Alexandre Riguad, CEO and Co-founder of Sport Technology Engagement Protocol (STEP); a digital health and fitness platform offering its affiliates a technical environment and a motion-based reward system with a wide range of rewards.
An entrepreneur at heart, Alexandre has channeled his love for arts, technology, fitness and wellbeing into a viable business. During a successful stint at Apple in Silicon Valley, Alexandre was inspired to start his entrepreneurial journey. Self taught, he gained proficiency in coding for blockchain enterprises and decided to merge his passion for tech and liberal arts in ingenious ways to help society by empowering users to own the fitness journeys and lead healthier, happier lives. He graduated with laurels from the INSEEC School of Business where he also teaches today. Given his vast experience in the field of technology and his affinity to overall wellbeing, he plays a key role in empowering youth communities at the UAE’s Ministry of Youth and is a recurring speaker at Google, TopCEO and many such reputed organisations. Here are some excerpts from his interview with the SME Insights Team.
1) Your professional background is truly impressive. Can you tell us more about your career progression and how STEP was born?
While in high-school, I started learning to code on my own in Dubai at the age of 12 and two years later I started making websites pro-bono for charitable organisations in the UAE. When I graduated, I headed to study abroad in France and California, and before I knew it, I got hired by Apple and embarked on an life changing journey which lasted 6 years in several locations, including going to the Cupertino Head Quarters where I met Tim Cook, a blessing for a 20 year old. This enabled me to work in several roles at Apple and enrich my skills throughout that journey. This serendipitous journey also enabled me to start leading my own startup projects on the side, given Apple had given me a green light from top management to remain a part of the Apple Family while working on my own projects. After some trial and error... and a lot of learning and growth, STEP was launched and is steadily growing internationally.
2) What’s your key single tip for newcomer CEOs?
Be truly approachable, it is important to build a culture where people are comfortable to come up with any news without restricting themselves. A startup never goes perfectly 100% of the time, and if it does, you should think twice about how approachable you are to your team and how information flows. Communication should flow easily in all directions within an organisation, and approachability is one of the keys to it!
3) Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I am a child of globalisation, born in Hong Kong from a French father and an Australian mother. Having grown up in south-east Asia, Africa and the Middle-East (for the biggest part of my life) I love new cultures, countries, languages and meeting people from all around the world and Dubai is a fantastic place for that, the whole world is represented here, and I wholeheartedly call it 'Home'.
I am also a fan of fitness and wellness, having weighed up to 120 kilos in my teens, I’ve learnt how fitness, wellness and nutrition contribute to a holistic lifestyle and am a true believer that everyone has the will to be healthy, which is why I try to empower as many people as I can to be the healthiest version of themselves.
4) Briefly provide an overview of your company's value proposition and how this stands to benefits users unlike any other wellness app?
STEP stands for Sport Technology Engagement Protocol. STEP enables people to be healthier through motivation. Enables businesses to engage with their communities to be healthier through customised white label applications motivating their employees or their customers to workout more, eat better, have a more mindful lifestyle.
STEP is a digital fitness and wellness motivation platform that rewards individuals and communities to help them engage in wellness activity through mobile applications using Blockchain technology. The STEP ecosystem includes the STEP platform, integrated with white label applications, motivation models, digital content creators, rewards merchants and partners.
5) Tell us about your expansion plans into new territories or activities, and any big projects you have in mind?
Our long term vision is to enable data sovereignty through our Blockchain based Distributed wellness ecosystem. People can own their wellness and health data and choose to monetise it if they wish to do so. Most tech giants make money on our data. Thanks to STEP we enable people to take back control of their data sovereignty.
On a more mid-term perspective we are currently launching new markets in the region and internationally, on two verticals:
- Corporate wellness: Boost employee’s wellbeing with a platform that creates meaningful engagement, delivers valuable rewards, increases connections, and empowers people to live healthier lives.
- Customer Engagement: Engage with customers by providing loyalty/rewards programs based on wellness.
5) Covid-19 has hit economies & workers around the world: How have you responded & any lessons learnt?
With the arrival of Covid-19, we directly thought of people who were confined at home during lockdowns. This meant enable people to stay healthy from the comfort of their homes. Which is why we launched 'Workouts from home', a smart feature enabling people to get tailor made workouts based on a set amount of parameters they can customise and by choosing one of our coaches. We currently have coaches from around the world on our smart workouts, from the Middle-East to the United States.
Furthermore, we launched a marathon from home challenge with Orange telecom in Tunisia, with exciting rewards from BeIn Sports and from Orange Telecom! Our campaigns with Orange Telecom are a success and in order to bring wellness to even more people, part of the income generated during this campaign is given to a local Charitable Foundation.
6) What technologies or trends excite you?
Blockchain is the technology which excites me the most, I believe Blockchain can bring more equality in today’s world, by removing centralised authorities and by enabling such concepts as data sovereignty through tokenised rewards. People can now truly benefit from the monetisation of their data in this particular use of blockchain technology. Distributed ledger technology enables data transactions to take place between ecosystems of businesses, individuals, and various stakeholders, with no single entity within the ecosystem having complete control over the flow of information, enabling people to choose whether or not their data is used and to get rewards for it. Without blockchain, data exchanges require that participants transfer control over to a central entity... distributed networks improve data exchange, and enable a new kind of 'power to the people'.
7) Lastly, how do you think a wellness based programme like STEP will be of value in today's times?
In the current global turmoil, fostering wellness is more important than ever. Everyone needs to focus on their overall wellness, employers need to enable their employees to be healthier, eat better, workout more, meditate etc... all from their own homes. By having wellness based incentives programs, businesses can do just that. Same goes for customer incentives and rewards, whether it is hospitality players seeking to enhance the wellness of their customers even after their stay in the hotel, or retailers wanting to incentivise people for their wellbeing, STEP is the solution! Start building engagement within your community today!
Now more than ever must we all take a step for our own wellness and for the wellness of their community!