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Ep. 019: On How to Launch a Fitness Equipment Company — The Tim Porth Interview

Hear Tim Porth, Co-Founder of Octane Fitness, describe his successes, joys and frustrations in building one of the most respected fitness equipment companies in the world. Learn how, in 2001, he left his previous job and overcame startup issues from investors and manufacturing partners to get a foothold in the ever-changing category of fitness equipment.

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Episode Outline:

0:45 – Introduction to Tim Porth, Co-Founder of Octane Fitness, the fitness elliptical manufacturing company.

2:41 – Start of the “Give Me the Basics” Podcast Segment

3:17 – Tim describes the original business opportunity and why he and his partner, Dennis Lee, started Octane Fitness.  He talks about his and Dennis’ previous experience in the industry as a key benefit to their original success.

4:30 – Tim talks about the types of customers that Octane Fitness sells to, and its distribution strategy, which includes selling to specialty fitness stores, health clubs and major league sports teams.  He also mentions that he met Bruce Springsteen, since Bruce purchased an Octane Fitness product to use backstage on a recent tour.

6:10 – Tim describes the types of products that are sold by Octane Fitness.

7:40 – Tim shares the number of people currently employed by the company, as well as the original team in the very beginning.

8:53 – Tim shares Octane Fitness’ revenue totals for this past year.

9:10 – Tim describes what it felt like when the company was recently sold to Nautilus.

10:05 – Tim talks about how they came up with the Octane Fitness name.

11:25 – Tim further describes the opportunity they saw before they started the business, and explains how fortunate they were since the competition left a gap in the market for the product they designed and offered.

12:50 – Tim describes his current role at Octane Fitness.  “I feel like a kid in a candy shop.”

13:20 – Beginning of the “Tell Me How” Podcast Segment

13:39 – Tim talks about how they raised money for the business in the early days. He describes the risk that he and Dennis Lee took when they left their jobs, talked to investors, and faced economic uncertainty.

15:35 – Tim talks about how he and Dennis Lee worked together at a previous company before starting Octane Fitness.

16:10 – Tim describes the challenges of raising capital for the business.

17:30 – Tim talks about his confidence level going into launching the business in 2001.

18:59 – Tim offers advice on how to raise capital: “Stay at it.” “Get introduced to more people.” “Ask for introductions.”

19:55 – Tim describes how they found a manufacturing partner to produce the elliptical machines.

21:11 – Tim talks about the manufacturing issues that occurred in the early stages of the company and how their costs were 25 percent more than expected.

23:25 – Tim explains the severity of the original manufacturing problem and how it threatened their company.

24:37 – Tim offers key advice on how to best find a manufacturing partner.

25:25 – Tim talks about how they originally approached retailers about their business idea and product line.

26:45 – Tim explains how they sought retailer and customer feedback about the product before they started manufacturing the product.

27:48 – Tim describes working with sales representatives and distributors.

29:48 – Tim talks about the role of trade shows, events, and expos in their marketing and sales plan.

31:30 – Tim talks about their approach to pricing the product. He describes a “bottom up and top down” method.

32:30 – Tim offers some key advice on how to set the right price for your manufactured product.

33:44 – Tim describes how they originally marketed their product with small marketing budgets.

37:40 – Beginning of the “Let’s Get Personal” Segment

38:01 – Tim describes what motivated him to become an entrepreneur.

39:37 – Tim explains the critical moments in the history of the company, which included a frivolous lawsuit about patent infringement, which caused distraction and needless expense.

42:00 – Tim answers the question, “Did Your Success Surprise You?”

42:38 – Tim describes what he has been most proud of since starting Octane Fitness.

43:50 – Tim talks about some of the self-doubt that he experienced since becoming an entrepreneur.

44:35 – Tim describes how becoming a business owner has changed him as a person.

45:10 – Tim talks about the achievements that are yet to come for him and Octane Fitness.

45:51 – Tim describes what he’s learned most about himself since becoming an entrepreneur.

46:41 – Tim describes the people that have been most influential to him.

48:03 – Tim offers closing advice to podcast listeners. “Paint a vision.”

About the author, John

John Benzick is an entrepreneurship coach and the founder of Venture Superfly. He is a Tech Partner at the venture-capital fund of Matchstick Ventures, a Mentor with Techstars Retail accelerator, an Entrepreneur-In-Residence and (former CEO-in-Residence) at the University of Minnesota, and founder and owner in two consumer product businesses. Click the button below to learn more.

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