Aussie SportsTech scale-up Strength By Numbers creates digital tools so wellness and fitness professionals can evaluate strength and movement performance effectively.
More than 60,000 Australians have had their strength and mobility assessed with Strength By Numbers’ user-friendly technology – and this number continues to grow rapidly. The business is now looking to expand its global footprint to the UK, European Union and the US.
Strength by Numbers initially undertook a ‘family and friends’ investment round in 2018 and then received an Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Project Grant in 2021. In 2020, Strength By Numbers was selected as a start-up in the eighth cohort of the Australian Sports Technologies Network Startup Accelerator Program, a four-month program designed for high-potential SportsTech start-ups, to help them accelerate their business, advance commercial growth and become investment-ready. The program helped take Strength By Numbers to new heights and it has since closed venture funding from Skalata Ventures.
I spoke with two of the venture’s co-founders – Andrew Lemon, an osteopath who had spent much of his career assessing injuries and body movement, and Jordan Thurgood who has several years’ experience in technology and research – about the ethos behind the business and the key factors in its growth.
ISB: What was the inspiration behind the launch of Strength By Numbers, and when and where did the business launch?
Andrew Lemon: My career was as an osteopath who had also spent many years running education courses training people in the importance of quantifying assessments they performed. In 2016, my co-founders and I were discussing the benefits of digital strength and movement assessment technologies and questioning why the innovations were so underused for general populations.
We saw an untapped opportunity for sport, wellness and fitness professionals to use the incredible benefits of performance measurement technology. We put our heads together and set out to give professionals and their clients actionable insights delivered in an easy-to-use, intuitive user-interface. From this early work, we developed the AxIT System, which we originally launched to only a handful of local businesses in Melbourne. The feedback was incredible, so that provided a lot of motivation that we were onto something.
ISB: How in practice does Strength By Numbers provide a solution to the issue it was launched to address?
AL: Measuring strength and movement performance is useful for almost anyone – from coaches who are assessing athletes and wellness professionals who need to improve client outcomes, to weekend warriors looking to improve strength and power.
Strength By Numbers offers a suite of products known as the AxIT System, which provides powerful and intuitive assessment technology that is easy to use and comprehensive for the purposes of measuring performance and recovery. The three main products are Push-IT, Pull-IT and Stomp-IT. Push-IT is a smart dynamometer designed to be a go-to isolated strength assessment tool. Pull-IT is a versatile device that is smaller than your phone and can measure up to 150kg of tension force. Stomp-IT comprises the world’s thinnest smart force plates. Placed on the ground, they allow you to perform single and double-limb performance assessments across both the lower and upper body.
‘‘We saw an untapped opportunity for sport, wellness and fitness professionals to use the incredible benefits of performance measurement technology.’’
Whether someone has goals of improving their strength or returning to sport after a break or injury, AxIT will give them the ability to accurately measure, monitor and analyse their muscular function. This tool is also valuable to professionals, as it enables them to make the best decisions to optimise their clients’ training and management plans. People routinely fail because if they can’t see improvements, they lose motivation. The AxIT System tracks their progress, which helps individuals stay accountable and motivated.
ISB: What role have ‘friends and family’ investment, grants and venture capital played in the growth of the business?
Jordan Thurgood: We initially undertook a ‘family and friends’ investment round in 2018, and then received an Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Project Grant in 2021 for Australian Manufacturers who were seeking advancement, competitiveness and growth.
We’ve since closed venture funding from Skalata Ventures, which has helped us grow the team and accelerate our expansion plans.
It has been fantastic to have support from groups like this, which have added real value to what we are trying to achieve, on our journey to help all the people we are trying to assist.
ISB: And how has your involvement with the ASTN Startup Accelerator Program changed the way you have gone about things?
JT: In 2020, we were selected for the ASTN Startup Accelerator Program. The program helped take Strength By Numbers to new heights. It has been incredibly valuable to tap into ASTN’s expertise. The organisation has a deep knowledge of the SportsTech industry, as well as networks with which to connect. Participating in the Accelerator Program helped us stop, pull our heads up and evaluate where we were. We’ve been asked all the right commercial questions to make us take a good look in the mirror and think differently, and globally.
ASTN supports high-potential Australian SportsTech start-ups by providing knowledge, connections and strategies that equip them to compete on a global scale. Craig Hill, ASTN’s SportsTech Start-up Adviser and Industry Analyst, said of our inclusion in their program, ‘We saw the market opportunity that Strength By Numbers were addressing,’ in that strength and movement assessment technologies were starting to move beyond the elite sports environment and into physio clinics and other allied health applications. We were also impressed by the SBN founder team, which brought clinical, product design, software and commercialisation expertise to the business.’
ISB: What have been the biggest challenges in managing the business’ rapid growth, and how have you met them?
JT: It’s been a really challenging few years recently, with COVID, computer chip shortages, supply-chain issues and all sorts of major global events occurring in close succession. I think we have been fortunate in some senses that we have a positive impact on our customers and their clients. We drive value for our customers, so we have been able to weather some challenges perhaps better than others. However, there are always challenges as the company grows through each phase, whether it be finding the right talent, attracting the right funding or any of the many other challenges of running a small business.
ISB: How do you see Strength By Numbers growing and developing in the next couple of years?
AL: We are seeing an acceleration in the adoption of technology and digital tools in the wellness and fitness industries. With digital-based products like smartwatches and fitness bands becoming more mainstream, we’re seeing the barriers to adoption coming down.
We continue to broaden the brand with penetration of the Australian professional wellness and fitness markets and are now looking to expand our global footprint to the UK, EU, and US. Innovative product development will also enable new market opportunities in the coming period that will allow Strength By Numbers to tap into a new and larger customer base.
This article first appeared in issue 42 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine