Luke Brown is an experienced entrepreneur who launched several successful brands in real estate, media and consumer goods. With one profitable exit of his own, he has over 18 years of experience in business strategy and bootstrapping product launches and start- ups. He created Fitness Hardware to create challenging equipment and programs for athletes, trainers and the home workout community based on the leading trends in exercise science.
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve been passionate about fitness and general health since high school. As an athlete in high school and college I spent a lot of time training and a ton of time using fitness equipment. About 5 years ago, I saw a real opportunity in the market to develop a platform that can be used on the hands or the feet – really a push up platform but with exponentially more functionality to really load the muscles and challenge even the best athletes. The concept for ABLE (Advanced Bodyweight Leverage Equipment) was born. I worked on prototypes, and bootstrapped the marketing, product development and start-up process, investing here and there to get the concept and brand to a place where we had solid interest, a great product and a proven design. We named the company Fitness Hardware – with the intent of developing more products in the fitness and wellness space in the coming months.
Any emerging industry trends?
2 years ago I attended a leading fitness industry trade show – the show magazine published a great article that referenced bodyweight leverage equipment as the top trend in fitness products and training methodologies. I knew I was on the right track with ABLE. So many designs in this space have limited functionality, require set-up or are just simply designed poorly. I decided to double my efforts to make a superior product and try my best to disrupt the entire fitness space.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
A major challenge to developing a product in the fitness space is just the perception of the industry as a whole. I had meetings with investors and couldn’t even get past the introductions – people just see the space as gimmicky – full of infomercials and just not as sexy as other tech opportunities. My plan changed slightly – as I was already determined to bootstrap the launch of the hardware. But, I embraced the development of a web App earlier than I had planned – and that has been a huge selling point as we go into production for our hardware. Users can get on our website, filter workouts by muscle group or by skill level to find moves / design workouts to meet their goals. The combination of truly revolutionary hardware and a FREE and simple to use method for following challenging moves has been very well received in our focus groups.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I’ve been entrepreneurial since graduating from college – in fact, I sold a company I started in college after about 7 years of successful operations. I guess I’ve been looking for another opportunity to start something disruptive ever since. So, my motivation and inspiration has been to get back to something that I had at one time in the past – to launch and lead a well performing business built on a culture of creativity and personal growth – it doesn’t hurt that our product is truly revolutionary as well! Our Vision is to start with the launch of our first product, ABLE – and follow that with 2 more products in the first year to build a more a little more product diversification into our brand.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We launch ABLE on Kickstarter on Tuesday, May 23! The past 6 months has been completely dedicated to completing designs, quoting and developing enough of a brand following to ensure we have pent up demand for our go – live event. It’s working – as we have not just the usual friends and family lining up for early donations on Kickstarter. I’ve been contacted by gym owners, trainers and fitness enthusiasts everywhere with interest for our product.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
We have two key initiative in the short term to drive success for ABLE and Fitness Hardware. First, is the successful launch of our ABLE product on Kickstarter. Once we reach our goal – the challenge will be marketing. Our second initiative will be to gain market share and get exposure from all over the world to establish ABLE as a new standard for simple, portable and effective bodyweight training.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
At one point I had come to terms with a potential investor – from Vancouver, BC. But after 4 months of negotiations and meetings, this person pulled out of the deal. The decision wasn’t based on anything material to the business – it was actually because this person was losing their US business partner who they felt was critical in overseeing the deal. They parted ways, and my deal with one of the partners became a casualty to their relationship terminating. It was a huge learning experience and made me try harder than ever to bring the product to market without an investor backing me.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
It may sound funny to say, but I really hope ABLE changes people’s lives. I want to read stories about people losing weight and getting into the best shape of their lives with our product. I started the business because of my passion for fitness, but helping people get and stay healthy is how we are going to grow and become a household brand.
How do you motivate others?
I motivate others by joining them. I love nothing more than to roll up my sleeves and tackle the problem of the day with my team. The best decisions are made by teams – not individuals, so every chance I get to participate in a team discussion is an opportunity for us all to learn something and make a better decision.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Choose an industry that you’re passionate about. My first business grew out of a personal passion for the outdoors, and now I’m pursuing Fitness because it’s another huge interest of mine. Not only will you enjoy your work more, but you’ll be better at your job, have a better frame of reference and move up faster. It’s like the old saying “if you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life”.