Americans want to sit less, drink less, and exercise more. This macro trend has led to the explosion of people looking to eat more balanced meals and lead more physically active lifestyles. As the trend grows and expands, it has led to some very innovative startups including one in particular; Mirror, an at-home fitness platform that recently sold for $500 million in cash to the athleisure company Lululemon.
The true story behind this incredible success story lies in the details. Inc Founders Project recently sat down with Brynn Putnam, the founder of the Refine Method, a high intensity interval training method, and Mirror. Brynn has a very powerful and unique story. She’s a Harvard educated former dancer with the New York City Ballet. She worked in some of NYC's top gyms and boutique fitness studios, but found that despite logging many hard workout hours each week, her clients weren't getting the results they wanted. Her story of how she became an entrepreneur behind one of the most innovative startups in the fitness world is a prime example of utilizing customer feedback and listening to macro trends to drive decision making for her startup.
To understand her story better, we highly recommend all readers take a moment to listen to the podcast during which Brynn reveals the genesis behind her innovative hardware and software startup called Mirror. She says she “found herself pregnant and struggling to get to my own gym to workout. Didn’t want a bike or tread, found the screens currently in use.” Her inability to find the time and access to the equipment drove her to think about the struggle and how she might be able to innovate a new solution.
She notes in the podcast that in the past they “had put regular mirrors into the Refine studios and the client feedback was that it was the best thing that we had done. It gave them assessment on their form and it was an integral part of their experience.” Using this feedback, and a rudimentary setup with a Raspberry Pi and a mirror, she built her first prototype in her kitchen and knew she was onto something. Essentially, it is a mirror but with video behind the glass.
One other form of customer feedback that Brynn captured was watching children dance in her Refine studio in front of the mirrors. She saw that as an opportunity as well. Mirror has “seen the number of users under 20 grow about 5x during the COVID months as young adults have returned home to be with their families or teenagers have started doing remote schooling.” Essentially, Mirror has taken the “screen time” that parents dread and turned it into a physically interactive opportunity for the children.
Brynn took her prototype idea, and made it a reality. She expanded this consumer experience for thousands of households across the country until she recently sold it to Lululemon.
Many companies wish to achieve similar results. Taking the time to listen to your customers and gather their feedback is the way to make better decisions for your brand and your product. Do you ask your customer about their favorite part of the experience with your brand? How often do you ask your customers about new features or new products? How many ideas are you currently unaware of simply because you never took the small step that Brynn took - asking her clients about their experience? Taking the time to listen, and then implement change, is a critical first step to making better product and brand decisions.