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4 Startups Engineering Happiness

A crop of new startups help users track their moods. But is focusing on happiness a sure path to success?

Happiness has always been big business. But in 2013, there was no shortage of tech startups trying to cash in on the quantified self craze, which uses self-tracking to boost our day-to-day lives.

These happiness startups, which serve up apps for tracking moods, daily activities, and our social activity, seem to take aim directly at Facebook. But is a focus on happiness a strong sell in an age when generalist social networks and apps reign supreme? Only time will tell. For now, take a look at four audacious companies trying to corner the market on personal well-being. 


Happier Shares Your Best Moments

Much in the way Twitter and Instagram prompt users to post updates on their daily activities, Happier, which launched as an online community and app in February of this year, is intended to make people feel more positive each day. Happier users can "smile" at others' happy moments and label their own happy moments with tags like "being productive" and “eating awesome food." Founder Nataly Kogan raised a $2.4 million round of funding from Ventrock and Resolute for the project, which she hopes to expand into a media and lifestyle empire. Whether that dream will come to fruition remains to be seen, given how Happier's press coverage has tapered off in recent months. 


Happify Alters Your Thought Patterns

Reinforcing positive thought patterns and getting users to share them is all in a day's work for Happify, a two-year-old startup that launched its website last month. There, you’ll find recommendations for daily activities and the promise of forming "life-changing habits," which range from getting outside more often to hitting the gym. Although the site offers a "happiness test," users will find it short on developed resources like crisis phone numbers or links. So can it become profitable? President Ofer Leidner tells Businessweek the company's plan is to accumulate paid subscribers, with help from the $3.8 million round of seed funding it received in October. There's only one problem: The paid version isn’t that different from the free one.  


MoodKit Helps Treat Depression 

Using a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy, MoodKit encourages patients to do the things that bring them joy and help them connect with others, be it calling an old friend or simply taking a walk. The app is billed as a relatively fast and effective treatment, and a heck of a lot cheaper than Prozac. What's more, it was created by board-certified psychologists who teach at UCLA and Pepperdine--no life coaches here. What's brilliant about MoodKit is its uncanny ability to connect your moods with your actions. If you binge on fast food after fighting with your spouse, for example, MoodKit will prod you to change that behavior.


Momentum Captures Beautiful Moments 

Seattle-based Mindbloom Incorporated is known for designing beautiful yet quirky apps that make improving your life seem far less daunting than it sounds. The company was founded in 2008 and has since created an array of impressive apps including the widely hailed energy and fitness tracker, Juice. Now with Momentum, an app that helps users to easily document "everyday moments that create a heightened sense of well-being," it's joining the positivity parade. The app is free and users have rated it highly, though it hasn't received much buzz. 

IMAGES: Screenshot, Apple App Store/MoodKit, Apple App Store/Momentum
Last updated: Dec 13, 2013

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.

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