Wednesday, 18 April 2018

ukactive ActiveLab Launch event

It was a privilege to attend the ActiveLab launch event yesterday evening at the Plexal in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The room was full of fit tech innovators, disruptors, investors and mentors, and there was some fantastic networking and discussion. 

Steve Ward opened the evening, talking about how we need to switch from seeing technology as an issue. A lot of the time, the movement industry is battling against tech; nowadays we click to shop, rather than walking, and we swipe to date, rather than dancing. But tech can also help us to move more, get motivated, and get people to be healthier and happier.

CMO of Plexal, Tom Messett gave a good account of how the Plexal and the London SportTechHub is supporting fitness technology startup companies. An impressive $2.4bn has been invested in FitTech over the last 5 years. But this pales in comparison with the $31bn invested in FinTech in the last 1 year. Events like ActiveLab are crucial to raise the profile of FitTech, and help launch and grow more businesses to help get more people active.

Tech's bad reputation in Fitness

Tom also spoke about how we need to work on overcoming gym-timidation. There’s a lot of effort put into engaging with the few who are already highly motivated (visiting 4-5 times a week), or even the slightly motivated (visiting once a week). We need to find innovative ways of engaging with the much larger population who are not exercising or moving enough. This thinking has been generating a lot of conversation lately, so a separate post on the topic is on the way...

Next, a panel discussed the future of fitness, with Rowan Conway from the RSA being the standout speaker. A great soundbite was to “Think like a system, but act like an entrepreneur”. She also offered some very sage advice on dealing with government – you can’t always work around them, they’re usually there for a very good reason, and often need to be part of the process.

The ActiveLab cohort of 11 companies presented themselves for 1 minute each. All companies/products were very thought-provoking, with a good variety of solutions. With the issues above, my interest was particularly piqued by Imin (Nishal Desai), Find a Player (Jim Law), UnitChallenge (Dominic Carrol), FitLink (Paul Gosnell) and MyCustomerLens (Paul Roberts).

A big thanks to ukactive for organising a great evening and networking opportunity. We wish all the ActiveLab 2018 cohort the best of luck, and look forward to seeing the developments, results and outcomes at Active Uprising in Manchester on 20-23 June.

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