This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of 425 Business.
When Michele Mehl founded Bothell-based Excy and created her own portable under-desk exercise bike, she knew she wasn’t bringing a new product to the market. But Mehl‘s product was a more robust, active option, and she turned to Kickstarter to help launch it.
At just 10 pounds, Excy is a versatile, convertible exercise bike with adjustable resistance. The pedal device can be used while sitting in a chair, lying on the ground, or by working the pedals with your arms to provide an upper-body workout. Its companion app connects with heart-rate monitors and tracks time and calories burned, while offering a selection of workouts.
Mehl launched her Kickstarter campaign Oct. 20 and ran it for 20 days, and received the support of 72 backers for a total of $22,775 on a goal of $19,618. “It was so important to get (units) into the hands of people who are going to be active and highly engaged in giving up feedback and making sure we have everything lined up before we go into our first major production run,” Mehl said. “We’ve already been through (the production) process and made adjustments, so I want to fine-tune them and get them better before we scale because I have to get it right. Crowdfunding is an awesome way to go.”
Mehl said one of the most stressful elements of the Kickstarter campaign was creating the video. Because the company is bootstrapped, she was working with a limited budget and had to choose between hiring a company to produce the exercise videos or the Kickstarter video.
“I decided it was a better use of funds to nail my workout videos that are on the app and have better quality content that would help people use the product,” Mehl said. “It took me a really long time to make the (Kickstarter) video.”
Following the successful campaign, Mehl is working to collect feedback from users, make updates to the device and app, and gear up for presale orders.
“By pushing that button, you’re pushing yourself out there and it’s a very vulnerable moment,” Mehl said. “Some of the most motivating moments of this are seeing how the product can be adapted to be used for everybody, including people with disabilities.”