The Better Personal Trainer


“Our agents are giving our customers relationship, accountability, and an ear who is willing to listen to whatever it is they need to talk about. Whatever it is the person needs to keep them on track for their goals, we’re going to give that to them, but we’re doing it all by text message,” says Dan Rye, co-founder and CTO of Kai Coach. Kai, a lifestyle coaching company enabled through text messaging, was founded in 2017.


“There are three founders involved at Kai. I am the CTO, Jonathan Smith is the CEO and Jane Decker is the COO. We started this company called Kai Coach, and we are building technology to enable empathetic, human communication,” says Rye. Kai currently has three full-time coaches that are available to help customers reach their goals every day, entirely through text message.

“Right now, with our technology where it’s at, we have a 100-to-1 ratio, meaning that one of our agents working 30 to 40 hours a week can support 100 clients,” says Rye. “We’re hoping to scale that over the next few months to a 300-to-1 ratio.”

While the concept of a life coach via text is appealing, many people don’t understand exactly what role Kai could play in their lives.

“Our biggest focus right now is acquiring new users and finding new and creative ways to explain what it is that we do. People understand what a trainer is at the gym, they understand what a life coach might be, but they don’t know what it would look like to have someone who has daily text based conversation with them to keep them on their goals. And if they do, it’s their friends,” says Rye. “But as much as your friends might care about you, they’re not always the best accountability partners. We want to challenge you when you need to be challenged and comfort you when you need comfort. That’s what we try to be for people.”

Kai was originally founded in Cincinnati but is currently operating out of Chicago with an accelerator called Techstars. However, the company plans to come back to Cincinnati after their time with Techstars is over.

“Long term, we see Kai being your coach. Not necessarily just your fitness coach, but your ‘whatever behavior change you want to have’ coach. If you want to get to sleep at a better time, if you want to read x number of books, whatever it is. We want everyone to have that kind of coach in their life.”


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