Hey everyone - Dez here from All Things Venture. It’s been a little while since we’ve done a Startup Spotlight but boy are we back. If there’s one thing that I’ve ever truly loved in my life (outside of family, my wonderful girlfriend, and my close friends) it’s been sports. When I tell you I love sports, I mean I love sports. I dedicated the first 22 years of my life to playing sports; I traveled across the country to throw a little orange ball into a little orange hoop. I ran sprints until I passed out, I strapped 300+ pounds on a squat rack and did reps until I failed, I’ve broken my nose, my ankle, had concussions (multiple of them), chipped my teeth, back spasms, you name it. All to throw a little orange ball into a little orange hoop. It seems ridiculous looking back on it, short sighted at the least, but let me tell you. If I could? I would do it all again. And I would run harder, train longer, and overall just take sports more seriously. Why? Because I (like a lot of people) think that the feeling of winning, competing, and building with your team, is one of the best damn feelings out there. The highs of sports more than outweigh the lows, and the fact that you can legitimately make a living off kicking, hitting, throwing, or shooting a ball is a hell of a lot better than sitting in front of a computer all day.
That being said, the thing about sports though, is that you have to train. No matter who you are whether you’re Lebron James, or Serena Williams, or anywhere in between. If you don’t compete, if you don’t train, at some point you will lose. There’s two sports saying that I love out there that I’m sure every athlete/former athlete remembers hearing at some point.
“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”
And, a more recent quote as of late
“Trust the process”
These two quotes in my mind, make a WORLD of difference for any athlete who understands them early in your life. The mundane, boring, repetitive aspects of training are absolutely necessary, and they can be the difference between you being paid to play a game for a living or being paid to type on a computer like the rest of us. And this brings us to today’s company - Launchpad. Launchpad is a connected fitness startup founded by Jason Abromaitis, and he’s focused on building a platform that maximizes the talent of every young athlete. Launchpad is actually Jason’s second company and as former Division 1 Basketball player at Yale, Jason understand what it takes to play at the one of the highest levels of sport. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jason about his vision for Launchpad, his perspectives on entrepreneurship, and what he thinks it takes to be a good leader. Let’s dive right in.
All Things Venture: What is Launchpad?
Jason: We’re building the first connected fitness for athletic training. And we are the only workout at-home (WOAH) platform to serve young people. We were athletes and we wish we knew then what we know now about how to train at each age. The platform consists of a specially-designed set of equipment for movement training that works with our interactive game-inpsired content that is enabled by computer vision.
All Things Venture: What led you to build Launchpad?
Jason: I’ve previously built a software business that I love (www.cor.us), but as it got to a stable and sustainable place, I realized that I wanted to do something closer to my heart. I was a fat kid who tried everything to become an athlete, and was able to play college basketball at Yale. Doug and Jalen, my cofounders of Launchpad, took different paths to athleticism, but their passion as similar to mine and we share a mission in building this company: we all want kids to be able to reach their athletic potential and get as much out of sports as they can.
All Things Venture: Who do you believe Launchpad is best positioned for?
Jason: The 13 to 18-year-old aspiring athlete who is looking to make it to the next level, whether that is varsity, being the star of their team, or playing in college. We can serve their entire family with workouts that are fun, not just a way to burn calories, but we are designed for the athlete first.
All Things Venture: What are some of the challenges that you face at the current stage for Launchpad?
Jason: The biggest challenge is just the time that it takes to develop a product with hardware, software, and content. We’ve been incredibly capital efficient and are getting to market really quickly. The other challenge is one that every business faces - resource allocation strategy has become more important to get right as we get closer to launch and need to determine how much money can be diverted from product development to promotional content and activities..
All Things Venture: What defines success for Launchpad over the next few months?
Jason: If we have taken over 200 pre-orders over the summer we’ll be off to a great start and have traction that will enable us to raise more money in the fall and continue our sales and marketing efforts.
All Things Venture: How did you all go about figuring out the carbon footprint of an online shopping order?
Jason: We aren’t shipping products yet, but there are a number of tools out there that will help us consider where we can be more efficient and responsible in our packaging and shipping decisions.
All Things Venture: What advice do you have for any aspiring entrepreneur?
Jason: You’re not alone. The biggest reason that I can’t go back to working in a big company is that in startupland people want to help (even if they aren’t actually being helpful… or if some say that they want to help reflexively without meaning). So take people up on their offers to help and put yourself out there to make connections with people who can help.
Additionally, I got three piece of advice early with my first startup that I built starting 8 years ago that have really stuck with me:
It’s never as good or as bad as it seems
The most successful founders are just too dumb to quit
If you have one, make sure your significant other is REALLY on board with what you’re doing - you’ll need them to push you when you want to give up rather than say that you should do something less stressful
That’s it for this week, sign up to learn more about Launchpad here, and don’t forget to TTP (Trust the Process)