Just two years ago Aileen Lee introduced for better or worse the so-called unicorn creature in startup land. But in the for many fairytale that is startup life other creatures dwell as well. This summer we witnessed such a rare creature in its most extreme form. Fitbit, the wearable fitness startup that IPOed in June turned out to be a super dragon. Unlike the paper-valued unicorns Fitbit returned it’s largest investor, Brad Feld’s, Foundary Group, more than $1 billion. Multiple times Foundry’s original 2010 investment that came from their $240 million fund.
The story of Fitbit explains why the fitness sector is such a crowded market. It’s returns can be as a matter of fact mind-blowing. It’s this large horizontal market that Steijn Pelle, co-founder and COO of the startup Fitmo is targeting. Talking about Fitmo and the larger healthtech space Pelle argues in this episode of HitEnter that if we want to make real progress in healthcare there has to be room for experimentation and failure.
Moreover, governmental organizations like StartupDelta should support ‘initiatives like Rockstart Health and help to change the cultural mindset that even in healthcare we should try things’ not hampered by the fear of failure, says Pelle. People should not be afraid to act on improving a field that is ripe for innovation just because things can go wrong. A field where the societal benefits of innovation are extremely large.
Humans instead of algorithms
Founded in 2014, Fitmo believes in the power of the personal coach, it has built a marketplace where people are matched with their personal trainers. Pelle: “The philosophy behind Fitmo is that it’s not an algorithm that’s going to help you to change your behavior in a positive and healthy way. We think it’s another human being that helps you to do that.”
The startup has raised a relatively large seed round €1.2 million for Dutch standards and attracted a number of high profile industry veterans as investors and advisors. Such as Peter Driessen of Spilgames and Arthur van Hoff of Jaunt, that recently topped the $100 million mark in funding, making it the highest funded VR startup. Pelle says in the interview that Fitmo aims to raise its Series A the coming period and expand internationally.
Corporates: don’t fuck up startup culture
Pelle also has an advice for corporate companies that are clinging to startups to foster innovation. Paraphrasing Peter Thiel corporates should be wary of ‘fucking up startup culture’, says Pelle. The way corporates function is so different compared to how startups operate and thrive that they even shouldn’t try to emulate them. Pelle: “I would recommend a corporate to not start a startup, also not invest early stage in startup, probably even not acquire a startup, but participate in a later round to help a startup scale internationally.”