Monday, October 12, 2009

Potential Entrepreneurs Pt 1

Teammates, having just returned from the INC 500 awards ceremony and a trip to London, I’ve been asked a series of questions that are surprisingly similar and thought that both the questions and the answers would be of interest to you. Many of the questions are from students in entrepreneur or public relations classes (Mike Lamothe and Carolyn Casnova to name a few), but what was particularly interesting to me was while meeting new retailers in England, the buyers asked me similar questions – here you go. Paging all the potential entrepreneurs out there!

How did you come up with the Perfect Pushup?

The funny thing is, I had this idea since the early 90s when I was a young SEAL officer, but thought it was so “ordinary” that it wouldn’t be of interest to people. I was looking for the really “extra-ordinary” breakthrough product, and I spent A LOT of money and even more time trying to make the invention work (which we called BODYREV). I nearly went bankrupt (along with my partner) trying to educate folks on the value of our invention. Finally, we came to our senses after four years and decided to adapt to the marketplace and put our efforts behind an innovation – which we called the Perfect Pushup.

What’s the difference between an Invention and Innovation?

This is a really important concept in my book. An invention is an idea that has no reference point – it’s completely new to the market – it defines an entirely new category, which by the way presents another challenge: what are you going to call the category? What’s the definition of the category? And how are you going to defend it with your limited resources?? Examples of a new category: Segway, the two-wheeled motorized scooter or Apple’s iPod or Xerox’s copier or Twitter. In the case of an innovation, the idea has a reference point. That is, people can reference something in the brain that is a launching pad for quickly understanding how the product works and then easily filing it in their brain and passing along the idea to others.

In our case of the Perfect Pushup, our reference point is pushup bars – U-shaped stationary handles and the innovation that we brought to the table was adding rotation so it better simulates the natural movement of your arms. Our mantra: engages more muscles – easier on the joints – like a punch. Super simple to explain and convey to others.

When you launch your own idea, first ask yourself, it is an innovation or an invention?

If you have really deep pockets and super patient, long-term investors, then knock yourself with leading with the invention, but if you’re just starting and with limited resources, go for the “ordinary” idea first – the innovation – that people can quickly grasp and understand.

Part 2: How will you grow, fight off imitators and keep your competitive edge?


Keep those questions coming! Send them to


Eros Poli said...

Great post. Your hard fought experience forging the path of Invention and coming to the realization that the path of Innovation is a much easier trail to success, brilliant.

I cannot tell you how many times I have come up with ideas that I have discarded because I was measuring against the bar of Invention, when if I had used the more reasonable bar of Innovation it would have been more attainable.

Ok, now I have to go dust off my old ideas.

Lastly, I went to the Seattle Seahawk game Sunday and twice I got stopped by fans asking if I was an NFL player. Ok, I am 6' 3", but I suspect this is all due to the 8 weeks I have spent doing 200 Perfect Pushups and various Perfect Pullup exercises almost every day! You guys make a great product, and I am getting great results.

What makes this so interesting is that I am 48 years old.

Nancy in NC said...


Just wanted to let you know that while the world may not have caught on to the brilliance of the BodyRev, I’m still using it and loving it. Sorry it wasn’t a commercial success for you, but it’s definitely been a personal success for me.

It’s been a few years now, but I’m still revving for an hour 2 or 3 times a week. It’s the only exercise program I’ve ever stuck with and the results have been terrific. So thanks for a great product.

I’ve got the Perfect Push-up too, and I use them when I do BodyRev Bootcamp, but I prefer the overall BodyRev workouts to doing a series of push-ups.

51 and still revving!

Alden Mills said...

Nancy in NC -- Alden here. We're not giving up on the Rev either. I'm a believer too and I want you to share your story!


Alden Mills said...

Navarone -- This is great - thank you for your response. I want your story to inspire others! Drop me a line at Pictures too plse!


Sandra said...

Nancy in NC,

Sandra from Perfect Fitness here to thank you for sharing your story. We are bringing the Rev back, and would love you to join us to tell the story!