Aiming to solve the home fitness problems of space, motivation and support, Eggplant Technologies have developed a smart home gym that converges clever equipment, design and connectivity.
Called Move It, it is interchangeable exercise equipment designed to be used by those who live in or who are restricted by small spaces. Move It consists of four parts that covers cardio and muscle training: an ab wheel, a jump rope, push up stands and a resistance band. The equipment has sensors to track motion and connects to a mobile app to give users real-time feedback and a record of their data to track their growth and improvement.
After a highly successful Indiegogo campaign in 2016, Move It was launched in March 2017 and currently has over 12,000 users.
The company’s chief operating officer and co-founder Oscar Wong spoke to Bullpen from his base in China.
Bullpen: What did you learn from participating in the HYPE Spin Lab?
Oscar Wong: “It’s a unique experience globally, it’s very focused on sports tech whereas a lot of similar programs, even in my region, tend to be general tech and startup focused.
“I fortunately got some really good connections with other startup businesses in sports tech. It’s allowed me to have ongoing conversations with companies in the Spin Lab, and we’re talking about collaboration in terms of products, sales and marketing. Also, I was glad to be of value to other companies because some of them were based out of Australia and I’m helping them to line up manufacturers or suppliers here in China. In return I’m getting lined up with sales and marketing opportunities in Australia. It works very well both ways.”
BP: What is the problem with exercise and gym equipment that you’re solving with Move It?
OW: “The way we look at it is our mission is to try and help more people build fitness into their daily lives. We want Move It to be in every household.
“We’re targeting the home use, exercise equipment market. With traditional, home use equipment there are two problems, one is that they get bought and used a few times, get put away and never see daylight again. It lacks the interactive and social element as if they were going to a gym. Secondly, a lot of people who buy (home equipment) tends to be beginners or people who haven’t gotten into a regular pattern of exercise. Some of these people are not sure how to use gym equipment, or they use it incorrectly or get bored quicker.
“I look at Move It as ‘home fitness equipment 2.0.’ So 1.0 is traditional equipment and 2.0 is connected. There are sensors in the equipment so it gives users real-time feedback on their movement, calories burnt, which muscle groups they are training and if their form is correct. Our app collates all of that. It also helps users know what exercises to do, programs to follow each day, offer instructions and video guides on different exercises. We will continue to evolve by adding different programmes, methods and exercises to the platform.
“We’re not focused on targeting the committed gym users, we are more targeting the beginners up to the intermediate. Most of our users are starting their journey on getting fitter and healthier but they’re not sure about joining a gym. We also target people who have put exercise to one side as they’re busy with important work and family commitments but they want something convenient.”
BP: Move It seems geared towards people living in apartments and small spaces as well.
OW: “We deliberately designed the product so it can be used in a three by three metre space. It means we do sell well in metro areas, major cities in China, Hong Kong, Japan, the United States. A majority of people in these cities are living in dense areas, you would imagine that they lack the space to exercise as well.”
BP: What are the demographics of current Move It users?
OW: “Based on sales data, our demographics sit between the ages of 25 to 45 and male users make up 70 percent of that.
“It’s probably because the design of the product is more masculine at the moment. Looking at the rest of the year we’re going to look at that and come up with products that appear more neutral and focus on addressing the female market.”
BP: You say new products, are you extending your company’s product line?
OW: “We’ve been hearing from our users, a lot of them when they do certain exercises day in and day out they get bored and are looking for variety. Our strategy is to develop more equipment for the home, for example, the next product we’re releasing is a smart dumbbell.”
BP: While you’re generating sales in China, Hong Kong, Japan, what other markets has there been uptake of Move It products?
OW: “We’re not a purely Chinese company but we do we get that impression as it’s our home turf. In fact we have partners and distributors in the United States, Europe, Thailand, Mexico and we’re always open to cooperation with new partners.
“We actually launched our previous product first on Indiegogo in the United States, it was oversubscribed to our funding goal by over 300 percent.”
BP: What difficulties are there establishing your products, such as Move It, outside of your ‘stronger’ markets?
OW: “The main problem is localisation of our platform. Right now we support English, Chinese and Japanese as the main languages and we’re going to release a French version and we’re working on a German version. This is all based on requests from our partners.
“It’s not only a piece of hardware it’s connected exercise equipment with an app therefore the bigger challenge for us is quality translations and sensitive localisation to specific markets we target.”
BP: The co-founder of Xiaomi, KK Wong, is on your board. What have you learnt from him or the company?
OW: “Xiaomi is a very successful, global business launching innovative IoT hardware products, their e-store has an enormous range of products. That translates to them having a very deep understanding of consumers.
“What we can learn from KK is how do we bring out IoT hardware? How do we speed up the development cycle? The fastest we can achieve a launch of IoT hardware is eight months. Also we learn things such as defining the features and price point, and putting in a supply chain to support the growth of the product.
“The other thing that Xiaomi brings in as a strategic investor is we can leverage their sales channel in China. From there we can focus on putting maximum effort on customer pleasing products. It also gives us confidence of the sales channel that if we bring out quality products, at the right price point it will sell on the platform.”
BP: And finally, do you have any firm plans to target the Australian and New Zealand market?
OW: “We don’t pretend to know those markets so we have had conversations due to the connections we made out of the Spin Lab and our presence at trade shows. We’re talking with partners that could help us establish our presence in Australia and New Zealand.
“I think the Australian market is a mature market and a lot of people are health conscious, you’re lucky to have a very nice environment and parks to exercise in. As it’s a mature market the genes are there, if we can find a strong partner to help us distribute and market our products I think it can be a good market for us.”