Hey guys! Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them. Today, we’re chatting with the founder of Recoup Fitness, Matt Hyder.
Today’s episode dives into the nitty-gritty of how Recoup Fitness got started, all the roadblocks they encountered, and ultimately how they became the successful brand they are today.
We thoroughly enjoyed listening to Matt share his journey with entrepreneurship — his persistence and dedication are an inspiration to us; we’re sure you’ll find this as informative as we did!
Let’s jump right in.
Matt began Recoup Fitness to bridge the gap between professional training rooms and home muscle recovery. Their philosophy is if they can recover the best athletes in the world, they can recover anyone.
“We started with our flagship product, which was the cryosphere. Simply unscrew the lower part, place it in the freezer for two hours, and it’ll stay cold [for] up to six hours. Then you use it to roll out your feet, calves, hamstrings, hips, and lower back. [Once] placed in the handle, it free rolls, enabling you to reach any muscle group. It’s an all-in-one recovery tool.” – Matt Hyder
It sounds like this all ran smoothly, but before Recoup Fitness, Matt had run four businesses into the ground (his words!) as a failed entrepreneur. He learned his biggest lesson this way — create for yourself, not others.
“I took that methodology and used [it with] my sports background as an athlete in a very loose sense of the term. [Having] tried all the typical recovery methods, none of them provided the relief I was looking for. I got a sprinkler cap and ordered an iron ball from China [and] drilled a hole in it. I immediately tested it in the market with the Denver sports recovery center that treats all the Broncos, and [while] they hated the prototype, [they] loved the concept. That was enough to show me I have something and started running with it.” – Matt Hyder
What an excellent entrepreneurship story! This all began in 2015, and once he had the faith to continue, he started teaching himself how to cast moldings, but couldn’t figure out how to mass produce them. Still working out of his parents basement, Matt used whatever sales he made to buy a 3D printer. This was what helped him catch his first big break.
“I emailed an investor [who had] just sold his company to get his advice. He lives in California, and he gave me a maybe. I took that as a ‘yes’ and flew out to LA the night before then. He texted me in the morning saying, ‘You have 30 minutes.’ I pitched them on the product, he liked it, and [he] gave me a hundred dollars. I flew back to Colorado, remade the product with a 3D printer and sent him $120 back. That return on [his] investment [is why] he brought us up to the 49ers.” – Matt Hyder
That is the epitome of the word “hustle.” Matt certainly sees every “maybe” as a “yes” and every “no” as a potential “yes” down the road! This mindset is just one of the reasons he’s so successful today.
Developing the product is one thing — bringing it to the mass market is a whole other ball game. Matt continued with his hustle taking out an additional student loan to take things to the next level. Incredibly, his dad matched what he raised to support him, and it was a process of trying to figure out all the logistics. Everything seemed to be very difficult and expensive, but he kept figuring it out and consistently testing it. Before everything was 100%, he had an idea to generate interest.
“We got lucky; I emailed a show called The Doctors, and they liked us enough that we went on the show and pitched it. That’s when I realized this is getting much bigger now. Then we opened up the website right before The Doctors show, which was pretty cool to do and see the launch. I was at Squarespace because I didn’t know any better than to start there!” – Matt Hyder
We’ve interviewed people that have been on Shark Tank and heard what happens when that episode airs — the website goes crazy! We were curious if he had that same experience.
“Absolutely not! But we learned that it’s still a logo [a reputable brand], so how can we still promote this on the backend? Even though it didn’t drive much traffic on daytime TV, now we have the logo and need to figure out how to utilize it. We plastered it everywhere on the website, on our marketing, driving sales that way, and building our credibility. If something doesn’t work, how can you keep creatively problem-solving it to make it work? – Matt Hyder
What an important lesson on turning a “failure” today into a success tomorrow!
Nine months after this experience, they received their first investment from Jumpstart Foundry, based in Nashville, which is a healthcare accelerator. That investment started Matt on his process to learn about online marketing. At this point, though, he was still running everything. In March, 2016 he met Natalie Dunn, his current Chief Operating Officer (COO). She worked for free because she believed in his company and no one was currently teaching him how to do anything.
“I was burning cash very quickly. Didn’t understand inventory management, but just took the last $5,000 we had risked it all during the holiday season and turned it into $35,000, which allowed us to raise more money, get us to this next level. We risked everything, and then I was able to pay Natalie in January. My first employee!” – Matt Hyder
When Natalie joined, learning Facebook marketing wasn’t their only crash course — they realized their inventory was all wrong.
“The ball was too big and wouldn’t fit in the handle. … I thought ‘We’re done,’ but we figured if we sell the ball itself without the handle … [as] a plantar fasciitis recovery tool. It turned into a huge market, and that’s what helped explode us during holiday. We risked it all. … It just took off. We sold it for $19.99, [and] even though it wasn’t the $40 price tag, it helped us get rid of all of our bad inventory. When someone wanted to buy the handle next, we would just switch [them] out with a brand new one. That’s how to solve a huge problem that almost sunk the business as we started.” – Matt Hyder
Wow — that’s what we call thinking outside of the handle (box) for sure! Matt certainly doesn’t back down and has an incredible knack for finding workable solutions to problems.
While Recoup Fitness’s sales began to take off, it created additional work they didn’t have the employees for. This meant running the business in between fundraising for more capital. Matt was battling to get anyone to take them seriously for investment — this led to 100+ hour work weeks.
“We’re getting creative on how to raise money. [We] started getting small investments, but raising money was my job full time, as well as trying to sell the products. That was the grind for 2017, but we got some big investments helping us grow from $85,000 to $450,000 in sales.” – Matt Hyder
This was all before they were on Amazon! However, Amazon proved to be an important learning curve — for more than one reason.
Not being on Amazon and selling mainly B2B meant other companies were selling Recoup Fitness on their own channels. It took an accelerator program in Telluride to understand the importance of having their own Amazon channel.
“We took a step back and got rid of everyone else on Amazon. I was also able to hire some very awesome people as well. Glenna Haug, in particular, took over Marketing. She deserves all the credit for our Amazon success. We went to Amazon Launchpad, a cool platform for startups that you apply to them. If you get onto it, they help you sell. They give you influencers. They do all this amazing stuff. They gave us guidance on how to navigate Amazon the best way. When we broke that million, we actually got a customer representative. They gave us the algorithm on the backend and how that works.” – Matt Hyder
Here on Products Worth Talking About, we cover the benefits of being on Amazon extensively. Matt gives us a great example of Amazon Launchpad’s support structure and how it can exponentially grow your business. If you have a product-based business? We suggested visiting that site today!
In 2019, Matt thought he had secured a $500,000 investment. Without a capable CFO, their books were not done correctly, and they lost that investment. That’s a steep learning curve that forced Matt to find mentors to create his own CEO school so he could build a team and learn his role on a deeper level. This change stood him in good stead for the second round of investing that came later that year.
“We grew rapidly. In 2019, we raised a second round of funding and launched the cryosleeve too, taking us from $827,000 in sales 2018, to $4.2 million in 2019! 426% growth and returned to EBITDA (earnings before interest and tax depreciation and amortization), a positive $150,000 EBITDA making money, which was my biggest thing.” – Matt Hyder
Being an entrepreneur is challenging — Matt shows us how to overcome them in today’s connected world, recognizing his gaps in knowledge and connecting with mentors to solve the problems he faced. Self-education became a critical component in ensuring business number five was successful.
Recoup Fitness essentially created their own market, which leads others to start copying what they did. There are already a number of products out there copying them, and we wondered how he handles it.
“When we first started, there’s nothing else out there on the market. Then we created our own marketplace, and even [a large company] stole from us, which is pretty funny to see. …We had a utility, but it was only patent-pending. Once again, we learned through failure. Get the design patent first because it takes three to six months because you can expedite them. It’s worth the fee.” – Matt Hyder
If you run a product-based business, there are people out there who will want to copy your product, especially if it’s successful. You can apply for a patent, or you can continue to focus on building your brand and becoming a leader in the market. The better product always wins.
We weren’t interested in reading the thousands of reviews on Amazon — we asked Matt directly what sets Recoup Fitness’ products apart from the competition.
“The key is [the cryosleeve] stays cold up to an hour. It doesn’t melt all over you like an ice bag does, and let’s say you’re swollen or something. You don’t have to use the compression units. If you add the compression, you can still move and live your life to recover and cook and not simply sit around. Other compression systems are $2,000, or you can rent it from $150 a month, or you can buy two of our products that do the same thing, and it lasts at least two years. [Ours is] $89 99 with the lifetime warranty on it — and they last longer than those other alternatives” – Matt Hyder
It’s crazy that the saying “the simpler the better” really does ring true. Especially when we live in a world where products are over-engineered. It’s refreshing to listen to a company focus on simplicity. Not only is their product cheaper, more effective, more durable, but their return rate is staggeringly low! The industry average for wearables is 25 to 30%. Recoup Fitness is 5%.
We’d regret it if we didn’t ask Matt about his habits that work for him and if there are any he’d like to replace. His answer wasn’t what we were expecting!
“You don’t want my habits. I do the things you shouldn’t be doing. Lack of sleep [being one]. I’m focused on taking better care of myself because working 100 plus hour weeks; not sleeping for a couple days at a time is not very healthy. I don’t eat very healthy — so don’t do what I do! Two years ago I [invested in a life coach] and still work with her to this day, her name is Dr. Terri Finney, best lady in the world, but she at least keeps my head on straight. I’m an example of what not to do. It’s so hard on the body. Like eat healthy, drink water, and sleep. You perform much better, but sometimes you have to do long hours, but don’t do it long.” – Matt Hyder
Matt makes a valid point about mental health, too. It’s something many entrepreneurs overlook — overall health includes mental health and emotional health with a support structure.
As entrepreneurs, there are going to be times when you have to hustle, work 100 hour weeks, and miss out on some sleep. What’s important to know is that this lifestyle is not sustainable. You have to take time for yourself and your loved ones so that you can have a work-life balance. Overworking will only lead to burnout, and burnout doesn’t do well for your company.
Before ending the episode, we asked Matt if he had some final pieces of advice to share with us as entrepreneurs:
“I would say the biggest one is [to] make sure you love what you do. You don’t have to be good at it, but find things you love that you do because the world isn’t that happy. We supply more happiness in the world, and you love what you do. Money will come like that. And if you love what you do, know the problems [you also have] the passion for. Finding that I think is vital. I also think [you need to] work hard — be willing to get through all this stuff and like outlast yourself and realize that if, when there’s a problem, if there’s an opportunity like just keep working hard. If you don’t know things, read it, seek information; there are no excuses not to understand what’s going on and learn.” – Matt Hyder
Even though Matt is in the trenches and hustling, he’s still asking for help all the time. It seems that he’s become successful because he’s realized what he isn’t good at and immediately acknowledges this. We commend him for that. That’s a rare trait to find in a CEO.
“I think the easiest way to get rid of the ego is to humble yourself. I don’t know all the answers [so I] ask people for help. It’s crazy what you can get done by asking someone for help. Don’t be afraid to ask. I think one of my biggest successes was always getting consistent help.” – Matt Hyder
What a great story from the Founder of Recoup Fitness on this episode of Products Worth Talking About. We appreciated Matt joining us today, and we hope you enjoyed reading this post.
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Thanks for reading! Until next time —
RT and Tyler