April 5, 2017

FitWood flexes its muscles in home exercise

FitWood’s latest products are designed in collaboration with Finnish NHL star Alexander Barkov (left), who plays for the Florida Panthers. Barkov has also invested in the company. CEO Matias Kukkonen is on the right.
FitWood’s latest products are designed in collaboration with Finnish NHL star Alexander Barkov (left), who plays for the Florida Panthers. Barkov has also invested in the company. CEO Matias Kukkonen is on the right.
FitWood

There is little room for excuses to skip a workout if your training equipment is a stylish part of your home decor.

Despite all our good intentions fitness equipment often ends up gathering dust in a closet instead of improving our muscle definition. For Matias Kukkonen, CEO and founder of FitWood, the reason is simple: fitness products are often too unattractive to be kept out on display in our homes. And what is out of sight is out of mind.

“If the equipment would be in plain view [and ready to use] all the time, it would support a more active lifestyle,” Kukkonen says. “We started to question why design thinking has not been applied to fitness equipment, when it is part of everything else in our homes.”

FitWood’s solution? To combine trendy bodyweight training with sustainability, Scandinavian design and Nordic wood to create a new product category of ‘design home fitness equipment’.

The wood for FitWood’s products come from certified forests. All the materials are free from harmful chemicals and the focus is on making products that please the eye, are easy to use and can last a lifetime. While this puts a premium on the price, Kukkonen believes there are plenty of consumers that share these values.

FitWood is creating a new product category of design-focused home fitness products which combine functionality, sustainability and Scandinavian design language.

FitWood is creating a new product category of design-focused home fitness products which combine functionality, sustainability and Scandinavian design language.

FitWood

A perfect example of FitWood’s design approach is its latest innovation, a coffee table that doubles as a training bench. It looks like a nice wooden table with a glass cover, but Kukkonen ensures you only need to move the glass away to use it for a whole-body workout complete with box jumps, steps up or bench presses. Parts of the table can even be used as weights.

Sports background

Kukkonen’s interest in our wellbeing stems from years of competing as a national level sprinter. Some 10 years ago he started his first foray into entrepreneurship with an online sports retail business, but a busy schedule left training at home as his only option. Now Kukkonen is pouring his business and sport experiences into developing new products for FitWood.

“I had been thinking for some time that while my business was Finland-oriented, I would like to focus more on exports,” he explains. “Something that would also offer bigger opportunities for growth.”

Meeting his current business partner Ossi Numminen three years ago provided the final push Kukkonen needed. FitWood was started in the summer 2015 and its first products hit the shelves six months later in time for the Christmas season. Now the company has nine products in its catalogue, its first retail partners outside Finland and customers as far away as the US.

To fail is to learn

Today FitWood’s products are more useful to Kukkonen than ever as he and his six-member team are busy building an international distribution network, continuing product development and creating brand awareness.

Furthermore, the company just closed a successful round on Finnish equity crowdfunding platform Invesdor, raising over 100 000 euros. But there have also been missteps on the way. In early 2017 FitWood decided to try its luck on popular US crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but the campaign failed to gain attention.

For Kukkonen this was an important lesson on preparation: “The significance of your own contacts is much bigger in these campaigns than people understand. If you just launch a campaign without commitments from investors in advance, people will not find it.”

His advice now is to do proper groundwork to get key people on board who can help get a campaign off to a flying start. This will then attract other supporters. Kukkonen also emphasises that crowdfunding is not suitable for all types of products.

But for FitWood it proved to be the second time lucky and now the company is ready to add weight to its international push. When your ambition is to create a new product category, you want top spot on the podium.

Text: Eeva Haaramo

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