The pressure isn’t letting up for OYO Fitness. With nearly $1 million in sales via crowdfunding already banked, the Kansas City-based fitness firm hopes to add more muscle to its brand by expanding into Asia.
After previous success on U.S.-based Kickstarter and Indiegogo, OYO (On Your Own) Fitness launched its collapsible, portable gym product last week on Backer Finder, a Taiwanese crowdfunding platform. The firm plans to launch its device on a Japanese crowdfunding site later this month.
Although crowdfunding might be a pain, CEO of OYO Fitness Paul Francis said, it currently is the right choice to drive sales.
“For crowdfunding, you have to cover all your bases to be successful with any product,” Francis said. “You have to have great content, videos, photographs and tell a good story. You have to market it on social media and run Facebook ads to drive customers to your crowdfunding site.”
In February, OYO Fitness’ DoubleFlex Black portable gym became the second highest funded Kickstarter fitness product in history, with more than $700,000 raised. In addition, the campaign is currently placed in the top 99.9 percent of all products on Kickstarter, which is the world’s leading crowdfunding platform.
OYO Fitness also raised $230,000 via Indiegogo, another popular entrepreneurial crowdfunding site.
“This means that the product obviously has great demand,” Francis said. “So, based on that, we’re ramping up for a big launch for the general public.”
Excited for the firm’s international expansion, Francis said, the Asian market is a good fit for OYO Fitness.
“Our Japanese distributor, Oaklawn Marketing, is very successful with fitness products. They sell millions of units a year direct to the public in Japan,” Francis said. “The Japanese people live in very small places, so they don’t have enough space for a home gym, weights, a treadmill or anything. They’re looking for a small, portable exercise device with a good design and technology.”
In November, OYO Fitness plans to supply the more than 5,500 initial backers who already preordered the DoubleFlex Black device with the product. In December, the firm is expected to launch the DoubleFlex Black, as well as the DoubleFlex Black Pro, to the general public. Both are set to be offered through the OYO Fitness website, Amazon, and TV infomercials.
Francis doesn’t expect retail to be a high priority in the near future, he said.
“We’re going to build this brand: On Your Own Fitness,” Francis said. “We’d like to have a presence and start to build a brand in an international marketplace, and then we’re going to be launching new products.”
The firm is currently negotiating with distributors in Europe, Brazil and Korea, he said. In 2018, OYO Fitness plans to launch two new products: a complete home gym and an indoor bike.
Invented by Francis himself, all OYO Fitness products use patented “SpiraFlex” resistance technology, which he designed to keep NASA astronauts in shape while on the International Space Station. The tech has been used by more than 50 crewmembers on the space station, he said.
Resembling a bendable, futuristic bow with a center wheel to create resistance, the DoubleFlex features some impressive technology that enables dozens of exercises arm, leg and core exercises.
Francis said the DoubleFlex allows for more than 75 total exercises.
“People find themselves without a lot of time and under a lot of pressure. If they have a personal exercise device, they can literally work out wherever they are at any time,” he said. “The DoubleFlex can fold up and fit in your pocket, in a small travel bag or in your desk drawer at work.”
The device — about the size of a loaf of bread when compact — creates resistance similar to a cable machine via the fitness firm’s technology. It uses coiled rubber-band-like straps within a removable wheel that are then snapped into the center of the bow. Each wheel creates 5 to 10 pounds of resistance, but weighs only a few ounces, enabling the device to have a low profile and be lightweight.
Although the firm has gained traction with crowdfunding backers, it has yet to raise any venture capital. Francis said the firm is gearing up to raise its first round of $1 million.
Francis is currently in talks with local angel investors and venture capital firms, he said.
“We feel pretty confident that we can reach our funding goal fairly quickly,” Francis said. “Because of the sales success, our intellectual property and the pipeline of new products coming online over the next two to three years.”
A 62-year-old inventor who studied architecture at the University of Kansas, Francis launched OYO in 2014 and has largely bootstrapped the firm since. Now the firm’s products are sold across the world on QVC, in Brookstone stores, Sharper Image, Amazon and dozens of catalogs, Francis said.
The company’s DoubleFlex device also was featured on an episode of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Musician Boy George, basketball hall-of-famer Lisa Leslie and former “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” expert Carson Kressley each helped sell on behalf of OYO Fitness.
Although its Kickstarter campaign is closed, the DoubleFlex Black remains available for preorder on Indiegogo.