In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Chris Divecchio, co-founder of Mobility Wall, the revolutionary foam rolling & self-massage system. Not only does this one-of-a-kind roller come with detachable massage heads, it also fits securly between any doorway, giving you more control in hard to reach areas. Listen and Learn about the inspiration behind the product and its road to Kickstarter.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • What inspired Chris Divecchio to create Mobility Wall
  • How Chris cultivated the team and what the design process was like
  • How the poduct’s features were ultimately decided
  • The prepwork leading up to the launch of the Kickstarter campaign

Links

Sponsors

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Transcript

View this episode's transcript
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Enventys Partners, the top full-service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over a hundred million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.
Roy Morejon:
Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by Gadget Flow. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am super stoked to be speaking with Chris DiVecchio, health and wellness expert, as well as inventor and co-founder of Mobility Wall. In his spare time, he also authored The 5×2 Method.
Roy Morejon:
Chris, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Chris DiVecchio:
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Roy.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. This is super … This is going to be exciting. I’m excited because one, you’ve made media headlines before, such as Good Morning America, New York Post, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, for helping one of your clients win the largest prop bet to date of over a million dollars, helping him shed some 70 pounds in a high stakes poker bet, basically, with some buddies.
Roy Morejon:
But you’ve also got this amazing innovation, the Mobility Wall, that’s truly a revolutionary foam roller designed to fit securely in any doorway. It’s basically the new way to foam roll. Let’s jump back in time, if we can, and talk about, where did this all start for you and what inspired you to be a health and fitness expert, as well as create Mobility Wall?
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. I’ve always been involved in athletics. My sport growing up was hockey. Went on to play division one college hockey, so that’s where a lot of my focus was dedicated as a kid growing up. Towards the end of my hockey career, I transitioned into competitive bodybuilding. I was inspired by my coach at the time to put on a little bit more size to play at the competitive level. I quickly fell in love with the idea of being able to just manipulate your body through nutrition and weight training. That’s what really sent me on a trajectory into the health and fitness field.
Chris DiVecchio:
After I graduated college, I moved back to Boston where I’m from originally. I was working there for a while and had always secretly had a passion for acting. I found my way out to LA, and for 12 years … In 2002, I came out to LA from Boston and for 12 years was finding some work in and out of the TV and film industry. I had an up and down career, not successful by any means of my own accord, where I wanted to get to, but along that way, I was using some of my knowledge and expertise and training to be able to get my body ready for different roles. I was using it as a way to facilitate income in between acting jobs.
Chris DiVecchio:
I had a training business running on the side. It just got to the point where I realized that training was going to be more of a successful path for me. I was actually finding a new way to introduce myself into the market of working from the inside out with my program designs. It wasn’t so much about coming in to get a great workout, even though that was a piece of it, but really working with people on a much deeper level to help understand and identify patterns and habits that were holding them back from being able to achieve their physical presence of what they wanted.
Chris DiVecchio:
I built a business literally out of my backyard. I had nothing. I was living in a, believe this or not, 250 square foot apartment, a block off the ocean at Manhattan Beach. I had prime location, but it certainly was not a mansion by any stretch. I had a little bit of space in the backyard and I requested by my landlord to be able to build an outdoor training facility. I was able to prove my concept of my philosophy of training, which quickly grew quite a bit of attention because before I knew it, I had people roaming around the area where I live locally as walking, talking, marketing. Fortunately was granted an opportunity to work with some pretty unique individuals. Before I knew it, the business was up and running.
Roy Morejon:
That’s killer. How did you evolve the business then into creating mobility while in terms of a product that fits a need that I think all of us working from home are struggling with, in terms of needing more foam rollers in our lives?
Chris DiVecchio:
Recovery work has always been top priority for all of my training programs when I work with clients. It was just painful for years to watch people struggle on the ground with foam rollers, primarily not being able to hold their own body weight up. It’s really … If you’ve ever been on a foam roller before, you know that it can be difficult to navigate and manage on the ground. In a lot of cases as well, it’s difficult to get certain body parts and areas of your upper body that you can’t even hit. It has a lot of limitations with the traditional sense of foam rolling.
Chris DiVecchio:
Aside from just watching clients struggle with it for many, many years, which inhibited their ability to build this as a habit, which is what I ultimately want with my clients, my mother, my 70 year old mother, had back surgery a few years back and she was instructed by her doctor to follow a pretty strict foam rolling regimen, which she didn’t like because it was difficult and challenging to get down on the ground. She couldn’t hold her own body weight up with her shoulders and her arms. I knew that there was a need for this type of solution and there’s certainly a much better, more efficient way and effective way to massage and foam roll your body so that you can increase and enhance mobility, range of motion, recovery.
Chris DiVecchio:
For years, I’ve been putting foam rollers and balls against the wall and just finding anything that I can to kind of dig into the areas that the foam roller can’t get to and be able to do it more efficiently. That’s really what kicked off this concept that there needed to be some sort of vertical solution. I knew that I had the ability to come up with the design, so I was already starting to work out in my head.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Let’s jump into that piece because I think that’s where a lot of these entrepreneurs are overthinking things. They’re just like, “How do I even get started?” Obviously, it takes the knowledge of there’s a need for this product and then let’s start designing what it would look like. After that, talk about your process in terms of the materials or how it’s going to be built or finding a factory like in order to bring this product to market.
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. To kick it off, I first had to start kind of thinking about it from the standpoint as a client or someone like my mother. While I have the expertise and knowledge of how to get into the body and how to effectively create a design that could be impactful, I also had to think about, “How do everyday civilians look at a foam roller and how do I make this usable in a sense where they’re still not going to struggle with it?” I was trying to find ways to work around that.
Chris DiVecchio:
But right away, I knew that there was a way to develop this where it would be easy for people to use. It would be minimally invasive in people’s homes, in their structures. I didn’t want to create something that was going to be nailed or screwed to a wall. I wanted something that was lightweight, easy to use, stores simply somewhere.
Chris DiVecchio:
Our very first concept design was built by a close friend of mine here who’s just a great handyman, but doesn’t have a whole lot of engineering experience. We built the very first design that was made to hang on the back of a door. It had a rail system and a pin locking system where the foam roller could move up and down and change at different heights, just like a cable machine at the gym. We made … The foam roller was interchangeable with different deep tissue massage attachments. You could take the foam roller off and put on a ball or a fork or a bullet-shaped trigger point, but they all move vertically up and down on that rail system. The first design, while it wasn’t anything to bat an eye at, in terms of aesthetics, it functioned incredibly well. Still to this day, I have it sitting in my garage.
Chris DiVecchio:
But very quickly, we were able to find an engineer through a platform called Upworks. This guy lived in Colorado. We’d never met him before in our lives, but we were impressed with his resume. We actually got in touch with him and flew him out to LA on a whim and picked him up at the airport, brought him to my house, and he sat in the living room with myself, my partner, my wife, and we iterated on the original design for eight hours or so, just trying to come up with different concepts and ways that we could reduce material because cost of goods was something that was obviously important to us on our side, the ways that we can strip it down to make it lightweight.
Chris DiVecchio:
We also wanted to make sure that it was intuitive and that it was functional for all the different areas of the body that we were really developing and designing this for. We sent him back to Colorado, and within a week, this guy had manufactured out of steel a version two and packaged it up and shipped it out to us. Here we are on our way. We thought, for sure, this was going to be the one. It’s refined. It looks much nicer. It functions and moves better, but our cost of goods was certainly still a concern for us. We just felt like potentially against the door there were still some limitations and not everybody would want to hang this on their door.
Chris DiVecchio:
We got to work with another team member and got introduced to a manufacturer who has really been a huge, huge part to the development of this product. We realized that building this onto a bar, a high tension rod rail system that could go in between the doorway, would give us our best bang for our buck. It would reduce the weight. Aesthetically, the perceived value on this product. We spent a lot of time on the engineering and the details of this product. We’re really focusing on trying to build this as a brand because we have a lot of ideas around mobility that we’re going to continue to introduce to our consumers.
Chris DiVecchio:
But there was a lot of thought that went into it from the material, making sure that it was lightweight, making sure it was durable and can withstand the test of time, we don’t want this product degrading after 100, 200 uses, and making sure that we have the right derometer, which is the density of the foam rollers. We’ve spent a significant amount of time in the testing phase with some of our science specialists to make sure that we have developed a product that across the board universally will create the solution for almost anybody, from teenagers to professional athletes to the stay at home moms to just busy executives. This product really covers a large spectrum of users.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no, I absolutely agree with that. You had mentioned a little earlier in the conversation in terms of building the brand and usually it comes up to be, how did you decide that Kickstarter was the right way to introduce your brand, your idea, your concept to the consumer world out there and then build up potentially multiple skews thereafter? Talk a little bit about how you got introduced to Kickstarter and why you chose that as a means to launch this innovation.
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. I’ve been around the Kickstarter community for a while. I follow a lot of fitness products. Monkey Bars was one product in particular that I was really attracted to and followed their path to success. They’ve been very successful launching several other products behind the first version that they came out with. I just thought it was such a great way to get market validation. With this product, even though we have a tremendous amount of confidence in the fact that we’re first to market with this combined solution of vertical foam rolling and deep tissue massage, we thought that Kickstarter would be a great way to introduce the product to also get market validation and reach a large audience very quickly.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. It’s definitely a killer spot for all of the early adopters out there looking for the next great fitness product or health and wellness product. This one’s definitely going to be received well for sure when this campaign launches on September 1st.
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. We’re excited.
Roy Morejon:
Let’s talk a little bit about the marketing side, the nuts and bolts of this thing in terms of prep work leading up to the launch that’s going to be here very quickly. Talk a little bit about some of that prep work that you guys have been doing in terms of leading up to the launch.
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. It’s been a real learning experience, I got to tell you. I feel intuitively our team in general has a pretty strong sense of marketing, but when it comes to developing an actual campaign and getting up on these platforms with Kickstarter is definitely not our strength. We’ve had to lean in with Enventys to really help us along the way and educate us along the way. We’ve been learning pretty quickly.
Chris DiVecchio:
We’ve been spending a lot of our time focusing on building assets. We recognize from previous companies, like OYO, the importance of having really strong assets that help deliver the message to the consumers about what the product is, what the problem is that your product solves, and just making sure that it’s also educating how to properly use this product. It’s been a real focus of ours, so connecting with production companies that are really great at video production and photography. We’ve also been launching test ads to build lead lists along the way to make sure that we have a long line outside the front door on day one, September 1st, of our launch, which has been something that we’ve really had to educate ourselves on.
Chris DiVecchio:
It’s also given us a little bit of space to go back with our manufacturers during this time and really fine tune some of the small details. We are continuously thinking about this product and really trying to think 10 steps ahead about making sure there are very few points of failure, making sure that all of the details are where we want them to be, and making sure that our distribution channels are in place to deliver the product successfully and without any problems or issues. We’re really trying to cover all of our bases and do our diligence ahead of time, knowing that coming up with the idea of a product is the first step, but making sure that it’s successful from launch all the way to delivery of product to the backers, and then customers beyond Kickstarter, is really, really important. Customer service and customer attention and focus is going to be a real top priority for us.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. There’s a whole lot of stuff that goes on in the backend, right?
Chris DiVecchio:
Oh yeah.
Roy Morejon:
Chris, this has been awesome. This is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid-fire a handful of questions. I know you’re good to go. You ready to rock?
Chris DiVecchio:
Let’s do it.
Roy Morejon:
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Chris DiVecchio:
My grandfather actually was an inventor. While he never launched a product successfully, he would spend several Thanksgivings and holidays introducing new products to the family. I always found it extremely fascinating. I think the rest of my family was like, “Okay. Another product. Sure, sure, sure. Next”, but I would always find myself leaning into his inventions and just the fact that he was so creative and brave to take these types of risks. In fact, at one point before he passed away several years ago, he had asked me to try and help get a patent for one of his designs. I was unsuccessful, unfortunately. This is in some ways an ode to my grandfather, taking this down the line and making this product and company a huge success.
Roy Morejon:
That’s great, man. If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would you want to have a workout with?
Chris DiVecchio:
Elon Musk. I don’t want to sound too cliche because he’s certainly a modern hero in the entrepreneurial world, but he has such a blend of imagination and absence of self-doubt. It’s something I really admire. I think on a … I’m not going to put myself on a platform with Elon Musk, but I think I have some similar traits in that sense where when I’ve had an idea … Mobility Wall is not my first idea concept. I’ve had a couple of other products that didn’t quite make it, but when I’ve had an idea, I’ve just never once even allowed a bit of self-doubt to even come to my mind. It’s just everything seems possible.
Chris DiVecchio:
I think with Elon, the same way. It just seems like there is no boundaries to his imagination and possibilities of creation. I’d love to spend some time with him and see if maybe underneath all of that, if there’s a few stories that he’d share about some times where he did have some self-doubt or some of the failures that didn’t really make it.
Roy Morejon:
What do you think Elon’s favorite workout is?
Chris DiVecchio:
Probably the OYO because he’s fascinated with space.
Roy Morejon:
Solid. Who’s your favorite athlete?
Chris DiVecchio:
Oh man. I don’t know. That’s a tough question. If I had to really pick one, I guess I would probably put Wayne Gretzky up there.
Roy Morejon:
What about Bobby Orr? Come on, man. You’re a Boston guy.
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah, no, Bobby Orr is up there as well. I actually ruined … My dad’s a sports memorabilia collector, and unfortunately, I ruined one of his greatest assets. I got a hockey stick signed by Bobby Orr, a small hockey stick, when I was seven years old. The ink started to run out on his pen, so when we got home, I tried to trace over his autograph. I was seven at the time. I had no idea of the value of sports memorabilia, but now my father is big time into collectibles. We look back at that day and he thinks that I probably took quite a bit of money out of his pocket with that one.
Roy Morejon:
It’s the memory that counts now, right?
Chris DiVecchio:
Right.
Roy Morejon:
Any business books or life books you’d recommend to our listeners?
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. I consume quite a bit. Grit is a book that I really enjoy. It’s something that I kind of use as a fundamental foundational word for myself and for our team, even for the Mobility Wall team. They define grit as a special blend of passion and persistence in the inside of that book. Myself and our team, we’re so solution focused as opposed to allowing ourselves to get stuck in the quicksand of problems and issues. I think that that’s really important as an entrepreneur to be able to keep trudging forward no matter what roadblocks and obstacles you come across.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. All right, Chris. Last question. I know you haven’t run the campaign yet, but you’ve said you’re deep in the Kickstarter world. Interested to hear your take on, what does the future of crowd funding look like?
Chris DiVecchio:
I think crowdfunding is only going to continue to keep getting bigger and gain more and more popularity. It already seems to have that stigma, which is great. But what I think is fun about crowdfunding is that it’s a way for people and backers to feel like they’re part of a startup and really get involved with very little risk. Not everybody has the resources and the capital to be able to just invest in an idea and a concept. There’s a tremendous amount of people out there who have creative ideas, but just don’t either have the resources or the means to take a product to market. Crowdfunding I think gives people the platform like ourselves to develop a product and get it to market quickly with market validation, but at the same time, for backers, it’s a fun way for them to feel like they’re getting involved and supporting a company and being part of the process of growth and development.
Roy Morejon:
Awesome. Chris, this is your opportunity to tell our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.
Chris DiVecchio:
Yeah. Listen, movement is life. Inherently, people who do not move well don’t feel well. Being able to create this revolutionary solution, to make this process much easier for people to build soft tissue work and foam rolling as a habit so that they can improve the way they move and their lifestyles, is so important to us. We’re really excited to bring this solution to the market so that we can watch people break through some of the plateaus and some of the barriers of pain and injury, and also increased physical performance in whatever sport they might be going after and rehabilitate their bodies through any types of injuries or surgeries that they might be suffering from.
Chris DiVecchio:
We’re really excited. We think we’re going to be doing something really positive in the world in terms of helping people. September 1st, next Tuesday, is our launch. That day can’t come fast enough. We’ve been chomping at the bit waiting to get out and introduced this product. We hope that everybody will come support us on September 1st. There’s lots of opportunities to take advantage of early bird specials. This product will not be easily accessible I believe moving forward in the future because we feel comfortable that people are going to be really excited and grabbing their Mobility Wall.
Chris DiVecchio:
Also too, you can check us out on our social media platforms. We’re really involved with putting up lots of content, not just to display the product, but also to educate people on the importance and the value of why foam rolling and soft tissue work is important and can really help your body in the long run in creating sustainability of how you move.
Chris DiVecchio:
That’s it. Keep an eye out for us. Hopefully, you’re going to be seeing us around quite a bit.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Thank you so much, Mr. Chris DiVecchio. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign once it goes live, and everything else we talked about today. Of course, thank you to our crowd funding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and ProductHype.
Roy Morejon:
Chris, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Chris DiVecchio:
Thanks so much, Roy.
Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course, if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business.
Roy Morejon:
If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on enventyspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.