We had an interesting chat with Ms. “Jennifer Davis”, Founder and CEO of the San Francisco- United States based startup “Vertical Method”
Below is the interview we conducted with her:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
We provide posture strength for techies and the desk-bound workforce. Our patent-pending apparatus, exercise method and “medium is the message” studio environment is the first of its kind. We provide self-collected data through tactical feedback. The fitness industry is behind in addressing the demands technology places on young human architecture. We’ve created a product and method
for gyms and workspaces.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Founded in 2013 we were stealth during the provisional patent period. Now we’re patent-pending, we’re sold and manufactured our apparatus and programming and serviced over 1500 clients at our SF location since May 2014.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
We’re completing an app designed to teach and track posture fitness. We sell licensing and a subscription program after the first year. We manufacture the patent-pending VertiBAR™ for group fitness and personal training. We create programming with essential standing exercises to counteract sitting, slouching & tech-neck. We design bio-mechanically balanced 1-hour classes ranging in difficulty from extreme to mild.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I am the founder and CEO and a former dance professional. Our app designer is my longtime dance client. Integrated health and fitness specialists contributing to our programming discovered me in SF, identified the uniqueness of my product and asked to partner.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Posture is the future of fitness and a blind spot in the fitness industry. Nothing new is being done to truly counteract the imbalance of a modern tech workplace and lifestyle. Vertical Method is the only standing posture solution. Telling people to “stand more” is futile if fitness can’t teach them how. A rise in joint replacement surgery is proof our industry must refocus to stay current. We offer the only standing posture fitness experience of its kind.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Milestones: We’re completing our 1st year at a highly visible location in San Francisco. The patent-pending VertiBAR™ is re-designed, now in its 4th generation. We’ve been asked to participate in Sweat Inc. filming July 2015 for Spike TV. Our 1st Satellite location recently opened at Body Dynamics in Boulder, CO. We’ve partnered with SPRI® to design and distribute Vertical Method Kits to accompany our apparatus. We’ve developed new programming to satisfy emerging markets.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
We don’t have direct competition. Patent-pending VertiBAR™ is unique to the fitness market. Our perspective on standing posture is unmatched to Pilates and yoga. Only Vertical Method offers hip-centric/posterior chain specific standing posture fitness for a young, modern, tech-savvy population.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Our greatest obstacle is the antiquated idea that “posture” belongs in therapy, not fitness. Wearable tech, ergonomic chairs, braces and devices mislead consumers to believe their tech lifestyle is balanced without cross training. VM must reeducate in a culture already plagued by a lack of movement, excessive sitting and great desire for a magic bullet/easy fix.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
“Sitting is the new smoking” is only the tip of the iceberg. Each workplace puts unique stress on a body and not all strength training is right for everyone. A techie must cross-train for career longevity, just like a professional athlete. Starting young with preventative fitness is the only solution. Posture doesn’t start at your back and shoulders. Hip health is the key to longevity. Cardio is not the only answer to exercise.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
If you build a business to help people, you will succeed. Our foundation principles are about increasing productivity while preventing injury and disease. As demand for Vertical Method continues to grow it’s clear that the tech generation is not only innovative, but
proactive as well.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We foresee installing VM Studios onto the campuses of tech companies creating techie specific fitness programming and opportunity for team building events. Also, we’re in the early stages of developing a VertiBAR™ System for home and adding sensor and Bluetooth technology into our VertiBAR™ to collect data and track progress.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Before VM I was a full-time professional DanceSport competitor and coach. My gentlemen students struggled with their posture and frame after long sedentary hours at desks or commuting. Originally, I created the VertiBAR™ for my male clients to create confident, unwavering back and lateral strength they could recreate while sitting.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
The urban tech generation is already feeling the physical effects of their career path. In general urban techies are looking for guidance and disillusioned by the off-the-shelf ideas some heavy hitters like Equinox still advertise. “Just get your sweat on” isn’t good enough, not proactive and will not maintain career longevity. Vertical Method is a long-term solution.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Meeting distribution and licensing demands. Also, programming is primarily distributed through the app and its completion is 6 months away. The app is an essential component to our success.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
For an existing gym or studio: cost-effective revitalization of their group fitness program. For tech company: (1) preventative focused fitness designed for their unique population (2) opportunity to develop and customize sensor tech.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Our social media campaign began in 2013 during R&D at a pop-up location in the SF Dogpatch neighborhood. Next, we partnered with FitMob.com and ClassPass.com to gain access to their focused marketing machines.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our current customers are urban fitness enthusiasts between the ages of 22-60. Moving into Boulder CO we’ll have the opportunity to work with outdoor athletes and a less urban demographic. Our target customers are technology companies with on-campus fitness facilities and industry leaders ready to bring posture to the forefront of fitness.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Current customers find us via word-of-mouth, press, social media and ClassPass.com. Participation in Sweat Inc. for Spike TV may introduce Vertical Method to existing fitness studios looking to modernize their current groupX program model.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
They say that there’s nothing else like it and they feel great when they leave our class. Though they might feel sore the next day, it’s “the good sore” and often followed by feeling stronger, taller, more relaxed and open. Men notice an open chest, stronger core and back and reduced neck and shoulder pain.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’ve operated on a small, local scale to complete writing the patent and R&D. Now, we have additional trainers in our program, we’ve moved into a tech city outside of CA and we’re backed by ClassPass.com and SPRI® as we begin operating on a national scale. We’ll provide large-scale training through our app and work closely with our partners to service our Licensing and Subscription model to accommodate our growth.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Our biggest missing feature is the training app (coming soon) and subscription platform (still in production). It is challenging to sell more than equipment until program distribution in complete.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Our patent attorneys from EcoTech Law Group in SF will file international patents in the next 12-15 months. We’ll expand into international markets accordingly.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Vertical Method is moving forward without restrictions. We’re negotiating with future Licensees in Boston, So Cal and Memphis. We’ve enjoyed the synthesis of both discovering and being draw into new markets. After the completion of our app, product and programming distribution can proceed simultaneously without disruption. The VertiBAR™ Studio is an innovative addition to any fitness format.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We’re not looking to hire at this time. When we do we’ll focus on exploring the benefits of self-collected data via sensor tech to compliment or tactile feedback system and increase performance.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are looking for partnership opportunities and funding sources. Our SF storefront is self-sustainable but product development and expanding into new markets will require funding. I can be contacted at email@example.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
A lesson from dance applied to business: timing is everything. My advice to entrepreneurs: be in it to win it and always refer back to your business plan. and stop slouching because posture=productivity!
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
I appreciate start-up.co for this opportunity.