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Heath Wilson: Create Healthy Habits with Technology as an Entrepreneur

APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY When was the last time you made it through an entire evening without checking your phone? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. According to research from Zippia, the average American spends upwards of five hours a day on their phone – a habit most of us wish we could break. Our […]

Disconnect to Reconnect with Heath Wilson


When was the last time you made it through an entire evening without checking your phone? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. According to research from Zippia, the average American spends upwards of five hours a day on their phone – a habit most of us wish we could break. Our latest podcast guest, Heath Wilson, has created a solution to help us disconnect to reconnect.

As a veteran founder and father of four, Heath had so much wisdom to share on being a present parent, setting boundaries as an entrepreneur, and how to define your own version of success.

Press play for the full interview or keep reading below!

Diving Headfirst into Entrepreneurship

Heath isn’t our first podcast guest to describe himself as an accidental entrepreneur. 

“I don’t have stories about lemonade stands or mowing grass as a kid,” he says. “It just kind of fell into place. But once it started, the spark of entrepreneurship stuck with me and I’ve never gone back.”

After working in the corporate finance world for a few years, Heath was out for lunch with his co-workers when the conversation turned to how out of touch their work felt. They ended up putting together a business plan for a new finance technology company.

“This was the early nineties, and I was pretty young. I knew nothing about everything.” When the choice came to either go to grad school or start a company, Heath took the leap.

Early Success 

Heath and his three co-founders launched their technology business in 2000, a data platform to help investors make better decisions. 

The timing was right and with a great team behind the idea, the company took off – eventually growing to $100 million in revenue with a team of 500 employees and offices around the world. “It grew well beyond what we’d ever dreamed of.”

Learning to Persevere 

Despite their success, it wasn’t always smooth sailing at Heath’s first company. “There were moments where we thought, ‘Is this it?’ Can we weather this storm?’” 

It helped that Heath had his co-founders to lean on during hard times. As entrepreneurs, we often have to take on tasks outside of our skill set, but Heath and his co-founders found their strengths and weaknesses balanced one another out.

“The highs and lows of starting a business are daily. If you can bring others on the journey with you, that makes it easier.”

Balancing Optimism with Market Demand

Because Heath and his team created a Software as a Service (SaaS) company before the term even existed, there was no blueprint to follow. They had to rely on their intuition.

“I’m a serial optimist,” Heath says. “I always believe things are going to work out. And we had that will to succeed, to prove that we could make something out of nothing.” 

Aside from that relentless drive to succeed, Heath and his co-founders learned to listen to the marketplace and read signals. Once they saw the market was receptive, that gave them the confidence to keep going – and to increase their prices. 

Premium Pricing

Heath and his co-founders wanted to be seen as a premium vendor, not the cheapest option. They priced their subscription service like they were the best on the market, even when they were just starting out. 

“It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that forced us to get better.”

Selling the Company

Heath stayed at his first company for 18 years. Around 2016, he and his co-founders decided it was time to sell. They’d been running hard for 16 years and the constant travel was exhausting.

By that time, private equity investment had allowed them to expand globally. They had offices in London, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Australia.

The founders decided it was time for the company to enter its next stage of growth, one without them at the helm. “When I started to lose passion for coming to work, that’s when I knew.”

After six months of negotiations, Heath and his co-founders sold their company. Although he had enough money to comfortably retire, Heath didn’t feel his mission as an entrepreneur was over just yet.

The Value of Giving Back

Heath’s father was a financial advisor and growing up, their family’s income changed drastically when their father found success. But what never changed was their father’s commitment to giving back. 

“Whether we had a little money or a lot, my dad always gave money away.” As a result, Heath was never that attached to his finances. “It’s always been easy for me to write checks to others and to focus on that giving aspect first.” 

Even when the company grew beyond Heath’s wildest expectations, his lifestyle stayed mostly the same.

Give, Save, Spend

“A pastor at our local church in Atlanta taught us to give, save, and spend. If you make $100, then you give away $10, save $10, and live off the rest.”

That spirit of generosity is what led Heath to his next venture. “The goal wasn’t to make more money, it was to build something that made an impact in people’s lives.”

Choosing Your Sacrifices

Heath learned a lot of lessons from his first company, one of them being, “You can’t be great at everything. You have to choose what to sacrifice.” 

Back then, Heath let the business choose for him. “I was way too busy, I traveled too much, and I neglected time with my family. I can only see that in hindsight. Whether it was ego or responsibility to the team, I just worked too much.”

Looking back, he’s certain he could have traveled 30% less and still sold the company for the same amount. 

After taking some time off to reconnect with what was most important, Heath decided to start a new company – one focused on helping families reconnect with each other.

Founding Aro

Like most entrepreneurs, Heath is a visionary, always thinking about the future. Add in a smartphone and social media, and it becomes even harder to stay focused in the present. That struggle was the impetus for Heath’s new business.

Aro is an in-home solution to help families manage their screen time and create healthier relationships with their phones. The membership-based platform consists of a beautiful device and an app, which work in tandem to track your time away from your phone.

“It’s essentially the opposite of Apple screen time. “When you look at screen time, you feel frustrated and ashamed. When you look at your Aro time, you feel proud.”

Disconnect to Reconnect with What Matters Most

The company name comes from a Māori word meaning to notice, to take heed, or turn towards, and that’s exactly what Aro helps families do: turn toward one another. The system makes it easy to put away your phone and spend intentional time together.

Instead of tracking how long they spent scrolling on Instagram, Aro users can see stats like how many hours they spent enjoying family dinners, reading, or even watching TV without a second screen.

“It’s not about vilifying our phones,” Heath says. “It’s about becoming more intentional about how you use a powerful tool.” 

The Struggle with Screen Time

The idea for Aro was years in the making. Heath was leading a mentorship program for high-achieving entrepreneurs when he asked the group a powerful question: “What’s keeping you from being the person you want to be?”

Without fail, every person in the room pulled out their phone. 

That was when Heath realized he wasn’t the only one struggling. “I knew I needed to get better for my family. And there was an opportunity to help other people get better as well.” 

Breaking the Habit

Although many of us feel like we’re addicted to our phones, Heath disagrees. “It’s not an addiction, it’s a bad set of habits. When you realize that, it gives you agency to change those habits.”

Luckily, there’s a lot of science on habit formation and how to break bad habits. So Heath began researching how to build a product that would create lasting behavioral change.

The first prototype was a simple shoe box, to test the idea of having a visual cue to put the phone down. When that worked, he began working on an app to gamify the experience and make it more fun. After another successful beta round, he knew they were onto something.

Product Development and Marketing

Heath started the company in 2020. He built a team to help with app development and outsourced the hardware component, knowing the device needed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

“It had to be wife-approved because it lives in the kitchen and living room.” You can see the end result on the Aro website – it looks more like a beautiful home decor piece than a lockbox!

As for marketing, Heath has focused on telling their family’s story, knowing many parents struggle with managing screen time. “Most of us have good intentions, we just haven’t aligned our actions with those intentions.”

The device is tailored for families, which has made it popular in the faith community. The company is also on social media, a strategy Heath initially had mixed feelings about. “In the end, we decided we needed to fish where the fish are.”  

How to Build Your Business Around Your Life

Heath doesn’t plan on repeating any of the mistakes he made at his last company. That’s why he and his co-founder got together with their wives early on to set boundaries and discuss the company culture.

Whether you’re a solopreneur or leading a team, this is a great practice to adopt with your partner. Make sure everyone understands what the expectations are as your business grows. 

Another practice Heath recommends is to schedule your non-negotiables, whether that’s weekly date nights, family dinners, or walking the dog every morning. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen!

Setting Boundaries as an Entrepreneur

Heath has no problem setting boundaries with his team because protecting family time is what Aro is all about. “Culture is the most important thing in a company, and we need to demonstrate that from the top down.”

Although Aro still requires Heath to travel on occasion, he’s learned to communicate better with his family. “It’s about making sure it’s on our terms this time around, not just my terms.”

Define Your Own Version of Success

The biggest lesson Heath learned at his first company was that success looks different to everyone – and if you don’t define success for yourself, the world will do it for you. 

In this season of life, Heath’s version of success looks like creating more space for himself and his family. “I’ve learned that the world won’t end if people can’t reach me.”

As Mary O’Connor said: “It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.”

More from this Episode

To hear more about Heath, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.



Aro— Available now!

David Brooks Article: The Man who can Measure True Happiness


Heath Wilson

Heath Wilson is the co-founder of Aro Technology, Inc., a tech company that aims to help people put their phones down and live life uninterrupted. An entrepreneur, visionary, culture builder and idea generator, Heath co-founded eVestment prior to Aro, and sold the company to NASDAQ in 2018. His experience in data-driven solutions coupled with his role as a husband and a father of four led Heath to help develop Aro. As co-founder of Aro, he is committed to helping people, companies, and families create healthy relationships with their technology through passionate leadership and expertise.



Website | Instagram 




August 31, 2023

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