Monday, March 30, 2015

Kickstarting Fitness

Michael Volkin appears to be more of an inventrepreneur than a "professional" game inventor (though he admits to having read, The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook). He has had successes on Kickstarter to fund his unique games. His specialty games harken to the adage, "necessity is the mother of invention".

Volkin's games grew out of  his real-life needs to "gamify" what he confronted while fulfilling his patriotic duties in the U.S. Army as a "company fitness trainer". By his own admission, he "accidentally invented" his line of games as he tried to make the grueling work of military fitness more fun.

Today, Michael Volkin has retired from the military, and is a best-selling author and entrepreneur with over 20 years of fitness experience.  He is considered the foremost authority on basic training, the subject extensively covered in his various books and described on his website, Ultimate Basic Training.  Volkin was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for the fitness programs he developed for the troops while stationed overseas. The core training approaches he designed are found in Strength Stack 52 and HIIT the Game, both products embraced by fitness conscious backers in their successful Kickstarter launches.

Volkin chose to use the Kickstarter model to get to market and forego traditional paths common to many toy and game inventors who license ideas to marketers or who personally exhibit at New York Toy Fair, just as 287 first-timers did this past February. Michael Volkin connected with enough fitness backers to reach funding goals and launch his products. However, a key question remains to be answered. Can a product reach more consumers through placement at thousands of retail outlets after successful sales pitches to 10,000 buyers at Jacob Javits Center or by using digital pitches to "backers" on Kickstarter?

The success of any product depends on reaching the maximum number of users! I asked Michael about his reasons for using Kickstarter to launch his products. He stated, "For me, it's an easy way to announce to the world not only the features of your product, but your intent on how you plan to roll out the product. People who back your product become evangelists for you, they root for you, they post reviews of your product, and they help build an early customer base."

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