Innovators in Focus: Sarah Apgar, founder of FitFighter - Lorraine Marchand
Our Innovator in Focus today is Sarah Apgar, founder of FitFighter, a strength and conditioning system based on a free weight made from real firehose and double recycled steel.
Sarah, who got the idea for her innovative fitness product while serving as a volunteer firefighter, also serves as a great example for our Law of Innovation #7:
‘The odds are against you, but you can improve the odds. Take the steps needed to de-risk your business model.
Now that she’s been awarded $250,000 on Shark Tank, and earned national media exposure in the process, you would think that Sarah Apgar’s worries about the risks of developing FitFighter might seem unfounded. But she started out like any other entrepreneur — with a good idea and a boatload of passion, but no guarantees her big idea wouldn’t end up being a big flop.
Sarah, a Princeton grad who served as a U.S. Army officer in Iraq, had a plan in place to increase the odds in her favor. “I think you can hedge your risk upfront by creating a runway in front of you that has clear milestones and goals that you’ll achieve,” she says. “In my case, we raised money, including 20 percent of my own money, to get our product development from the garage to the point we were ready to go to market.”
For that financial support, Sarah went to friends and family — a network of people that have sustained her.
“You need to have a village that supports you…a circle of people you love and trust,” she says. “Being an innovator is not always a comfortable place to be. And you’re going to have people that say your innovation sucks. I’ve had people comment on my social media about my product, `that’s useless!’ or `What? A firehose as a free weight? What a dumb idea.’ Although I’ve developed a thicker skin, I’m still sensitive to people telling me my idea is stupid. It’s like getting punched in the face. That’s why you need to have this village of people who are unconditionally a call away, to prop you up.”
Sarah’s insights on how she lowered — and beat — the odds against her innovative, new product are inspiring and motivational. I hope you enjoy our latest “Innovator in Focus” — a series of interviews with some of the entrepreneurs and founders profiled in my book The Innovation Mindset, which is now available for pre-order!
Lorraine Marchand - Innovation Alchemist
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