This week we chat to Jon Gregory, founder of Vitruvian Form. As an expert who writes algorithms for financial markets, in his downtime Jon enjoyed weight training, and he developed an algorithm on weight training which has led to the creation of a smart training device – a slim-form carbon-fibre platform that can generate up to 200kg resistance. The platform incorporates technology that reads your strength capacity and tendencies, and adjusts the resistance accordingly.
ISB: What was the inspiration behind you founding Vitruvian Form?
JG: Ten years ago, I was using gym equipment and going to a personal trainer all while thinking, “there must be a better way”. With all the advancements in technology, why were we still doing things in such a rudimentary way? Why was there no device that varies force according to what you are able to handle, records your workouts so that you don’t have to, automatically progresses you to ensure you keep you training at your best, and connects you to others to help motivate and succeed together?
It sounded simple enough. Ten years later, it’s definitely not simple – but it is way more beneficial and appealing than I could have imagined, and now we are doing it!
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise off the ground?
JG: Belief. It’s one thing to have the idea that it can be done, that is, basically replacing static weight with weight that appears to magically come from nowhere, but keeping the belief and inspiring it in others with tangible proof was a challenge.
The Vitruvian device is very technical; it took a long time to get it right and working perfectly. Then on the sales front, while it is more affordable than a gym membership in the long run, the initial cost is a couple thousand. I was worried that if I put in all this time and effort in to create such a smart device that the barrier to entry may be too high to justify the cost of creating it.
However, so far the media and, more importantly, everyone who tries the device – from exercise physiologists, mums and dads, footy stars and people in rehab, to influential social-media fitness stars and – have embraced the concept.
We outsold Peloton in our pre-sales, we’re about to launch retail sales worldwide and we just secured investment. $2.5 million USD. It is very exciting
ISB: How did your background as a trader help you in your entrepreneurial journey?
JG: Trading is the purest form of commerce. You have no customers, no value proposition, no “greater good” to distract you. You just compete to make money. Compared to that, designing a product and service to compete in a marketplace where you have so many ways to differentiate and be efficient seems like a holiday.
As a trader I could apply the algorithms that I developed in that industry to the V-Form Trainer. It was during the days when trading was quiet that I was training in my home gym and crafting the idea and potential algorithms for the device.
ISB: What was your secret in promoting the service that has helped achieve record pre-sales that exceeded your expectations?
JG: If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret! The stuff that isn’t secret though is to get great people with great ideas and experience to trust them to do what they do best. We have a growth guy, PR, brand development and trainers who get the word about Vitruvian out there. I am a big believer in getting good people around you to help you grow the brand in the areas they specialise in. Then I can focus on continually refining and progressing the innovation.
ISB: What is your vision for the venture in the next couple of years?
JG: We want millions of people around the world to be connected and able to live a better physical life through engaging with the network. We are launching internationally on 24 November and have made connections with big players in the wellness, fitness and tech space, so we are moving in the right direction.
ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on this journey you’d share with others looking to start their own business?
JG: If belief is what nearly stopped me, I would say that my lesson is to trust your own judgement. By all means seek the advice of other experts in their own respective areas and if you like what they say, trust them to do their job, but trust yourself and what your vision is and then take on bits and pieces of advice as you go.