Get to Know the Finalists of the 2018 Start-Up Challenge

Click here to register for the 2018 Industry Leaders Summit, where you can watch the finalists compete for the grand prize!

Total Body Board, Charles Austin

What does your company do?

My company is the manufacturer of the Total Body Board (TBB), which is the most versatile piece of fitness equipment ever created. The Total Body Board is a resistance band based piece of equipment, where no other piece of fitness equipment is needed to achieve a complete total body workout from head to toe. It would take a room full of equipment and the individual to spend tens of thousands of dollars to do all that can be done on the Total Body Board. No matter your age, gender, level of fitness or condition, all can work out on the Total Body Board. The Total Body Board doesn’t require much space and exercises can be performed on or off the board. Cardio, strength training, core work, muscle building, weight loss and gain, injury rehabilitation and prevention, sports performance training, yoga, Pilates, HIIT and group training all can be performed on the TBB. Also, it’s portable, making it convenient to train wherever. The TBB can be used in the gym, at home, the park, the beach, physical therapy clinics or wherever there is a space that measures 8’ x 4’. Plus, it’s very simple to set up and it’s easy to use. The Total Body Board also has a slide board feature that can easily attach, where you can use resistance bands to make sliding back and forth more challenging. The Total Body Board’s only limitation is the user’s imagination!!!

What inspired this idea?

The Total Body Board came to me in a dream at 2:48 am. I have a sports and fitness training facility and I always felt there was a piece of fitness equipment that would allow me to train my clients, as well as myself, more creatively and efficiently when it came to resistance band training. I used resistance band training to help me rehabilitate myself at home from what was supposed to be a career-ending knee injury. Three years after surgery, I won the 1996 Olympic High Jump Gold Medal and set the current Olympic High Jump record with a jump of 7’ 10”. I knew first-hand how resistance band training could be greatly beneficial to all if the problems of how to safely and conveniently mount them and being able to have an unlimited amount of resistance to achieve a high level workout could be solved.

Why is your company important to the overall sports & fitness industry?

Resistance band training has been around for years. Also, it’s very well-documented how with resistance band training you can get the exact same results that you can with free and machine weights. Resistance band training can be safely used by all ages, fitness levels and conditions, and they are safer for your joints, tendons and ligaments. Resistance band training allows the user to train in all plans of motion, which you can’t do with free or machine weights. When you add resistance bands to the Total Body Board, the limitation of what you can do is only limited by the user’s imagination and creativity. The Total Body Board is like having a complete fitness center at your fingertips at all times. It eliminates the need for any other piece of fitness equipment to achieve a complete total body workout that can be done in as little as 10 minutes. The Total Body Board is not just a piece of fitness equipment, it’s a fitness tool that can be used by all. No matter if you are looking to get in shape or are a professional athlete wanting to compete at a higher level, the Total Body Board can make it happen. It’s like the Swiss army knife of the fitness equipment arena. The Total Body Board has global appeal and can safely make a huge difference in the life of the user. All you have to do is Click and Get Fit!!!

FlexIt Inc, Austin Cohen

What does your company do?

FlexIt is a mobile app that quickly enables users to access gyms wherever and whenever they want, and only pay for the amount of the time they are in the facility.

FlexIt offers consumers the flexibility that they expect (that apps like Uber have shown them that they can and should expect), while enhancing profitability for fitness clubs. FlexIt provides club access to users while simultaneously providing clubs with access to a large network of prospective members.

FlexIt users simply open the FlexIt mobile app, locate the gym they want to try, and then experience what the club has to offer. And if they aren’t satisfied, they can leave and simply pay for the time that they were in the club. Rates are by the minute, and there is no membership or minimum purchase requirement.

FlexIt comes at no cost to its club partners and drives incremental revenue for the clubs via generous revenue sharing. FlexIt also holds major appeal for clubs as a very simple, yet powerful lead generation platform that involves almost no hardware or training for the front desk. FlexIt pushed leads to clubs by appealing to new users with competitive rates, no monthly commitments and a friction-less entrance experience. This helps reduce or eliminate the entrance intimidation that users often feel when exploring a new club for the first time. FlexIt pushes the envelope from a technology standpoint and provides its partners with key consumer insights in real time.

What inspired this idea?

FlexIt was initially inspired by a new and powerful driving force in consumer markets that the Founding Team both experienced and recognized as an opportunity: consumption, whether it’s of products or experiences, is changing dramatically. More than ever, consumers seek personalized experiences that are individually tailored and unfettered, whether it’s purchasing their way on Amazon, traveling their way on Uber, or consuming entertainment their way on whatever screen and streaming service they choose. The health club market is no exception, and people want control over how fitness is accessed. ClassPass started the trend, but there is still an unsatisfied demand being propelled by the popularity of strength training in gyms and by the tailwinds of the modern consumers’ zeitgeist. ClassPass helped to demonstrate that thedemand for choice in accessing fitness exists and is strong — but some time ago I realized that it does not serve the largest portion of the consumer base, which is the part that wants access to full service multi-offering gyms, and not just single offering, classroom style studios. Consumers seek more choice and control over how, when and where they consume, FlexIt is the logical solution to this pain point in the fitness space.

The lack of control and choice in the fitness space often lead to two types of customer outcomes that are not optimal for customers and facilities alike; Juliette (Rojas) and I have experienced both: A) Juliette oversubscribes to gym memberships (not sustainable long term) and overpays additionally for drop-in workouts and personal training in an effort to maintain the choice and control that she wants; B) I cancelled my gym memberships in favor of accessing a-la-carte, since I wanted more choice on where, when and how I access fitness, and since I wanted to explore options in a much broader fashion before deciding where to land for my fitness needs.

FlexIt is the digital enabler that the fitness industry needs to drive optimal outcomes and create a win-win scenario for its facilities and users.

Why is your company important to the overall sports & fitness industry?

FlexIt seeks to reduce the barriers to fitness by enabling people of all ages to design their own fitness experiences easily and affordably. By providing access to a variety of fitness facilities, FlexIt is positioned to serve consumers of all fitness levels, including the casual gym user, the loyalist who also wants to dabble, the traveler who wants choice and the more advanced user who requires a variety of amenities that cannot be provided by one gym. FlexIt is designed to promote active and healthy lifestyles to all. FlexIt has developed key partnerships and relationships with important stakeholders in the sports and fitness ecosystem. These include gym equipment manufacturers, leading gym franchisors and other key players that will help FlexIt grow. FlexIt is a lifestyle brand that is looking to expand its reach beyond clubs through partnerships with companies that encourage healthy and active living.

FlexIt is changing the sports and fitness industries by enabling modern fitness enthusiasts to tailor their fitness experiences to exactly fit their needs, allowing them to work out wherever and whenever they want, in premium and non-premium environments and during peak and off-peak hours. And all of this is totally driven by the user’s choice. In these ways, FlexIt is much like Amazon or Uber — providing unparalleled levels of flexibility that consumers desire, and that are not currently available.

Blinktbi, Jackie McKelvey

What does your company do?

Blinktbi, Inc has developed game-changing technology that yields fast and objective data about neurological function to support medical personnel with clinical assessment of brain function and decision making. The device, EyeStat, stimulates, records and measures the blink reflex using 5 light puffs of air directed near the eyelashes in a 20 second test. The system employs the use of high-speed videography to record and track the eyelids while specific parameters of the blink reflex are measured using a proprietary algorithm. Because this is based on human reflexes, test results cannot be manipulated by the patient.

What inspired this idea?

Over four years ago, a Neurosurgeon / Sports Medicine Specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), was treating patients while in rotation in the Emergency Room. As she was treating multiple patients with head injuries, she identified a common pattern: they seemed to be blinking abnormally. However, at the time, there was no existing non-invasive technology that could stimulate and analyze the blink reflex and provide quantitative data. This is what inspired the doctor, along with additional researchers and physicians, to invent a device that could do just that and in turn provide objective data to assist in the assessment of brain injury. Once the device was developed, Dr. Doug Carnes (blinktbi CEO) immediately recognized its potential and re-partnered with Dr. Ryan Fiorini to license and continue its development in May 2017. This is when blinktbi was born.

Why is your company important to the overall sports & fitness industry?

Under the umbrella of brain injury is concussion, which has become headline news in recent years, specifically in the sports world. An estimated 3.8 million sports-and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year, and research suggests that as many as 50% go unreported and undiagnosed. It is extremely important for an athlete to protect themselves from repeated concussions, as cumulative damage to the brain can be a major problem. If an athlete returns to play before he or she is fully recovered from a concussion and suffers another one, the person is at risk of serious and sometimes degenerative brain injury. Our device can help detect the undetectable, assist in return-to-play protocols, and keep athletes safer from the dangers of repeated concussion.

Elevate Hockey, Andrew Oman

What does your company do?

Specifically, Elevate Hockey is developing a new, unique hockey stick that will revolutionize the game of hockey and is purpose-driven to improve players’ ability to handle, pass and shoot the puck. More broadly, our mission is to elevate the game of hockey by challenging the status quo to develop revolutionary equipment that improves players’ performance and increases players’ and fans’ enjoyment of the game.

What inspired this idea?

Elevate Hockey is built on the principles of curiosity and continuous improvement. Always seeking to answer “Why?” and “How can it be better?” By freeing ourselves from what “is” and pursuing “what can be”, we can solve the problem better, not just improve the existing solution. Based on those values and my experience of playing hockey since the age of 4, I started to look at the hockey stick and began asking questions like, “Why is the blade curved, but the shaft is straight?” Using an old plastic hockey stick, I began experimenting with new stick shapes and geometries and found that the offset shaft produced some significant improvements.

Why is your company important to the overall sports & fitness industry?

Narrowly, hockey is one of a few of the “mature” sports that continues to show steady growth and is continuing to expand across the U.S. outside of the traditional hockey markets in the north. Broadly, Elevate Sports (the parent company of Elevate Hockey) seeks to apply the values above to other sports and bring equipment improvements to other components of the industry. These are long-term objectives that are based on the near-term success of Elevate Hockey.

A-Champs, Kilian Saekel

What does your company do?

At A-Champs, we are worried that the awesome technological progress that we can witness every day will turn generations of kids into robots. Little robots that don’t play in the real world anymore and who don’t get the sufficient physical activity they need to develop into happy and healthy grown-ups.

In 2018, kids spend 5–7 hours a day in front of screens and more than 75% do not get the recommended amount of daily physical activity. This affects the body & mind development of kids: Motor skills don’t develop properly, social skills get lost and depression and obesity rates go up.

That’s why we have developed ROXs — the world’s first interactive, portable fitness-gaming console that uses video-gaming and traditional play patterns plus sensor technology to get kids and families moving. We are camouflaging physical activity as play to create active habits among kids and their families.

What inspired this idea?

Being healthy is a gift. A-Champs co-founder Kilian Saekel knows and appreciates that since he almost lost his wife to cancer a few years ago. Since then, he has had the vision to help kids and families to set the foundation for a healthy life. And the easiest way to stay healthy is to develop active lifestyle patterns.

Why is your company important to the overall sports & fitness industry?

Never has there been a time before when technology is both interfering with and advancing our health. Youth sports participation is down overall and kids are becoming less active.

A-Champs is building an interactive gaming platform that will engage kids and families to increase excitement around play and empower them to improve in sport and/or overall fitness.

We will provide sport and fitness content creators, brands, coaches and teachers a whole new way to engage with kids and families centered on movement and activity.

Nix Biosensors, Meridith Unger

What does your company do?

Nix has developed a disposable sensor that informs athletes, soldiers and laborers on their hydration strategy in real-time, through direct sweat analytics.

What inspired this idea?

The vision for Nix was driven by the white space opportunity between the biosensor market and wearables — for simple, affordable, elegantly designed devices that provide meaningful, actionable data to a consumer about their health and wellness on a day-to-day basis. There are a wide range of applications that fall into this category. Hydration rose to the top as an optimal primary application because as a college basketball player-turned-marathoner, I had experienced first hand the challenges with both dehydration and over-hydration.

Why is your company important to the overall sports & fitness industry?

Nix is uniquely focused on a product solution that solves a problem across the entire sports and fitness industry: Hydration management. Too often, sports tech companies get caught up in creating a product for professional athletes and the valuable press and validation that comes with it, but a truly impactful, scalable business produces a product that addresses market needs for the masses.

Click here to register for the 2018 Industry Leaders Summit, where you can watch the finalists compete for the grand prize!