Although he always had a knack for product design and innovation, Louis Crowe was a medical doctor before becoming an entrepreneur. There, his experience treating ER and geriatrics patients led him to pursue better ways of treating patients. One of the areas that captured his imagination was electrical stimulation, which he saw as the only good way to communicate to the central nervous system.
Around 20 years ago, he started working with the concept, which after some iterations, became BionicGym. ‘Our muscles are the drivers of our metabolism and health. To be healthy, you need to breathe, eat and exercise, yet in our society, people can’t or won’t exercise. We solve that.’
Bionic Gym’s products help thousands of people around the world exercise from the comfort of their home or office. Through electrical stimulation, BionicGym can double the basal metabolic rate in a low setting, or burn as many as 500 calories per hour for more experienced users.
Proving the skeptics wrong has been a large part of Dr. Crowe’s work in the last 20 years.
‘We are still working on communicating the concept. If I go into a room and demonstrate the product in front of 20 people, everybody wants one. However, communicating that through my Shopify store is harder. We have a lot of logical proof on our website - peer-reviewed papers, medical records, articles in medical journals, but that doesn’t seem to be enough!’
Dr. Crowe overcomes this problem through great social proof and testimonials from his happy clients and endorsements from celebrities and influencers who have tried the product.
‘BionicGym was originally a crowdfunding campaign. We went to venture capital and they didn’t want anything to do with the concept, the bank wouldn’t fund us without collateral, and at that time, we only had a concept.’
The crowdfunding campaign was an absolute success. The goal was to raise €20,000 EUR. When it was all said and done, the campaign had raised €3.4 Million Euros, from 8,500 backers around the world.
After the crowdfunding campaign proved his concept, Dr. Crowe moved his focus to building the supply chain, and moving to direct-to-consumer (DTC) for future distribution.
‘We know that the product does well once it’s out there. Our challenge for the past few years has been getting quality, reliable, product in volume into the market. We’ve been playing catchup.’
BionicGym was having issues with logistics. They decided to switch manufacturers, which further set them back. They expected to fulfill their order backlog after the Chinese New Year, but that never happened, as factories began closing due to COVID.
They stabilised shortly after, but the question remained: If they know they can sell the product once it’s landed and ready to ship, how do they secure increasing amounts of inventory?
‘For a company at our stage, it’s all about cash-flow. We can sell the product once we have it. If we make an order today, it takes three months to land. In that three month hiatus, we need to fund not only the orders, but our own operations. Cash flow is critical.’
‘Wayflyer has allowed us to make much larger orders and catch up with our demand. Our delivery times used to be weeks or even months - but now, with our increase in inventory, those delays are coming down.’
Keeping up with demand is a common problem for successful, growing DTC brands like BionicGym. The solution is typically making larger inventory orders (provided they can access the cash).
‘We need to stay ahead of the curve’.
After engaging Wayflyer in May 2020, June, July and August have been the most successful months in the company’s history so far. In the last three months, sales of BionicGym are up 259%, versus the three months’ prior, on the back of a more stable inflow of inventory, and increased marketing spend.
‘Building a DTC brand has been very tough for me, and I’m sure other founders share the experience, so my top piece of advice is to get great business partners. Myself, I don’t have a great interest in business - I want to get the technology out - so bringing on quality people to handle the business part is key.
Wayflyer has allowed us to make much larger orders and catch up with our demand.