The entrepreneurial process is unlike any other, and Cal Poly students Madison Lewandowski, Sara Glaser, Emily O'Neal, and Clayton Pelz know this all too well.
Lewandowski and Glaser competed in Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Startup Marathon in 2019 to develop and pitch their idea called FEARLESS Fitness Kids. The 54 hour-long competition didn't go exactly as Lewandowski and Glaser anticipated, but they learned a lot about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
“Everyone's running on like three hours of sleep,” Lewandowski said. “We're all hyped up on caffeine and adrenaline and we had like two hours to basically make our entire pitch and then pitch it in front of everyone.”
After that, co-founders Lewandowski and Glaser worked hard to improve their pitch for the next competition. Their effort paid off: FEARLESS Fitness Kids won first place at Cal Poly’s Innovation Quest on April 24 and received $15,000 to continue making the company a reality.
FEARLESS Fitness Kids aims to create interactive exercise games to get kids excited about being active. The founders have been working on the company since their pitch at Startup Marathon. During that time, they pivoted and shifted the direction of the company, so the path wasn’t always easy.
“We were still working that entire time; it was just kind of like we pivoted so many times it didn't really feel like we're moving forward,” Lewandowski said.
Glaser said this productivity soon grew into something even bigger.
“Now, it's like a job at this point," Glaser said. "We're putting in a lot of effort. So it feels good to be moving forward. It really does.”
The co-founders decided to change their model from targeting adults to targeting kids during fall quarter 2020. Glaser said this transition came with worry and anxiety, but when they released their Beta game in February, they got to see kids playing it at home. The feedback they got was all the validation they needed.
“It's better than what we expected," Glaser said, "like kids are jumping, screaming like they love it."
The FEARLESS Fitness co-founders don’t just create workout experiences for other people; the team also exercises while they work by doing impromptu push up competitions.
“When we took our breaks, we would go outside and do push ups because we're like, I don't know, I thought it was funny for a fitness-oriented team,” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski and Glaser said they couldn’t have created the pitch and company on their own. They work with the other co-founders, Clayton Pelz and Emily O'Neal to bring the vision to life.
“Working with this team, we can all trust each other,” Glaser said. “I feel like we're all very passionate about this.”
During Glaser’s time developing the company, she has learned a lot about what it takes to keep the team’s momentum going.
“Something that I've really learned is how easily enthusiasm and passion can just spread within your team,” Glaser said. “When nobody's passionate, you feel that with everyone, and then as soon as one person is, it spreads very easily.”
Both Lewandowski and Glaser said the Cal Poly entrepreneurship community is very supportive, and they see their position as female entrepreneurs as something that is an advantage because it sets them apart in competitions.
“There are so many guys in this field, and so when we're in a pitching competition, and they're used to seeing a guy after guy after guy after guy pitch, and then all of a sudden they see two girls, it's like, ‘Oh, this is different,’” Lewandowski said.
Glaser's advice for other people wanting to start their own company can be summed up in one word: perseverance.
“There's going to be bumps in the road and downfalls — there is no possible way it's going to be smooth. It's just how it goes; you learn from your mistakes,” Glaser said. “But if you let one downfall make you give up, obviously it's not going to work out.”
The FEARLESS Fitness team has been accepted into the Cal Poly HotHouse Summer Accelerator Program and is hoping to use this opportunity to work with advisors to start up their company.
Despite all the growing and changing their company has done over the past few years, one thing keeps them going: “I think as long as you have your passion, those bumps in the road are still going to be there, but it'll get you through them so you won't actually give up during those times,” Lewandowski said.
To learn more about Fearless Fitness check out their website and social media channels below!
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