Interview with Ryan Eder, Founder and COO of IncludeFitness.
How did you get the idea?
In 2003, I was a student at UC studying industrial design through the DAAP program and witnessed a man in a wheelchair relentlessly struggle on a piece of fitness equipment. I noticed he had a bag full of homemade accessories attached to his chair just to help him adapt to the equipment. This didn’t seem right and inspired some research. I quickly uncovered a tremendous gap and need in the market. It was also apparent that it wasn’t just wheelchair users suffering from this. Seniors, veterans, people with a variety of limitations and fitness enthusiasts alike were all suffering from a lack of an accessible, intuitive, independent means to health and wellness. So that became the mission. In 2006, I decided to tackle this problem as my senior thesis and developed the concept for our first product, The Access – an inclusive piece of strength training equipment. Six months after graduation the concept was recognized with a Gold Award, Best in Show, and People’s Choice in the International Design Excellence Awards competition hosted by BusinessWeek Magazine. (For context, the following year Apple won Best in Show for the iPhone.) This provided tremendous exposure to the idea and the opportunity to ultimately turn it into IncludeFitness.
How does IncludeFitness work?
We provide a next generation fitness/rehabilitation platform accessible to everyone regardless of size, shape, age, mobility or fitness levels. Our patented, inclusive equipment is coupled with a proprietary cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) digital health IT platform that stores both individual and aggregate user data for monitoring, analytics, export, reporting and numerous other purposes. This enables a variety of transformative applications for healthcare, insurance and personalized health markets such as tele-management, outcome/performance based reporting, fraud protection, and significant efficiency and patient throughput gains.
What does your ideal customer look like?
We have a lot of customers that have expressed interest in our system ranging from rehabilitation and physical therapy providers, hospitals, senior care facilities, veteran’s and government facilities, fitness centers, universities, hospitality and more. We have gone through considerable lengths to develop a system that can be utilized and relevant in so many markets and we can’t wait to get it to them!
What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Developing a seamless ecosystem of mechanical equipment and state-of-the-art software is not an easy task. It takes years of iteration and revisions to get it just right. We have been in various stages of development since 2006 involving extensive research, collaboration, prototypes, market validation, testing, and rework. Through that intense effort and learning process, we just recently have been able to polish all the mechanical and technical hurdles to deliver this next-generation platform that we believe will transform markets and lives.
What are your next milestones?
We are now transitioning to our Alpha production phase with the goal of sending units out into our various markets for real-world testing and feedback. From there, we will make any final adjustments needed and prepare for full commercial launch.