Locals pitch to Dragons



Photo courtesy of Phil Jacobson
Photo courtesy of Phil Jacobson

People are constantly struggling to lose weight, get in shape and maintain good health and fitness. They invest in gym memberships and buy organic food in order to adapt to a healthy lifestyle.

And now, with the development of fitness mobile apps, personal training and workout motivation can be available at the touch of a button.

More specifically, fitness and healthy living have become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon that has been particularly attractive to young entrepreneurs.

Phil Jacobson, a recent Wilfrid Laurier University graduate, has invested into the world of fitness motivation with his new mobile application, PumpUp.

The app allows users to improve their health and athleticism through personalized workouts. PumpUp is beginning to gain large public recognition – so much so that it has even recently been featured on the popular television program, Dragon’s Den.

Jacobson, the co-founder of PumpUp, described the application as a mobile fitness coach.

“It combines the personalization of a trainer with the guidance of a DVD, and community of a fitness class into one experience on your mobile device,” he said.

The app allows the users to create goals, design workout routines and guides the user through these exercises, while simultaneously allowing app users to share this information with others.

Jacobson’s partner, Garrett Gottlieb, a computer science student at the University of Waterloo, originally created the idea of the PumpUp app.

As someone interested in fitness, Gotlieb was constantly searching for new fitness routines, but was unable to find an application suited for the individual.
Gottlieb saw a gap in the marketplace and therefore decided to make his mark.

“Being a computer science student, he saw an opportunity to build some technology that could design, customize and be personalized to its user, and he built a basic prototype of it,” explained Jacobson. “His friends and I liked it and we started working together, since we both have a tech and business background. Because of our different skill sets, it made sense to work together, but Garrett started it all.”

PumpUp is currently thriving as a new app in the marketplace, with 120,000 users since its release just a few months ago and 30 per cent of those users engaged. It is mainly marketed towards females ages 16 to 30, with just over 80 percent female users.

“By this time next year, we expect to see a million people using it across the world,” he said. ”And based on the global trajectory we are seeing right now, we will get there.”

Jacobson discussed the experience of being on Dragon’s Den.

“It was cool, I really like to pitch. We were in there for an hour and they were all really nice people,” Jacobson said. “The way they cut the show versus the way it actually happened was not exactly the same, but that is expected because they want to make good TV.”

“It was a really cool experience and we got great exposure.”

On the show, Jacobson and Gottlieb presented their product to the Dragons, asking for a $100,000 investment for a 10 per cent stake.

Dragon Dave Chilton offered to invest the $100,000 into the product but negotiated for a 20 per cent share. He also asked for a royalty of 25 per cent.
Jacobson and Gottlieb declined the offer.

“I encourage people to embrace opportunities and go against the traditional grain, try new things and if you are passionate about something and see an opportunity, go for it,” Jacobson said.

“You have nothing to lose when you’re this age.”

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