Eesha Sheikh knows all too well what it feels like to be an obese child. She was severely bullied and humiliated at school for being overweight. That led to her take charge of her fitness and with the help of her father’s incentivized model of unlimited toys, she lost 65 pounds. But while struggling with childhood obesity, Eesha developed an urge to create an impact in the world by improving the health status of people by empowering them to take control of their own lives. This amalgamation of her young life story coaxed the idea which laid the foundation of her company: Playpal.
As she was well aware of the struggle that comes with keeping good health, she wanted to put one straightway out for those on the same journey. After completing her masters in medicinal chemistry, Eesha channeled her scientific research into obesity and proceeded with her vision to change the landscape of digital healthcare industry.
On stepping into the realm of the tech world which is majorly dominated by men, Eesha felt it is more about the entrance barrier than one’s ability to progress. Being a woman who wanted to break the code and create something new and different from the norm, Eesha had several challenges ahead of her. She had to bump heads with many in the industry including those close to her, to even get her ideas acknowledged. She decided to keep going and let her actions and achievements do all the talking.
“There is always a hindrance when you are trying to break through an existing norm but the best thing you can do is to remain focused towards your goal and let your achievements do the talking,” says Eesha Sheikh, Founder, and CEO of PlayPal.
The Future of Health
In 2014 Playpal finally took off in Colorado, USA. Their mission is to lay the foundation of an all-encompassing, IoT driven ecosystem that leverages AI, machine learning and gamification of health to help individuals manage their health in the best possible way. Playpal provides users with quantifiable evidence of their health with a HICO score based on the Health Capital model and offers tangible health benefits and real-world digital assets by rewarding them with PlayCoins. Simply put, as a digital health marketplace that unifies the global health IoT devices, apps, and stakeholders under one banner, Playpal plans to reinvent the perception of health by helping individuals build their health capital.
Forward in their journey, Playpal came together with John Hopkins University and Atena to work on an avant-garde research study called ‘Innovation of Humanity’, based on gamified health that formed the inspiration behind the pilot game ‘Keeko’ which showed great success with both adults and kids. This response pushed them to continuously strive for better and stand out as the leading health-tech-gaming company.
Today, Playpal’s head office is in Denver, CO and other three fully operational branches in the US, China, and Pakistan.
Though PlayPal has grown exponentially Eesha believes there’s still a long way ahead. “I am a perfectionist and I am here to make a change in the health tech industry. I may be successful on paper but not in my heart yet. I still have many milestones to achieve before I can be satisfied with myself,” smiles Eesha. “My current goal is to do a successful token fundraiser for Playpal in Pakistan whilst simultaneously launching and selling our AI and products in China.”
Eesha Sheikh, Founder & CEO, PlayPal.
There’s no shortcut to success
Eesha believes in leading by example and inspiring others with true passion. According to her love and fear are two powerful elements. “Both of them together are important to lead but in the correct quantities and balance,” says Eesha. Her mantra for success is unscrambled by four simple rules:
Number 1: Belief and Faith in Yourself.
Number 2: YOU are your biggest hero.
Number 3: Giving up is NEVER an option
Number 4: Remove the word ‘impossible’ from your dictionary.
Of course teamwork makes the dream work. She asserts having a skillful and respectful human resource is very crucial for any business. She, therefore, remains extremely mindful while making someone a part of her team. She shares, “Over the years, the Playpal team has become more and more cross-functional, our structure has become very lean and agile, so now (more than ever before) I am very careful to hire people who can fit well with this and can bring creativity and ingenuity to their work. Technology is at the core of every team at Playpal, so anyone I hire must have a keen interest for it.”
Other than that she quickly adds, “Persistence and hard work always pay off. There is no shortcut to success. Just remain persistent and ready to overcome all the hurdles which come in your way.”
Never settle for less
For the women of her generation, Eesha has a beautiful outlook: “I think the women of my generation are in the midst of a revolutionary time. Women are speaking up about issues such as sexual harassment, glass ceiling, the second shift, sexuality and other subjects that have been a taboo for so long. What I find particularly fascinating is that we have come to realize and accept that there is no single definition of a strong and accomplished woman- a woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mother is just as respectable as is a woman who does a blue or white-collar job,” exclaims Eesha. She believes that being a woman is one’s greatest strength rather than a weakness.
Indeed! Eesha’s dedication and courage are remarkable. Even when she is not working, Eesha makes sure she stays in touch with her molecular and medicinal research. Apart from that being a perfectionist and a fitness enthusiast, she works out regularly and spends most of her spare time in renovating her house.
But one thing that she wants all women to realize is that “We need to stop assuming that good work will always speak for itself. There are times, especially for women who are climbing up to a leadership position, when you have to speak out for yourself and point out your good work to get the praise that it deserves,” says Eesha. “Whether its work or other matters of life, never settle for less than what you deserve.”