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New site Fitango brokers self-improvement plans

Structured like an app store, new site presents itself as a lesson plan marketplace for everything from fitness to language learning. Note to founders: you've got your work cut out for you in keeping the scam artists out.

Just in time for New Year's resolution season, a site called Fitango has launched, intending to provide a marketplace where people can buy "plans" from experts who can offer online tutorials in anything from training for a marathon to transitioning to a vegan diet to learning as much Italian as possible one month before traveling to Florence.

It's structured like an app store. Pick an "Actionplan," pay for it (though some are free), and you'll receive instructions, including video and audio, where applicable, over a given span of time. You're invited to bring on "motivators" from your various social networks, share progress on Facebook and elsewhere, and interact with other people participating in the same plan. Right now, plans are accessible on an iPad-friendly Web site; mobile apps are in the works, as well.

The "expert" offering the plan picks the price (most appear to be less than $20, at the moment); Fitango typically takes a 30 percent cut of sales.

As a platform, it's a compelling concept, but if the founding team isn't ready, it could have a major problem with credibility. There's a problematic underworld of scammers, hucksters, and get-rich-quick impresarios out there who already dominate many of the remnant display ads you see online (from work-at-home scams to whatever those acai berries are suppose to do).

Fitango said it's doing a lot to maintain quality and prepare for a potential onslaught of these opportunists--a terms of use for "experts" is detailed and stringent; certain activities are banned in the first place, including any involving gambling or firearms. It added that plans need to go through an approval process before they can appear on the site in the first place, members can flag any activity they see as potentially problematic, and experts are required to be able to provide certification or proof of competency, if asked for it.

Beyond these safeguards, Fitango is also working to get some well-known "experts" of its own on board. It has deals in the works with brands and celebrities that can use it to sell custom plans--say, cooking tutorials from a celebrity chef or weight loss plans attached to a fitness magazine.