CINCINNATI – Static. It's a word loosely defined by stationary behavior. Bad audio. Something inactive. Lifeless. Inert.
But a Cincinnati professional wants to change all that -- with a new mobile phone app.
Statik, with a "K," encourages walking meetings, records audio, tracks steps and calories burned, while also marking key talking points along the way.
For Ryan Meyer, Statik's founder, it's been a year in the making -- with plenty of headaches and sleepless nights in between. In a 12-month span, he quit his job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, cashed in his 401(k), and more, all in pursuit of his dream.
Statik is scheduled to hit the app store -- both Apple and Android -- in March.
"This has definitely been my sole focus," Meyer, 33, said. "But I think it will do well. There's so many people who sit all day. They sit in their office. They sit in their car. They sit during lunch. They sit on the couch when they get home. This is literally something that could help them stretch their legs."
As an industrial and organizational psychologist, Meyer has made a career improving workplace productivity. He had jobs at mega-firms like Computershare Limited, the largest stock transfer agency in the world, and Fidelity Investments in Northern Kentucky. But the long hours, weekend schedule and artificial lights took its toll.
"I wouldn't say I got burned out. I just had enough," he said. "I would take phone calls on a headset and stare out the window at walkways and trails. I played college soccer, so I love being outside, and I always had this idea of creating a walking-meeting app. I just thought there had to be a way to grasp those health and productivity benefits."
So Meyer left his job with Fidelity in March 2017, threw all his stuff in storage, and bought a one-way ticket to Europe, where he spent nearly three months touring cities like Prague, Milan and Rome. It refueled him. He wireframed, or sketched out, the concept for the app while on planes in between.
Back in Cincinnati, he faced several hurdles getting Statik off the ground, including one over the app's original name, Sherpa, which was trademarked.
Not to mention he's cashed in his 401(k) to fund the project.
"I will never forget calling Fidelity and saying, 'I need to empty my 401(k),' " he said. "It's a big reason for the sleepless nights; I'm not a young college kid anymore who has time to take that risk.
"But I want to change the way we work," Meyer said. "Anything from varicose veins to dementia, depression, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, colon cancer, even early death, it's all linked to sitting. I'm trying to say, let's not burn the worker out -- or literally kill the worker. Let's make the worker the best they can be."
Statik, of course, is big on walking meetings, or "walk and talk" sessions where co-workers connect outside the office or boardroom. The app allows users to upload an agenda, tag other attendees and record meetings, which can be shared with just a few simple clicks. Users can also capture action items with a simple shake of the phone.
Statik tracks the physical aspects as well: it counts steps and calories burned and includes a leaderboard for that element of "friendly competition." It encourages social-media shares. Statik is also a fit for college students who want to record and share class lectures.
Statik isn't, however, about sacrificing productivity, Meyer said, or skipping out on tasks at hand. It's about embracing the day. Stretching your legs. Getting outside. Or actually enjoying a lunch meeting without having to constantly jot down notes.
Plus, it's much cheaper than the standing desks or treadmill desks that now dot the corporate landscape.
Statik is free to download, and the first few recordings are free, albeit ad-supported. For unlimited recordings -- and no ads -- the app is 99 cents. For companies, pricing is tiered based on the number of licenses needed, which ranges from $29 a month for 1-10 users to $1,999 a month for 10,000-plus.
But where Statik hopes to cash in big is with big data. Everyone tagged in a meeting will be prompted to take a survey -- the questions will help gauge the meeting's effectiveness: What kind of meeting was it? Were people engaged? Was an agenda provided? Statik will aggregate that information back to the company on a monthly basis.
"That's literally my expertise coming in on the back end," Meyer said. "Basically we're going to evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting and meeting leaders. There's an incredible amount of data on how bad meetings are. The average American attends 62 meetings a month and half those meetings are considered bad. If we can optimize just a tenth of those, that's huge. It improves communication, it improves engagement, and it saves the company time, money and resources.
"A lot of companies are going to be static in their thinking. 'I don't want my employees wandering around.' But let's cut your health insurance costs," Meyer added. "Let's give people an incentive to join your company because you are progressive and forward thinking using a technology app like this."
Once the app hits stores, Meyer and his team will hit sales hard. Employees at ST Media Group in Blue Ash, Jones Lang LaSalle and GTN Technical Staffing beta-tested the app, but Meyer has been reluctant to share it with others until it's ready. Statik has seen more than 50 iterations, and Meyer has been cautiously tight-lipped along the way.
"It's time," he said. "It's ready, and I'm excited.
"I would love to be walking around Downtown Cincinnati and see people having that meeting with my app," Meyer said. "I dream of walking around a Dublin, Ireland, or London, or Shanghai and people are on Statik. But my personal goal? If even just a few people are able to get away from their desk for a while because of this, that's a win."