Dr. Rajiv Kumar shares his entrepreneurial journey starting ShapeUp and his big vision for using social networking wellness programs to drive the health of large populations.

The ModernMD: Dr. Rajiv Kumar

Dr. Rajiv Kumar is the Co-Founder and CEO of ShapeUp, a leading global provider of clinically-proven, social networking-based employee wellness programs. ShapeUp has pioneered an innovative approach to behavior change that uses social networking technology to reduce healthcare costs and improve the health of large populations.

Rajiv is also the Founder and Chairman of ShapeUp RI, a statewide non-profit organization that he established in December 2005 to help Rhode Islanders improve their health. For his work with ShapeUp RI, Dr. Kumar is one of ten Americans who received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Community Health Leader Award in 2009.


“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Wayne Gretsky


Rajiv is a non-practicing physician who has dedicated his life to healthcare entrepreneurship. As a first year medical student, he became very interested in prevention and started exploring opportunities to help his patients improve their lifestyle behaviors and eat healthier. He was struck by the lack of tools at his disposal and the conventional wisdom that his patient would eventually be treated and managed with medications. Rajiv started to review those patients that were successful in reaching their health and wellness goals and realized many of the success stories were from patients who used social networks to help them succeed. Listen as Dr. Kumar shares his journey starting ShapeUp and how he transitioned from medical student to full time entrepreneur. 

What would be your advice to other medical students interested in entrepreneurship?

Medicine is a hamster wheel – once you get on, it is hard to get off. Medical school is not going anywhere. If you have something you are passionate about, go do it. Learn to hit the pause button in life, take the risk, and go start a company.


The Idea: How can social networks drive behavior change to improve the health of health of large populations? Listen as Dr. Rajiv Kumar shares his big vision for ShapeUp! 

Failures: Rajiv shares war stories with his initial hiring process using Craigslist and initial challenges with their approach to legal council. 

Success: From the initial hiring process, they have developed a sophisticated and robust system using psychometric profiling and reference checking.

Lesson Learned: Get your feet wet and learn from your mistakes with the goal of making more right decisions than wrong decisions. It is important early on to surround yourself with a team of advisors.


Best Advice: Two types of people in this world – energy givers and energy takers. Surround yourself with energy givers and get away from energy takers.

– ShapeUp Chairman of Board

Advice for CEOs: Learn the concept of winning smart, choose your battles, and focus on successfully growing your company with your focus on having the biggest impact on growth.

Daily Success Habit:

Meditation and be more mindful – Meditation drives a lot of positive change in your life. Rajiv uses the Headspace App (https://www.headspace.com/). Check it out and treat your head right!

Exercise – Personal trainer and exercises on a regular basis… Not just because it his business but he believes in it.

Healthcare Trends:

Wellness – Big disrupter in the space is wearable devices that allow for the collection of continuous data. This data can be harvested by employers, health plans, and physicians.

Mobile technology – We can reach people in new ways and have just scratched the surface on what is possible. 


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