As an ultramarathoner, Brent Teal understands the ecstasy of a good run and the agony of being injured and sitting on the sidelines. So, when injured training partner Bryan Pate asked him to design a device to replicate outdoor running without the impact, Teal jumped on it.
In early 2010, after nearly five years of research, testing and prototypes, ElliptiGO was born in Teal’s Solana Beach garage. As the world’s first elliptical bicycle, the ElliptiGO has the sleek curves of a road bike, the low clean lines of a Razor scooter and the smooth elliptical movement of a full-size gym machine.
Teal recently talked about the development and future of his innovative ElliptiGO.
Question: What is an ElliptiGO?
Answer: The ElliptiGO is an elliptical bicycle that emulates running outdoors without the impact. It is an ideal cross-training device for healthy runners and a replacement for running for injured runners.
Q: How and when did you come up with the design?
A: The other co-founder of ElliptiGO is Bryan Pate. He and I used to train for triathlons together. Over time Bryan eventually had to stop running due to knee and hip injuries.
In July 2005, Bryan contacted me to see if I could build a low-impact running device he could ride on the streets since there was nothing like that on the market.
My mechanical engineering background coupled with my love of running and bikes made me a perfect fit to partner with him on this project. For the next three years we focused on building prototypes and filing patents to establish a solid intellectual property position, while we both worked other full time jobs. In February 2010, after four and half years of prototypes and testing, we shipped the first ElliptiGOs to customers.
Q: Why not just ride a bike or go to the gym and use the elliptical?
A: The ElliptiGO is all about providing a low impact, outdoor running experience with comfort and safety advantages over a bike. The upright riding position on the ElliptiGO provides a more natural posture that puts significantly less strain on the neck and shoulders and because there is no seat there is no seat pain. Compared to the elliptical machine the ElliptiGO has the key advantage of allowing riders to be outside enjoying the southern Californian sunshine, not trapped in a sweaty gym.
Q: How tough was it to find financial backers for a new product when the economy was in the tank?
A: We have been quite successful in raising the investment capital because we have been able to connect with investors who really believe in our product. We have investors who were former avid runners who have had to quit running because of injuries. Our bikes have really impacted their lives in very positive way.
Q: How many employees work for ElliptiGO?
A: We have 13 extremely talented and energetic full time employees.
Q: How many different models of ElliptiGOs are available? What’s the difference between them?
A: We offer two different models, the 3C and the 8C. Both models are capable of speeds up to 25 miles per hour on flat terrain. The 3C, which sells for $1,799, offers three different levels of resistance and can climb up to a 5 percent grade (the equivalent of the Torrey Pines grade). The 8C, which sells for $2,399, offers eight different levels of resistance and can climb up to a very steep 30 percent grade.
Q: Where is the ElliptiGO available?
A: There are 175 retail locations in the U.S. which carry ElliptiGOs, including bicycle shops and shops which sell indoor fitness equipment. We also sell bikes online at elliptigoblvr.wpengine.com.
Q: How many ElliptiGOs did you sell last year? What are projections for this year?
A: We sold about 1,100 bikes in 2010. For the majority of last year we sold online direct to the customer. We now have international distributors in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a UK subsidiary establishing distribution throughout Europe. This year we expect to sell about 5,000 bikes.
Q: What was your revenue for 2010? What are you projecting for this year?
A: Our annualized revenue from February 2010 to February 2011 was $2.5 million with most of that coming in after June. This year we are on track to at least double our revenues.
Q: Have you seen any profits so far?
A: We expect to be profitable in the next couple months.
Q: With almost no advertising, how are you creating buzz and driving business?
A: We have had some really solid media coverage that we attribute both to the innovation and visual appeal of ElliptiGO. Combine that with a group of fanatical customers and a product that turns more heads than a Ferrari when out on the road, we’ve been able to generate some decent buzz.
Q: What’s next for ElliptiGO?
A: Our business objective is to launch this new elliptical bicycle industry both via the ElliptiGO brand and through licensing our intellectual property to other companies. We foresee many different products in the elliptical bike category, including models specific for commuters, children and off-road. The possibilities are endless.
-By R.J. Ignelzi