Editor’s note: Startland News picked 10 early-stage firms to spotlight for its annual Under the Radar startups list. The following is one of 2017’s companies. To view the full list, click here.
A Kansas City startup originally established with NASA astronauts in mind continues to expand its orbit.
OYO Fitness — which stands for On Your Own Fitness — creates workout devices using resistance similar to a cable machine via the firm’s patented “SpiraFlex” technology. Founder and inventor Paul Francis designed the tech to keep NASA astronauts in shape while on the International Space Station. Fifty crew members have used the technology, Francis said.
The DoubleFlex Black — about the size of a loaf of bread when compact — 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.
OYO Fitness owes part of its early success to a popular Kickstarter campaign. With more than $700,000 raised, the firm is ranked as the second-highest-funded fitness project in the crowdfunding platform’s history. 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 also nabbed $230,000 from Indiegogo.
Earlier this summer, the company announced it expanded sales to Taiwan and Japan. OYO Fitness has achieved more than $1 million in sales this year and is projected to reach $10 million next year, Francis said.
Francis, a 62-year-old inventor who studied architecture at the University of Kansas, has largely bootstrapped the firm since its launch. OYO Fitness is gearing up to raise its first round of venture capital, aiming for $1 million.
A team of five staffers is looking to add one more to the team, specialized in digital marketing and advertising. Now the firm’s products are sold across the world on QVC, in Brookstone stores, Sharper Image, Amazon and dozens of catalogs, he said.