Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by LaunchKC but independently produced by Startland News.
“This is for everyone who doubted me.”
That’s a phrase Tommy Saunders has been saying to himself for years.
Saunders said it after being denied scholarship offers and earned a walk-on spot as a wide receiver for the University of Missouri. He said it when he eventually became a team captain for the Tigers and a top offensive threat.
And he recalled the same thought when he was signed by the Detroit Lions in 2009.
“FEWDM — for everyone who doubts me, is something I used to remind myself,” Saunders said. “It’s a reminder that I have to use the negativity I feel from people and turn it into a positive. A reminder that I can do anything, no matter who believes in me.”
While this mentality led Saunders to success as an athlete, his focus is no longer football. It’s now driving him and his wife, Kacie Saunders, to build a fitness tech company in the namesake of his mantra, FEWDM.
Never considering himself an entrepreneur, Saunders said he “Youtubed” his way into building the firm’s first products: the Rock360 and Omniball, which facilitate core exercises with an app.
He added that it was easy to translate the self-determination skills he learned from fitness to his business activities.
“When you’re trying to accomplish a goal — whether that’s graduating college, getting smarter, developing a relationship — there’s not a lot of times where a physical thing actually happens,” Saunders said. “With fitness, it’s empowering to see your body physically change and track your progress. It propels you forward and builds confidence.”
Although Tommy has had the idea for fitness products since 2011, his company FEWDM was born in 2013 when he paired with Kacie to accelerate its marketing.
Both of the company’s products can be used with an app, and employ a ball-bearing system that allows it to roll in any direction with limited friction. The Rock360 is an 8-pound device that operates primarily as an ab roller. The four-pound OmniBalls accommodate a user’s hands and feet, enabling a wider range of motion. Both products can be used in place of a dumbbell or medicine ball.
The duo recently won a $50,000 grant from LaunchKC, which they plan to use to expand the company’s “exer-gaming” efforts. Think “gamified” exercise like that on the Nintendo Wii.
Kacie said the LaunchKC win validated the concept of integrating motion recognition into their products.
“Before the win, this would just be an internal conversation we’ve been having,” she said. “Getting on the stage and winning was official acceptance that we were on to something. We felt accepted as a tech company, while before we were just a fitness company. Now, we’re a fitness tech company.”
The firm recently launched an app it built with Pinsight Media+ that will set the framework of the gaming technology that’s to come.
The app is available on iOS devices, and currently offers free workout regimens that Tommy designed. Users can also purchase 13 different workout packages that total more than 84 exercises . Once the motion recognition technology is in place, Tommy said that the FEWDM app will be the hub for users’ gaming activity and personal fitness data.
Kacie said seeing her husband’s dedication is inspiring. Because of him, she believes in the power fitness has to discipline the mind.
“As a society, we’ve become so much more sedentary that we ever were,” Kacie said. “It’s hard for people to wrap their minds around how much damage that does to your body. Even if you’re a fairly active person, if you sit at work 8 hours a day that does more damage than you think. If you see someone with a fit body, chances are it’s not god-given — they worked hard for that. Fitness is a way for people to learn the value of hard work.”