In this Q&A, hear from Erling Magnus Solheim, co-founder and CEO of PlayPulse, creator of a gamified exercise bike. Erling discusses the white space for effective and fun practice play experiences and how the community aspect drives rapid adoption.
Can you tell us what you are working on at PlayPulse?
Erling Magnus Solheim: PlayPulse combines the fun of playing with the satisfaction of a good workout. Our first product, PlayPulse ONE, is an exercise bike with game controllers and original video games where pedaling controls your movement in the game.
Based on scientific knowledge and thousands of user tests, we have developed a real gaming experience that is more fun when played as a workout.
From the hardware to the software to the games, we’ve stuck to our principles of creating a truly different practice game experience.
How did you come up with the idea? What important insight made you decide to take this opportunity?
EMS: Triggered by an understandable realization – wanting to play video games instead of doing a cardio workout – my co-founders Kristoffer [Hagen] and Stjan [Weie] wrote their master’s thesis in computer science on how they could be combined and developed a first prototype in 2015.
In his early PhD from 2015-2017, Kristoffer researched all existing solutions on the market. What he found was that they all lacked games or training – either the training was not effective or the games were too boring.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
EMS: First, while we bootstrap a lot, we put massive R&D and user testing efforts to perfect the product.
We then raised capital based solely on the promise of the product, which allowed us to hire a small but very solid team to finish the product and launch some early commercial efforts, like opening it up for sale on PlayPulse.com.
For our company, the next stage is to ship the product in early 2023, which is on schedule and just around the corner.
How big can that get? What is the addressable market and how are you going about capturing it?
EMS: From a qualitative point of view, it’s easy. We believe that most people don’t like hardcore exercise, but the majority would like to be more physically active. At the same time, most people like gaming.
This means there is a huge blue ocean opportunity for companies that can actually help people achieve their goals by doing what they already love. For us, it’s an addressable market of millions of people that creates a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
Looking at it more quantitatively using proxy data, virtual fitness is expected to reach $60 billion by 2027, while gaming will reach $321 billion by 2026.
In the next five to ten years, we will create revenue streams from users in the digital world and home fitness market.
Who is the main customer? How do you acquire customers? And how will you expand the customer base?
EMS: Our pre-orders come from people who are desperate for something that actually speaks to them and motivates them to be active. We’re seeing super strong feedback from families with teenagers and also couples who want to have some fun to get them moving.
To reach more potential users, we added organic content while running some ads live. But our strongest driver will be community-driven growth. PlayPulse is more fun when played with friends – and we know how strong the social component is – so recommendations from people who train/play together are key.
It’s also crucial that people can test the experience firsthand to understand and appreciate it, so retail is likely to become an important component as well.
Looking at your roadmap, what are some of the milestones you are aiming for in the next 3-6 months?
EMS: We will ship PlayPulse ONE to pre-order customers by April 2023 and ensure the experience lives up to our ambitions. That’s what matters.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers?
EMS: We are now opening our latest round of funding to the community via CrowdCube. To get involved, read our blog post about it!
Related reading from Fitt Insider:
PlayPulse Secures $2 Million For Its Gamified Fitness Bike
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