good barometer of your overall health. Period. And weight is a problem for a lot of people.
We use scientific approach and focus on user experience for best results. The goal with which we have established the company is to help as many people as we can. Behavior change is a very organic, sustainable, healthy way to make the most of an impact.
Q: Your revenue doubled last year. Is it because of the increasing interest of people who want to lose the weight they achieved during the pandemic?
A: Yes and no. I’ll be clear about this: I wish I could find out directly what the impact of COVID-19 is on our business. If I had figured it out, I could have done more. But we couldn’t figure it out, not because people are stupid, but because Noom is growing well before COVID-19. I think there was a lot of organic interest because of COVID 19 but we’re in overgrowth as a company, so it wasn’t clear whether COVID-19 really provided a tailwind. We estimate that COVID-19 has truly changed the way healthcare is handled across the industry and the end user base can attest to the importance of health. I think there is a silver lining there.