Ever have an idea?
Most of us have had a conversation at dinner, or by the water cooler, about an idea someone has or has had. Something that would work. Something that would be successful. Something that hasn’t been done before. Then the conversation fades away as we come back to reality, and the idea becomes forgotten.
Occasionally I will have a conversation with someone who has a opinion as to how they would do it "better" and I have always been fascinated by those exchanges. My genuine schoolboy curiosity eggs me on to find out why people that have an idea, don't capitalize on it.
I understand that turning an idea into reality isn’t easy. First you need to identify a specific problem and develop a solution to said problem. Then you develop a plan. I’m not an expert, but I would like to think that to get from A to B probably requires two very important things: hard work and patience.
This week, I reached out to a new fitness startup, Engledoes, who are in their beginning product development stages. I was genuinely curious about what the process is like, when turning an idea into a reality.
One of their products is the Rack-it Bracket, which is designed to protect a user’s shoulders when performing a decline press with dumbbells on a weight bench, among other things. They were kind enough to let me try their prototype myself, and I was very impressed with their design. It attaches to most weight benches and is strong enough to hold up in a high-use, commercial environment.
I sat down with Dustin and Jayson to pick their brains about what it takes to make something like the Rack-it Bracket, and they were kind enough to open up to me about it.
Bryan Shutts (BS): What's your background? Tell me a little about yourself and what got you here.
Dustin Engle (DE): Jayson Noll and I attended college together and now work together at a local automation company. Jayson is an avid computer gamer and self-proclaimed nerd. Jayson’s father instilled in him a “we can build anything” attitude. I enjoy power-lifting and maintaining membership in the 1000 lb. club. I personally struggled to complete decline bench press and achieve squat depth.
BS: Why the fitness industry?
DE: Our mission is to solve problems and prevent injury. The fitness industry offers opportunities to fulfill our mission. As a team, we noticed opportunities and problems that we could solve by pairing our strengths.
BS: Talk to me about what it's like to be an innovator/inventor in the fitness industry.
DE: Being considered an innovator in the fitness industry is a tremendous honor and holding a patent is a childhood dream come true. We have particularly enjoyed collaborating with and getting feedback from local shops like G&G Fitness Equipment.
Jayson Noll (JN): Working on this project with Dustin was one of the most exciting protects of my life, it gave me a chance to use my resources to make and refine a product that can impact the world and make a difference. Right away we met people that could benefit from our device.
BS: There are a lot of products in the past that have crashed-and burned. Some are downright laughable. Why do you think these products failed miserably? And what makes a successful product?
DE: I think some fitness products fail because of the intent of the team behind the product. The core values and mission of the development team is critical. Other fitness products fail because of a combination of an accelerated development cycle and lack of “pretotyping”. Pretotyping is the process of building pretotypes to test the viability of a product before attempting to prototype it. A pretotype that proves to solve problems and prevent injury will have better odds at evolving into a successful product.
BS: How did the idea come about to build the Rack-It Bracket?
DE: After four years of attempting the exercise, I noticed that I needed to significantly reduce the attempted weight to prevent injury or I needed ask a spotter to hand me the weight while I was positioned on the bench.
BS: What's the planning and building processes like? Take me through it all, step-by-step.
JN: We talked about the problem and the idea for solving the problem. Next, we built a simple pretotype from simple sketches to see if it fulfilled the idea and solved the potential problems. After that, we refined and tested it at the gym with various gym members. The pretotype was used to add as many improvements as possible with consideration for field testing.
BS: Who does the Rack-It Bracket benefit (who are its targeted users)?
DE: The targeted users for Rack-It Bracket are people that prefer to complete decline bench for a chest press or abdominal exercise. The user may have had a previous shoulder injury, or the user may prefer to exercise when the gym is less busy.
BS: What kind of feedback are you getting from your v1 and v2 prototypes?
JN: We had a lot of good feedback from the creation of V1, all the feedback went into V2 and people liked it even more. The “cup holder” design inspiration was the biggest improvement from V1 to V2.
BS: What are both your short-term and long-term goals with Engledoes?
DE: Our short-term goal is to develop relationships within the fitness community at the local level. We understand the importance of local support for the brand and product. Our long-term goal is to develop partnerships in the fitness equipment industry and leverage existing distribution networks for sustained product awareness.
BS: Anything else you would like to add?
JN: I look at every experience as a tool to learn from good and bad, and I have learned a ton from this experience.
When Engledoes launches preorders, they have graciously offered to give an exclusive discount to G&G Fitness Equipment Customers. Subscribe to our newsletter below, and follow both G&G Fitness and Engledoes on Facebook for continuous updates, and to be part of their journey.