Six weeks into 2018 and we’ve reached that time of year when health and fitness resolutions start to crumble. Reasons vary, but the most common one is a perceived lack of progress. Without noticeable results, people tend to lose motivation.
But what if there’s a way to increase feedback and track progress more precisely? Will this encourage people to stay the course? Ed Sclater, COO of Naked Labs and co-founder of Naked, the world’s first home body scanner, thinks so.
“Today’s products often focus on what we do to our bodies, whether it’s how many calories we eat, how many steps we walk, or how many workouts we get in,” says Sclater, a 2014 graduate of the Multidisciplinary MBA + MS Design Innovation program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Very few products are focused on closing that fitness feedback loop and showing you exactly how your body is changing. That’s what Naked is all about.”
HEALTH AND FITNESS JUST GOT A LOT MORE HIGH TECH
Naked is a Wifi/Bluetooth-equipped scale-and-mirror combo that scans your body, turns it into 3D magic, and gives you an intricate, visual representation of how it’s changing over time in such areas as volumetric body fat percentage, weight, and other body measurements.
What appears to be your standard full-length home mirror is actually equipped with infrared lighting to scan your body. As the accompanying turntable-like scale rotates you in a full circle, processors in the mirror capture 3D images at 30 frames per second to produce a custom 3D body model. Naked uses its own proprietary algorithms to calculate body fat percentage and measurements, then creates an instantaneous custom 3D body model. Results are automatically synced to a user’s Apple or Android device and made available on the Naked mobile app.
The product — a finalist for Fast Company’s 2016 Innovation by Design Awards representing the best in product design — is the brainchild of CEO Farhad Farahbakhshian. A former fitness instructor, Farahbakhshian says he would see the rush of excited new gym-goers each January, but by the end of the month there’d be a dramatic drop-off as people became discouraged from slow progress.
“He knew they were putting in the work and their bodies must be changing, but the traditional metrics, like weight, were not reflecting that,” Sclater tells Poets&Quants. “Farhad wanted to develop a product to help people visualize their fitness progress faster than anything so that they could stay motivated, and that’s when the idea for Naked was born.”
TRANSFORMING FITNESS TRACKING
Naked Labs was founded in February 2015. Shipments to customers are on deck for this May after what the company describes as a highly successful pre-order campaign that took place in April 2016.
According to co-founder Sclater, the new space that Naked it’s carving out in the market is two-pronged. First, Naked is specifically designed for in-home use. “There are other scanners that use similar technology, like Fit3D and Styku, but they are geared towards commercial use and cost close to $10,000. Naked Labs is the body scanner designed explicitly for consumer use in the home.”
Secondly, it’s about providing a more detailed portrait for customers. “Current metrics like weight do not provide a full picture of a person’s progress.”
The target market, Sclater says, is anyone looking to change their body, has already started that process, and seen some initial success. “This includes everyone from people on weight loss journeys, first time marathoners, and folks looking to tone up by building muscle and losing fat all the way to professional athletes and bodybuilders.”
LESSONS FROM TWO FIRST-TIME ENTREPRENEURS
For both Sclater and his co-founder Farahbakhshian, this is a first go-round at entrepreneurship. For aspiring entrepreneurs and startup founders, Sclater suggests they consider the benefits of going at it with a partner. “From seeing other startups in the Bay Area develop and grow, I believe that starting a company with two co-founders is the sweet spot. Starting a company on your own is tough and starting a company with 3+ founders can be a recipe for disaster. Additionally, you don’t know everything. You have not encountered every problem before. Therefore, it’s really important to seek multiple perspectives as you make company critical decisions.”
Likening it to B-school, Sclater says entrepreneurship is similar because you’re “always on.”
“The MBA experience is intense and you’re expected to switch between different subject areas and environments whilst continuing to deliver high quality work,” he says. “Startup life is very similar. When starting a company, you need to wear many different hats to navigate product definition, design, engineering, strategy, marketing, finance, accounting to name a few. The MBA program at Kellogg touched on all of these, giving me a strong foundation to enter the startup world.
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL … FOR $999
Since its founding in 2015, Naked Labs has seen some big wins including various rounds of investing and eight different backers. At time of publication, team members are in China where the company says it’s just completed the Design Validation Test (DVT) phase of pre-production with their contract manufacturer, Flex. “Now, only the Production Validation Test (PVT) phase remains before ramping into mass production,” Sclater reports.
In addition to taking all the steps to get ready for mass distribution, the company completed nine months of beta testing and has grown the Naked team from 14 to about 40 in a year’s time. This year, Naked’s focus shifts to new customer acquisition. Specifically, Sclater says, “To become generally available and reach new customers, and look to expand into additional markets such as gyms, custom fit, etc.”
More long-term, Sclater says, “We look forward to all the exciting possibilities enabled by this technology, including custom clothing, online fit, healthcare, VR/AR, and more. Imagine logging into Nordstrom.com and seeing exactly which clothes would fit you and in what size.”
Currently, the sticker price for Naked is $899, which includes the mirror and rotating scale. The cost is set to increase to a final retail price of $999.
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