For Korean startup, Strong Friends CEO, Sedon Hwang, his passion for fitness has become his business interest. Sedon, an accomplished bodybuilder, wants to share his fitness values with the world and hence created FAVE, a unique device that makes workout fun.
In the times of the COVID-19 outbreak, Sedon sees a great opportunity for growth for its unique ‘exergaming’ device FAVE as people are unable to exercise at gyms or outdoors.
FAVE is a unique home-fitness product which is designed based on a combination of fitness equipment and ICT. The product serves as a smart balance trainer that uses built-in motion sensor technology that allows the user to have fun while building their balance and core muscles.
Sedon Hwang talked to koreatechdesk.com about FAVE, his aspiration to make fitness reach everyone, and how it would revolutionize exercise worldwide.
1. Please tell me about your background and what motivated you to get started with your company?
I was a bodybuilder who had been exercising for 20 years. I am the 2015 Muscle Mania champion in Korea. I believe that “good exercise should be given to everyone.” There are many fitness subscription services, but the price is high. I know a much better way to exercise without expensive tuition, and I wanted to let people know about it.
2. What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the present work?
We created FAVE. You can effectively exercise at home by combining exercise equipment with built-in motion detection sensors, live fitness classes, and mobile games. It launched its first Kick starter this year and is gaining popularity.
3. What is the market opportunity for your product?
Because of the Covid 19 pandemics, people cannot exercise outside. Home fitness is a perfect way, but how can you do it well? How can I have fun working out at home? So we made FAVE.
4. What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
We have developed a motion sensor built-in exercise equipment that can exercise effectively at home. FAVE is $150, and customers who purchase our product will have the opportunity to participate in all Live Fitness classes for $7.7 per month. We have two business models: product sales and subscription services.
5. Please tell me more about your founding team.
I’m a former athlete. Korea is a place where IT talent is outstanding. I was looking for talent to develop our application and luckily found them and joined our team. I also persuaded the hardware development expert who was working at the Japanese company to join our team. We are the best team of hardware experts, software experts, and athletic experts altogether.
6. How much money have you raised in total so far?
When was the recent funding round?
We have got an investment of $250,000 so far. It was an investment in the seed stage. We are now hoping to attract investment from PRE-A or A series to expand our services to Asia.
7. What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fund-raising?
Now we want to expand our service to Asia. That’s our challenge. Asia is a growing market, and success is important to us. Especially, successful subscription service in Asia will be beneficial to us. To that end, we hope to attract investment.
8. What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
We signed a supply contract with Samsung Electronics last month. Partnering with Samsung will help our products and subscription services expand to Asia. It is also preparing for simultaneous online and offline sales through Samsung Electronics.
9. How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
It has mainly been marketing through influencer and will be done in new markets. We have an advantage in marketing through an influencer.
10.What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
It would help if you focused on what you do well. There are various marketing tools, but if you try to do everyone well, you fail. We try to concentrate our resources on what we can do well.
11.How do you plan to expand globally?
It is increasing its staff for global expansion. In particular, it is bringing in new employees with international experience. The content they create will be popular everywhere in the world. It is also securing a marketing network for local marketing.
12.How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Because of the Covid 19 pandemic, people cannot exercise outside. Home fitness is an excellent way to exercise, but few companies offer good service. We have all the superb hardware and content. We have the best technology and potential in this field.
13. What is the best advice you have received so far? And do you have any advice for someone interested in doing something similar to you?
Get a lot of inspiration from Jobs’ interviews and presentations. His words go beyond the times. The famous words he said to Scully will be of great help to other founders and me. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”
14. What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
I’m recently looking at “Startup hero,” written by Draper, a book that helps me do business and meet investors. I haven’t seen a movie lately. The most memorable film is “Steve Jobs,” starring Michael Fassbender. I remember watching it with great immersion. These books and movies have further cemented the beliefs of my life
15. How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
I start working out at 6 a.m. every day. At that time, I come up with many ideas and motivate myself.
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