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US $120k investment in Sunderland entrepreneur’s radical home-workout experience

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Published on 20 February 2018

Business Computing Graduate Elliott Perry
Business Computing Graduate Elliott Perry

Sunderland graduate Elliott Perry’s live and on-demand service which allows people to join fitness classes from the comfort of their own home has attracted the attention of the lucrative American fitness market.

Since Elliott Perry, from Washington, founded Flex in 2015, his business has gone from strength to strength with up to 3,000 sign-ups. The streaming service allows leading fitness instructors to host live and interactive classes, broadcast into the home via internet TV boxes and supporting casting devices, as users link up through a heart-rate monitor to keep check on their workout and compete against others.

As a result of the London-based Flex’s growth, Elliott and business partner Matthew Quinn have been accepted onto US based Techstars, a worldwide entrepreneur support network that runs three-month long start-up school bootcamps known as ‘accelerator programmes’.

Elliott, who graduated in 2012 with a first-class degree in Business Computing explained: “Having moved from Sunderland to London I'll now be moving again to Boulder, Colorado - the fitness capital of the US - to focus on American expansion for Flex.

“We’re delighted to have been accepted onto Techstars, the equivalent of an ivy-league university in the tech start-up world. Techstars comes with $120,000 in funding and by joining the programme we'll have access to world-class mentorship from the founders, executives and employees of the world's most successful technology companies such as Amazon, Google, Twitter and Airbnb. We'll also have access to Techstar's investor network, providing the funding necessary for us to accelerate development of the company. By joining the Boulder programme specifically we'll be located in Colorado, the fitness capital of the US.”

Flex works by calculating your maximum heart rate using the HUNT fitness study model (calculating your maximum heart rate after analysing important factors such as: age, weight, gender and height) and scores you points per minute. These points and your overall percentage are then stacked in a leaderboard in real-time throughout the class.

Combined with music, classes including bootcamp-style training, calisthenics, cardio and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), are broadcast at a specific date/time and everyone tuning in works out at exactly the same time. The instructor engages everyone by shouting out encouragement by calling out individuals by name.

 Natty Zola, Managing Director of Techstars Boulder, said: “We’re super excited to have Flex join us here in Boulder. The Boulder programme has attracted many health & fitness technology start-ups over the years that have gone on to be successful companies. We’re looking forward to working with Elliott and Matt to turn Flex into the Netflix for fitness.”

Elliott founded his first technology start-up, an accelerator program in the North East, at age just 23. Specialising in B2B online events marketing and analytics, Elliott sold the company to a London firm and moved to the capital in 2014.

Explaining the concept behind Flex, the 27-year-old said: “Both myself and Matt had difficulties balancing our professional careers with a healthy lifestyle. We had both tried ‘at-home’ workout websites and apps as we thought it was the obvious solution to packed gyms, overbooked peak time classes and traveling back and forth. But we found that the ‘at-home’ exercise space was such a lacklustre experience compared to, say, boutique studio classes. The poor experience meant that we didn't stick to it and build those all-important healthy habits, but we saw no reason why technology couldn't be used to make at-home exercise far more social, engaging and fun. That's when Flex was born.”

He added: “We are on a mission to make at-home bodyweight exercise as exciting as boutique studio classes. We combine wearables with live and on-demand video workouts to deliver a fun, immersive, gamified fitness experience that quickly becomes addictive.

“Technology for live streaming is coming of age and it’s an exciting time for our team, but I’ll never forget my roots and where it all started as a concept in Sunderland!”

There are plans in the pipeline to connect Flex into smart home voice assistant devices such as Alexa and Siri, as well as considering the future of the fitness experience as developments in 3D augmented reality take shape.

Asked how his University experience shaped the person he is today, Elliott said: “I studied Business Computing, rather than computer science, because I knew my interests lay at the intersection between business and technology, I wanted to be able to commercialise my ideas. That said, I still had no idea which areas of computing interested me most.

“It was only throughout my four year journey with Sunderland that I really discovered what I was passionate about. My placement year at Sage, which the university sourced for me, was pivotal in developing the foundational skills necessary for my start-up journey that was to follow. I keep in touch with the university because I really think Sunderland offers a lot of opportunity for students in the IT sector.”

 For more information about Flex, visit:

 Website: https://www.sweatflex.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sweatflex

Twitter: https://twitter.com/flexsweat

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sweatflex/

 For information about Elliott Perry, visit:

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/elliottjperry

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elliottjperry