Elliott Perry and Matt Quinn are co-founders of Flex, an innovative and convenient way of integrating more fitness into your busy daily routine.
Hi Elliott and Matt, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
Elliott Perry: I’m a developer from the University of Sunderland with an expertise in business and computing. I initially worked in various corporate environments and found myself very unhappy and unfulfilled. I also worked at a series of firms and technology start-ups but quickly became bored of each, so decided to harness my own passion for fitness and nutrition, and eventually came up with the idea behind Flex.
Matt Quinn: I initially studied engineering at the University of Southampton before realising that it was not for me. Despite a series of different engineering and accountant jobs, I remained unhappy with my current career and desperately searched for my true calling. By chance, I met my similarly fitness-obsessed and soon-to-be cofounder Elliott. While not expecting much to come out of our initial meeting, a solid friendship was born and we both fell in love with the idea of Flex, an innovative and convenient way of integrating more fitness into your busy daily routine.
How did the idea for Flex come about?
The idea behind Flex drives us in every decision we make. It came from a simple notion, one surrounding people who wish to exercise regularly, but who are unable to fit it into their busy schedules. This was a huge problem for not only ourselves, but the majority of people we spoke too.
They were either unable to fund or find time to include a gym membership around their current lives and the at home work-outs that were on offer just didn’t give that intense workout we are all craving. Matt had a super demanding career at the time and without the exercise he needed, he gained weight and burnt out, so he tried every at home-product on the market but none of them worked and we wanted to change this.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
In the grand-scale of things, we are currently still in the early days. But we have definitely noticed a tonne of challenges that we have already had to overcome. There is a serious lack of capital for consumer companies within the UK and that meant that we have had to be precious about every penny. In turn this has meant we’ve moved at a slower pace than originally anticipated and overall made slower decisions from it.
Another challenge for us was by gaining consumers trust. They have been constantly sold lacklustre and mediocre workouts from pdfs plans, workout videos and stale workout apps which has made it really challenging to spread our message and get through to the end-consumer, but we believe in our app and know that our consumers will too once they sample it.
What is Flex? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Flex is an at home workout community powered by wearables. We stream intense, entertaining fitness content straight to you – wherever you are, and you work out while wearing a wearable device, which means you can compete with the community and against yourself based on your effort and reps in each session. We’re trying to solve the barriers that keep people from getting the workout they want. Whether that is time, money or travel.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
We’ve had some really ambitious and inspired angels from the UK, who believe in us as a team and taking on the problem. We’ve taken some funding from the US based Techstars fund, and both of us have previously sold companies so we had a little bit of personal cash to use too.
Tell me about your experience getting accepted into TechStars and how that helped your business progress especially for other entrepreneurs thinking about applying?
The capital injection has definitely been helpful, but the network and advice are second to none. On any given day we are just a phone call away from our next investor, partner, customer or vertical specific advisor. They’ve taught us to move faster, make better decisions and how to deal with and understand when something isn’t working. We would 100% recommend it to anyone who is thinking of applying.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
The first few months are always exciting while you’re still finding your feet and talking to users. Most of the first few months for us, were spent qualifying what Flex shouldn’t be, and who isn’t our customer focus - this helped us to hone down on our target market. Building the beginning of our community was super powerful, so many people bought into what we were trying to do and that really inspired us to continue.
How did you initially get traction?
Truthfully, before we built any technology, we made a little video explaining the concept and a landing page with a referral system in it. We emailed everyone we knew telling them what we were working on and they did the rest. The referrals poured in.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Deciding what we were and what we weren’t. You can never be everything to everyone. If a CEO says our product is for everyone - they’re going to struggle! Once we decided what we weren’t going to be, we could target, message and evangelise our people.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Definitely getting into Techstars and moving to Boulder, Colorado. Americans just know how to do this stuff better than us here. Our advisors are incredible, and the people here are insanely active. The scenery is also mind-blowing which is an added bonus.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Flex team for 2018?
Very big things! We’re doing something no-one else in the world is currently doing and we are excited to be at the fore-front of the industry. We will be creating an ultimate mind-blowing fitness experience for all. So, expect to start seeing our community grow day by day.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Read. We read religiously here at Flex. We know we don’t know everything and we are always one book away from a huge learning experience.
Ask for help. Being an entrepreneur does not mean that you know everything - but it should mean that you can and are open to learning everything. Ask for help from your network from day one.
Know your customer. Talk to them. We try and talk to 5 users a week. When you reach out to them -- they’ll tell you things you would have otherwise never learned. It is invaluable.