Wellsphere Launch: the Zen of Health – ValleyZen Exclusive

09.05.08 | Category: Breaking News, Interaction Design, Simplicity, Zen Search

ValleyZen Wellsphere
“ValleyZen will be the first to know when we pull the trigger,” said Ron Gutman, Co-Founder and CEO of Wellsphere. A sleep-deprived but adrenalized team gathered around him at Wellsphere headquarters in San Mateo. Having worked around the clock the past few weeks in preparation for today’s launch of Wellsphere 2.0, they seemed none the worse for the wear.

“Welcome to our office,” said Dave Kashen, Co-Founder and CFO.
“It’s NOT an office, it’s a WellHome,” quipped Gutman.

Welcome to the WellHome
In case you haven’t seen a WellHome, this one is penthouse level with 360 views that stretch to SF and Mount Diablo. Spinning bikes face out towards the view. Team Wellsphere hopped on bikes and kept talking. “We do this often,” said Gutman. Why not have a Board meeting and burn calories at the same time? (For the record, this is the first ValleyZen interview conducted partly on a stationary bike).
The WellHome is also stocked with an impressive spread of healthy whole and raw foods from figs and papayas to yogurt and freshly squeezed juices.
ValleyZen Wellsphere on bikes
What is a WellSphere?
Wellsphere started in 2004 at Stanford B-School as a project of Ron Gutman and Dave Kashen. Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge (known to the community as “Dr. Geoff”) joined, and the core team was formed.

Why is TODAY’S LAUNCH Important?
Until now, the primary focus of Wellsphere has been wellness information. Starting today, it launches the largest and most comprehensive information source for medical information and illness-related communities. The enormous amount of information is glued together by an impressive medical search engine (though the Wellsphere team prefers to call it a “health knowledge engine,” so as to signal it is not competing with Google). It is indeed a major redesign, and with it Wellsphere puts an ambitious claim to lead in a very competitive and densely populated industry: health-related information.

What Differentiates them from the Competition?
1. Comprehensiveness of quality information: while their competitors have 50-200 active health-related bloggers, Wellsphere has 1,500. It has professors at the prestigious medical schools of Stanford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and others blogging for their network.
2. Holistic focus on both the mind and the body: with its large base of bloggers who share similar medical experiences, Wellsphere provides an impressive support base—not just medical information.
3. Ease of finding what you are looking for: We encourage you to test side-by-side the search functionality of Wellsphere and its competitors, and you will be impressed. We did a non-scientific experiment by searching for “autoimmune diseases” on wellsphere.com, dailystrength.org and webmd.com. Then, tried the same sites with the misspelling “auto immune disease.” Wellsphere won.

Here are the Screenshots:
Wellsphere 1 2
DailyStrength 1 2
Web MD 1 2

Why is Wellsphere Valley Zen?
1. We like the clean design despite the huge quantity of info.
2. Treating the mind and the body
3. Focus on applied knowledge and shared experience

ValleyZen Exclusive Video
Check out this interview with CEO Ron Gutman and CIO Dr. Geoff Rutledge.

Post by
Drue Kataoka
Svetlozar Kazanjiev

4 Comments so far

  1. Cynthia Cannady

    This inspires me. What a great idea to combine work with a physical activity that calms people and makes them feel both good about themselves and also comfortable around their colleagues. Its definitely out of the box thinking.
    I am going to try the Wellsphere cite when I need medical info.

  2. francine hardaway

    of my blogs, the one about my hip replacement, has been picked up by Wellsphere for its chronic illnesses community. I’ve been emailing Dr. Rutledge and I’m excited about the launch.

  3. Drue Kataoka

    @ Cynthia – We’ve had the opportunity to go behind the scenes there and it is a dedicated team.

    @ Francine – They are wise to pick up your blog and it is generous of you to share your experience. I’m sure “Dr. Geoff” as he is fondly known by the Wellsphere community will be glad.

  4. Vlasta Diamant

    Wellsphere, what a treasure chest of topics, information! So much of what I am interested in or have delved into myself, like the connection of mind and body, alternative means of healing to allopathic treatment. The role of music in well-being. Thanks for enriching us all beyond measure! Nowadays we are all health-explorers! I have recently undergone a total knee replacement by the “less invasive” surgery. In my blog on the experience I touch on intuition and body messages leading me to the procedure, pre- and post-surgery events, expectations and physical therapy:


    I wish to add my experience and thoughts to the pool of Wellsphere’s for the benefit of all who seek to know their bodies.

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