Health Tech: Wayne Chung On How GOFA Fitness’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
An Interview With Dave Philistin
A strong understanding of your target market is a huge advantage to anyone in any industry. Not everything will go exactly the way you want it to, so you need to be flexible and keep your eyes open for the next step that will bring you closer to your goals. You need to listen to and identify the needs of your users, and welcome feedback from them. This gives you the ability to pivot and change things up as and when you need to, which will keep your business properly geared towards its intended market.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wayne Chung.
Wayne Chung is the CEO and Co-Founder of GOFA International, a new fit-tech start-up that operates using AI technology. He is also the Founder of The Coop Idea and Frogswell, two consumer tech companies that in just their first decade, have amassed over 100USD million in sales. Coming from humble beginnings, his hands-on approach to fostering and growing strategic partnerships, launching products, and building sustainable paths to business growth has been fueled by his entrepreneurial spirit.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I spent most of my childhood being raised by my grandmother. I have so much respect for her. She was a single mom and raised seven children all on her own. Watching her taught me that hard work pays off, and that family is the most important thing in life. She was my biggest motivator, and she’s the reason why I’m here today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I began my career by importing off-season clothing from Hong Kong, which I sold at my university’s market, in my first year. This is still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had because I learned so much. It taught me how to engage with people, how to create experiences that customers enjoy and how to maintain relationships with clients and suppliers, as well as how to seek opportunities and make something out of them.
As my tech-lifestyle business grew globally, and I found new, exciting projects to work on, I look back at the beginning stages of my career when I was selling clothing at uni. It still inspires me to this day. Even now, with GOFA International, as a new startup, I can see similarities. It just goes to show all you need is an idea, and to really believe in that idea.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My wife. She is originally from Taiwan and came to Hong Kong with me after graduating. I was working for my dad at the time and soon found out that his business was on the verge of bankruptcy. I had no choice but to pay off the debt of about US$3 million between 2005 and 2007. She really believed in me every step of the way, even though others didn’t. We got married during this time too. We didn’t even have any money for a celebration or banquet back then. I haven’t forgotten that I still owe her a dream wedding — but one of the things that I love most about her is that she’s so humble. She doesn’t want a lavish event.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are — it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” ― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
I’ve had moments in my career where I’ve failed, and moments where I’ve been successful and I think that at the end of the day, the failures have helped make all of the successes taste that much sweeter. Reaching your goals is all about picking yourself up and persevering, even when it feels like you’ve got no fight left to give.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Humility: I’ve always said that I’m very good at making bad decisions — and I’ve made a fair few throughout my career! In the beginning stages of my success, I started to get a little bit arrogant. I let my ego get the better of me, and as soon as that started happening, I lost focus of my real goals. This had a ripple effect, and eventually, things started to turn sour and those successes were replaced by losses. Staying humble is important because it teaches you to appreciate your wins, and to learn from your mistakes.
Learning to unlearn: The world is constantly changing. Everything is so fast-paced — I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few 10-year-olds out there who know more than I do in a lot of areas. Younger generations are always learning and absorbing new information from the internet. Learning to unlearn things, or how to learn things in a different way, plays a big role in running a business. It’s how you stay on top of trends. This is where having the right team around you is important. At GOFA International, we have built a young team from across the globe, all of them from different backgrounds. I’m learning new things from them every day.
Having a vision: Every journey has a destination — you need to know where you’re going.
Without a vision, you’ll be left wandering aimlessly for too long. There are times when setbacks can take you off course, whether that is a delay in development or maybe even a tech failure. But one thing about me is that I have a silly amount of belief in our vision. I want to help people transform their lifestyles for the better. I constantly remind my team of our vision and remind them to align everything that they do with it. If you believe in your vision, everything else will fall into place.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
Procrastination and boredom are two of the biggest factors stopping people from working out. It’s estimated that over 70% of people aren’t active enough, and hiring personal trainers is costly. It’s just not accessible for everyone. In addition to this, there are millions of people out there who aren’t comfortable with hitting the gym because of various reasons, like their physique or pandemic-related fears. Our main focus is to get people up and excited about moving again by providing them with affordable, accessible training, all from the comfort of their homes. We can offer a personalized fitness program through AI and machine learning.
How do you think your technology can address this?
One of our biggest selling points is the fact that we make fitness and healthier choices feel less intimidating. We’re really disrupting the fitness industry with our technology. Workouts and healthier lifestyles are becoming more accessible. You don’t need fancy gym memberships or expensive equipment; you just need your smartphone. GOFA is an all-in-one app that can monitor your progress and help you improve your results with personalized tips and advice, exactly as a personal trainer would do. But the app doesn’t just stop at fitness — it takes a holistic approach to wellness that will include sleep tracking and meditation too.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
As soon as the pandemic hit, all gyms were locked down. I noticed that my wife was working out with YouTube. She’d randomly pick workouts to do, but she wasn’t getting the results that she wanted. She would also gravitate towards the videos that had the most views and would often lose track of which workouts she’d already done. COVID had a huge effect on millions of people and their mental health as well. Home workouts became a great way for everyone to help ease the anxieties that they had because of all the uncertainty around the world. I noticed that AI innovation was emerging within the health space, and I wanted to push that and take it further, without the need for expensive and bulky equipment.
How do you think this might change the world?
This technology does have the power to change the world. Using computer vision, AI, and results analysis, our apps make wellness more accessible at a grassroots level. Users will be able to monitor their progress and adjust their training in ways that they’ve never been able to before. Health and fitness won’t just be for the wealthy anymore — it will be for everyone. GOFA International is here to disrupt the industry in a way that’s never been done before. We offer fitness solutions that are so simple, they don’t even need equipment. Yet they are effective and personalized through the use of our proprietary AI technology.
Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Not at all. If used in a positive way, our technology will inspire people to live healthier lifestyles and can be used as a tool to help them reach their goals.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
I think the first thing that one needs to establish in order to create technology that will have a positive social impact is a strong team. Great products are always built by an equally great team of people that share and trust your vision, and work hard to execute that vision.
Another big contributor to success is purpose. Sometimes, simply having a goal is not enough — you need to find your purpose for doing something. For me, the moment I realized this was when I was mentoring a product design competition for the YMCA. The kids I was mentoring were about 16 years old, and they won the competition! After that, I knew that giving back and making a positive impact is something that I would love to do for the rest of my life.
Fundraising is also an important part of making positive social change. If you want your efforts to work on a larger scale, fundraising is important. Building the right team won’t come cheap.
You also need to be resilient. There will always be negativity around you, but you can’t let it impact your goals. If something doesn’t go according to plan, brush it off and get back in the game.
Finally, a strong understanding of your target market is a huge advantage to anyone in any industry. Not everything will go exactly the way you want it to, so you need to be flexible and keep your eyes open for the next step that will bring you closer to your goals. You need to listen to and identify the needs of your users, and welcome feedback from them. This gives you the ability to pivot and change things up as and when you need to, which will keep your business properly geared towards its intended market.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I’d let them know that fulfillment really comes from giving to and serving others. You learn a lot more about yourself and about the world in the process. True happiness comes from growing. The more you give, the more you grow, and the happier you become.
All my business ventures have one thing in common: they all put people first. With people at the center of everything you do, your product is bound to be one that appeals to your users on a large scale.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I’d love to have lunch with Tony Robbins. I’ve listened to his audio, and he is one of my favorite life coaches. I listened to him back when times were tough, and I still do now, to this day.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow and reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’d love to connect with users who are keen to share their ideas and feedback.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.