Sean Whalen founded his company AlterG in 2004, at the age of 23. Alter G sells an anti gravity treadmill which was originally designed for NASA astronauts but has been used mainly by top athletes.
The treadmill prototype was built by Sean’s father, a NASA research scientist, when he was 8 years old. While studying a Master’s programme in entrepreneurship, at Stanford University, Sean saw the commercial opportunity of the product and so called on a friend who knew veteran marathon runner Alberto Salazar. He thought the product was fantastic and put up $15,000 to help Sean get the product ready for market.
The company made its first sale in 2006, selling the product to the Washington Wizards, a professional basketball team. Each treadmill has a cost of $75,000, so a little more than your run of the mill treadmills! Sean managed to secure $10.5 million in venture capital after the early success of AlterG.
AlterG has also designed a low cost version of the product; well I saw low cost it’s still $24,000, but relative to its bigger brother, making available for the medical market. It is used for rehabilitation in hospitals and therapy centres and has recently won a Medical Design Excellence Award.
With projected revenues of $10million for 2010 Sean has come a long way in little time. His dad must be proud to see his son making use of his invention that sat in the garage for years.
Sean has seen the product used by many top athletes including American footballer (‘soccer’ star if you’re in America) Oguchi "Guch" Onyewu. He was so impressed that it healed his injury in time for him to make the 2010 World Cup, which seemed highly unlikely when he got injured, that he became official spokesperson for the product.
AlterG currently has around 50 employees and is growing rapidly. I wouldn’t be surprised, to see this futuristic product used by all sorts of sports stars and in numerous health centres around the country, in the near future.