Tomer Ben-Kiki, Co-Founder & CEO of Happify

My NatveAdVice:


Tomer is an experienced entrepreneur who has held the top leadership position at several companies, successfully steering them from inception through rapid growth. Previously, Tomer was the Co-Founder and CEO of Oberon Media, a leading casual gaming company providing for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Microsoft, Yahoo and Sprint. Prior to Oberon, Tomer was the Co-Founder and President of RichFx, an e-commerce startup that provided visual merchandising technologies to top retailers. He graduated cum laude from Tel Aviv University with a B.Sc. in Computer Science, and served as an IDF officer for seven years.

Tell us about Happify. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

My first introduction to the science of happiness was with a short talk I heard about the topic a few years back. I was amazed that happiness was actually being scientifically studied, but equally as surprising was the fact that no one really knew about it... When my partner and I were looking at this opportunity more seriously in 2011, we both felt that our background in mass market gaming could be very useful in making this science a part of everyone’s life.

Happify is an emotional fitness platform that uses science-based online games and activities to increase happiness. We envision a world where people perceive happiness as something that is winnable and they incorporate that notion into their daily lives. We want Happify to become the trusted “bridge” between discoveries coming from scientific research of happiness and the general public.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

Digital Health is happening – the race to become consumers’ ‘health operating system’ has begun this year. This will once again transform the way we perceive technology and interact with it. Its also great news for Happify, since it validates the notion that consumer technology can be harnessed to promote wellbeing, making adoption wider and faster. In addition, being able to access digital health data will help us make our service more accurate and effective.

Mental health is essential for overall health – people are increasingly becoming aware that mental, or emotion fitness is a critical component of overall health. Countless studies have shown that the way we feel, the amount of stress we live under and the level of satisfaction we have with our lives – are as important to our health as nutrition and exercise. This is now becoming a trend in what constitutes a ‘healthy lifestyle’.  Since Happify provides a great tool for people who adopt this mindset, so as the trends builds up, we expect more and more people to view us as their ‘emotional gym’.

Define happiness.

Scientists look at happiness as a combination of positive emotions (how much joy you experience) and life satisfaction (how meaningful and fulfilling your life is). This means, by definition, that happiness is not about feeling good all the time. Each of us needs our own combination of experiencing small pleasures and pursuing meaningful goals.

Life Motto?

Don’t have ‘the one’, but here are a couple I find inspiring:

“The real trick to leadership is not driving the train. It’s laying the track.”

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not – you are right”

Happify's Motto?

“Happiness is winnable”

Your greatest successes as founder of Happify? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

The first time we saw the results from our initial test, showing that we drove a significant increase in people’s level of well being within a few weeks - with our rudimentary, shoe-string budget alpha version. Making a real impact on people’s lives - that was a great moment.

I don’t think there was a single ‘most difficult’ moment. I would say though that the overall atmosphere towards happiness being researched and being seriously pursued, initially sparked a mixed response from the media. That has dramatically changed in the past year or so: we’ve seen a lot of balanced and favorable media coverage this year. I think it’s part of a bigger trend, hopefully we helped in getting the message out there as well.

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

I noticed that most ‘how to make it as an entrepreneur’ advice focuses on external, measurable things. Here are a couple of things to consider that are less quantifiable:

Make ‘a truly worthwhile goal’ a requirement - Doing good and doing well can happen together – it’s really up to you. Plus, in those inevitable ‘what if it doesn’t work?’ moments, knowing you are building something of real value helps keep your bearings straight.

Leap a little – a small step is sometimes a huge mental breakthrough, especially when dealing with the unknown. So try making some small steps in the new direction – maybe its trying to pitch your idea to someone you don’t know, or taking 10 minutes to imagine what success might look like for you.

Get ready to live with contradictions – use them, in fact. “Show flexibility” but “stay true to the vision”, think creatively “out of the box” - while managing budgets & timelines, be focused – but don’t miss out on critical new trends, just to name a few. There isn’t a single principle that holds true in all cases, so its as much an art as it is science.

Favorite travel destination?

I went on a once-in-a-lifetime diving trip to Galapagos Islands. Both underwater and above, this was the most authentic nature experience I ever had. And there were penguins!

What literature is on your bed stand?

I’m currently reading ‘Historical Decisions, Hysterical Decisions” – describing some pivotal moments in world history from the point of view of how leaders made their decisions. Hilarious, inspiring and sobering at the same time.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

If I had to choose, I guess I would say Dumplings and Mojitos – not necessarily together though!

Current passion?

Vegan cooking. My wife has gone all-in a few months ago (I still enjoy the occasional burger). Its quite surprising how good these dishes turn out, and I have to admit that this stuff is, well, better for you…

What's next for Happify?

We’re only getting started, so there’s a ton on our wish list. We see Happify growing to become the catalyst for the next big thing in lifestyle – being mindful of your mental state and taking care of your emotional fitness. In the short run – our Android version is launching soon, which is very exciting for us, and a super cool new game is coming soon as well. We always continue to improve our service so stay tuned!