Pumping up a new business
Alumnus and entrepreneur Lee Silverstone loves the gym. But he saw an opportunity to make his workout even better by bringing his handwritten exercise checklist into the digital age. Silverstone and business partner Pablo Srugo thought, why not enable gyms to provide automated workout tracking and feedback to their members using a sensor system that installs on existing gym equipment?
“The second you have an idea for a product,” Silverstone says, “go out and talk to customers.” So they quickly ran their idea past more than twenty local Ottawa gyms, and all of them were interested.
To work out their new idea, Silverstone and Srugo went to uOttawa's Startup Garage, a Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise initiative that supports student entrepreneurship in the Ottawa area and offers space, mentorship, formal training and cash to students to launch companies.
That’s where things really started to shape up ... and deep pockets started to come forward.
“Startup Garage was huge for us. It was our first outside money for the company and gave us the credibility we needed. I can honestly say that my company, Gymtrack, wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for them,” Silverstone says.
Canadian and international investors have so far invested $2.5 million in Gymtrack. Silverstone and co-CEO Srugo now have several Ottawa gyms and recreation centres as clients.