MyStrengthBook CEO Avi Silverberg shares comments on the startup’s approach:
From planning to execution, we are highly detailed in everything that we do. We try and think about the 2% of things that most people are not willing to do, and we spend the extra time, resources, or money making sure that the 2% is covered.
Location: Santiago, Chile
Product / Service Offering: SaaS platform for athletes to track and analyze training data
Co-founder Interviewed: Avi Silverberg, CEO
Other Key Management Team Members: Mike MacDonald, CFO
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
My co-founder and I were professional powerlifters. We both competed on the Canadian National Powerlifting Team, winning medals at the World Championships.
Tracking and analyzing data started by wanting to understand our own training in more detail. We started to create models using Microsoft Excel to understand how to get the most out of our training; however, Excel generated hard-to-use and clunky spreadsheets that limited the amount of analysis that could be performed. Furthermore, the raw data was complicated and not easily interpreted.
We wanted the data collected to be comprehensive and intuitive, as well as displayed in a format that could be effortlessly used to assess workouts, gauge performance, and plan for future training. We also found that we weren’t the only ones with the problem; the entire industry experienced the problem.
The only solution was to write software from the ground up, putting our sport and its athletes at the center, and accommodating for the variations of training that athletes require. When we realized that the data we could extract from our early prototypes could be used to understand sport performance in far better detail than ever before, we became motivated to commercialize the product to benefit all athletes.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
While the idea for MyStrengthBook has been conceived for a couple years, the company was officially founded in February 2016. We launched a beta version in July 2016 with the full product release in September 2016.
Based on our experience in the sporting industry, especially competing as professional athletes in powerlifting, we understand that the margin of success for wining is very small. We wanted to have a competitive advantage by seeing if there was data we could collect on workouts that allowed us to understand how we were progressing and what the next steps should be.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Athletes train to get better at their sport, but everyone responds differently to exercise. As such, learning the individual factors and variables that lead to increased performance was paramount. Athletes can use data from workouts to discover what makes up optimal training; however, there was insufficient or cumbersome ways to track and analyze training data. Most athletes record and analyze workouts using a pen-and-paper method, clunky spreadsheets, or worse, simply guess what works.
With MyStrengthBook, athletes use our platform to build workouts. We capture the training variables input from the user to calculate key metrics that assess progression and performance. These metrics are embedded throughout the platform and pushed back to the user in the form of visual data. There is no product on the market that tracks and analyzes the full suite of metrics we have designed. MyStrengthBook provides critical insight into an athlete’s training program, allowing users to understand what works and what doesn’t, and utilizing the power of data to build more effective workouts. Broadly, athletes begin to do the following:
- Know the type of training that leads to progress and regress
- Identify steps that can be implemented to break through plateaus
- Know how their body balances fatigue, recovery, and adaptation
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Unlike many other fitness tracking apps, the value to our users exists in the level of detail and multiple forms of analysis that we are offering. There is no sport performance product on the market that tracks and analyzes the full suite of workout metrics we have designed. Furthermore, our strategy is to enter various sport markets, starting with powerlifting, already launched, by building metrics for a particular sport.
Many companies fail to recognize that each sport is unique in the type of data required to enhance performance. We are building sport-specific metrics into the MyStrengthBook platform as we launch into other sport domains, essentially creating custom software products to support the specific requirements of each sport.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Neither my co-founder nor I are software guys. So, once our idea was formed, we struggled early on getting connected to people who had the talent and expertise to answer our technical questions. We started attending many local start-up events and speaking to local entrepreneurs about how to approach the development of our product, which included both cheap and financially burdensome methods.
After months of research and talking to others, we realized that the success of a software product relies on a team of people, not one, with a variety of experience in both back-end development and user-experience. Creating a team with people who are passionate about the idea who also have the skills and expertise required is a critical part of success. We started looking for a team, rather than an individual, and people who were extremely excited about bringing the idea to life.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
We are currently part of the Start-Up Chile program, a six-month global accelerator program. The program is a function of the Chilean government; they give you $35,000 equity-free to grow your business from Santiago. We are only two-weeks into our 6-month program, but so far it feels like an incredible opportunity to be connected to global entrepreneurs ready to scale their business. The program offers opportunities such as: training programs and workshops, connections to mentors and advisors, a free co-working space, various networking events, and obviously, the grant money. Start-Up Chile is the number one accelerator in Latin America. While it has a fairly competitive application process, I would highly encourage other entrepreneurs to look into the program and its benefits.
Thinking about attending an accelerator? Our Startup Accelerator Spotlight may be of assistance in selecting one that fits your needs.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We self-financed the first stage of our product, taking the project from idea to launch with no outside funding; however, once we had a strategy to scale the product, we needed the appropriate funding to achieve those goals. We raised a $150,000 seed round, in addition to receiving the Start-Up Chile grant of $35,000. We are continuously looking for other funding opportunities, including other governmental grants and accelerator programs.
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Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
In any conversation around business model or strategy we have always ask ourselves “Are we doing the right thing?” I think this perpetual self-doubt is something that every entrepreneur needs to deal with, especially in the early stages. We have learned to be extremely comfortable with making mistakes, albeit costly, and being resilient in finding solutions.
It’s important to get connected with mentors who have experience so you can learn from their insights. We are only now being connected to mentors and other start-ups who have shared similar experiences. It is much easier finding answers to unknowns when you are surrounded by people who have walked in your shoes.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
As we grow over the next six-months, we are planning to make some new hires in Chile. We recognize that there are many cultural differences in doing business in North America compared with South America. We are trying to get connected with founders who have done business in Chile to learn the “Do’s and Don’ts”.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
From planning to execution, we are highly detailed in everything that we do. We try and think about the 2% of things that most people are not willing to do, and we spend the extra time, resources, or money making sure that the 2% is covered. The margin for success in entrepreneurship is already razor thin, so if we always do more than what is required, at the end of the day, success or fail, we can say, “well, we did everything we possibly could and we have no regrets.”
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We’ve had some amazing testimonials from our users:
“MyStrengthBook is a phenomenal tool to track and analyze just about every aspect of your training. I appreciate its clean presentation and utility.”
“This product will help you gain a better understanding of your training and what factors affect your training so you can feel even more in control of your progress.”
“MyStrengthBook is an incredibly intelligently designed system that allows you to track your workouts and program accordingly based off the metrics received from those workouts. The way of the future for self-directed programming for strength sports.”
“MyStrengthBook gives detailed feedback on inputted training that allows you to adjust future training based on trends/metrics. Essentially, removes guesswork”.
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