founder

GRIT BXNG At Home Founder Bill Zanker on Creating a Social Fitness Experience

Introduction

COVID-19 shifted many aspects of life from in-person to remote, including workouts. Although the United States is slowly resuming pre-pandemic life, plenty of Americans have come to enjoy the convenience of working out at home. 

GRIT BXNG At Home has developed a smart and complete gym called GRIT EPIQ that consumers can enjoy in the comfort of their homes. This AI-powered product allows its users to perform a variety of exercises, interacting with fitness friends remotely all the while. We reached out to CEO Bill Zanker, one of its founders, to hear about GRIT EPIQ’s origins and how it connects users.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Olivia Strobl

Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?

Bill Zanker

GRIT EPIQ is the newest innovation in at-home connected fitness. When in use, the product opens up to a touch screen mirror, a fitness bench, boxing knuckles, and smart dumbbells. It is truly connected and utilizes AI. When not in use, it’s a sleek bench that blends seamlessly into any room in your house.

Olivia Strobl

What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?

Bill Zanker

We were forced to close our flagship fitness studio GRIT BXNG in NYC during COVID for more than one year. Thankfully, we are back open today in Union Square. While stuck at home, we tried every single at-home fitness product on the market, and we were underwhelmed by the existing devices. We wanted to create something that’s an all-in-one productintelligent but also social.

Olivia Strobl

What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?

Bill Zanker

I am a serial entrepreneur. I’ve had the good fortune of successful exits with The Learning Annex and Great American Backrub. I started the first online learning company called Brainfuel that was acquired by Allen & Company. More recently, I launched the GRIT BXNG concept with my family, and in the seven months we were open pre-COVID, we were killing it. So, when I see an opportunity like I do here now in connected fitness and in the boutique fitness space before that, I try to find a way to take the industry in a new and bigger direction by finding the best people to join me in my vision.

Olivia Strobl

What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?

Bill Zanker

It’s exploding. Everyone knows about the growth of Peloton over the last 18 months. At one point, the company was valued in excess of $40 billion. Lululemon made a big splash when it acquired MIRROR for half a billion dollars. But it’s not just the mainstream names. The entire industry has seen an extraordinary influx of investment and venture capitalist money over the last yearhundreds of billions for Tonal, Tempo, Hydrow, Liteboxer, etc. It’s a white-hot space. According to Allied Market Research, online fitness is projected to be a $59 billion industry by 2027.

Olivia Strobl

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Bill Zanker

We approached Eric Villency, the world-famous designer of the Peloton bike, to design the GRIT EPIQ. He is a fan of GRIT BXNG and has come in to experience it. When COVID hit, we asked him to design a cutting-edge total home gym encompassing the exercise modules that our clients love from GRIT BXNG. We’ve also put together a world-class team of hardware and software developers, led by SweatWorks, to bring together all of the cutting-edge features we plan to incorporate into GRIT EPIQ.

Olivia Strobl

Do you have any competition? If so, how do you differentiate?

Bill Zanker

The at-home fitness space is booming with products like Peloton and MIRROR. However, they are not a complete home gym. They tend to specialize in one workout modality. We are a total gym with smart dumbbells, haptic boxing knuckles, and resistance bands. 

We are also the first truly social-plus piece of fitness equipment. On a Peloton or Tonal, for example, you can’t interact with other users via audio or chat. All you can do is send others a high-five emoji. With GRIT EPIQ, we will have a two-way mirror, chat, and audio functionalities to interact with other users and your trainer.

Olivia Strobl

What does your business model look like?

Bill Zanker

We will have multiple revenue streams: product sales, subscriptions, and lastly, upselling anything from apparel to seminars to VIP memberships.

Olivia Strobl

What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Bill Zanker

We are raising $10 million to get EPIQ to market in 2022. I am a big fan of allowing the public and our potential customers to get in early and hopefully reap the benefits of investing before the rest.

Olivia Strobl

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Bill Zanker

As I mentioned, I am a serial entrepreneur with several exits in the consumer space. We revolutionized boutique fitness by making working out fun with GRIT BXNG. Our Union Square flagship studio in NYC is the first gym to add a full liquor bar to create a third space for clients and trainers to mingle before and after class. We love to innovate, be different, create buzz, and do things uniquely.

Olivia Strobl

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Bill Zanker

I have always tried to have an exit for my companies. Here, it seems that an IPO or buyout from a private equity firm or an acquisition from a larger company is on the horizon. Our goal is to make working out fun through a vibrant, social-plus community of like-minded fitness enthusiasts.

We are excited to see where Bill and his team take the company. GRIT BXNG At Home is currently raising on Republic.

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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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