Entrepreneur of the Week: Ryan Beaumont, Mobility Technologies
Mobility Technologies is the creator of the Afari, a mobility aid that allows people to participate in running and walking activities in diverse terrain.
We spoke to CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Beaumont about Mobility Technologies, and the opportunity they see in the 50+ market.
Longevity Network: What does Mobility Technologies do?
Ryan Beaumont: We want everybody to enjoy exercise and we eliminate the barriers that some people face.
LN: Can you tell us about the Afari and how it works?
RB: The Afari is about walking comfortably, naturally, upright, without leaning or hunching over. You place your forearms on the supports and transfer weight to suit, as needed. The large tires enable use over diverse terrain – trails, cobblestone, beaches, snow. You could even run with the Afari. We use standard bike components, and so the Afari is well suited for bike handlebar accessories, cargo bags, and so forth.
LN: What opportunity did you see that you wanted to address with the creation of the Afari?
RB: Our co-founders Liz and Stephen invented the first Afari prototype in order to run a 5K. They are both active, have issues with standing balance, and enjoy exercising outside instead of on a treadmill. They weren’t able to find any satisfactory equipment, so instead they invented the Afari. As it exists today, Afari still addresses those core issues – being able to exercise, run, jog, walk outside with comfort.
LN: Who are your primary users? How does the Afari benefit the 50+ population?
RB: We are early in our product launch with the Afari, so we can’t yet speak to our “primary users”. The benefit of exercise has been demonstrated for every age and affliction. The issues arise around adherence and in trying to find trends with barriers and motivators to exercise. The motivators are generally the same for all ages – competition, goal tracking, rewards, social – all the major activity trackers have this part figured out. The barriers are more difficult to address. For the 50+ population Afari addresses some of these barriers, such as chronic pain in the hands, back, joints. Another significant barrier is around the issue of self-stigma and perceived-stigma, which is an area of expertise in our research group.
LN: How did you assemble your team?
RB: The three other co-founders found me. Together they make a strong R&D group, and they have relied on me to build the commercialization team. It took about a year and three hundred cups of coffee to assemble the core team that is now generating interest in the Afari. We are an early stage company, so I’m looking for two key traits: self-motivation and the ability to ask good questions.
LN: How has Mobility Tech differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?
RB: When I first started I envisioned a product offering more in the realm of durable medical equipment, though the co-founders had the vision of sports and fitness products. The vision has broadened to the elimination of barriers to exercise, which means we stay true to the sports and fitness focus, while pursuing clinical work to gain acceptance from providers.
LN: What do you wish you had known before developing the Afari and/or Mobility Tech?
RB: I was surprised how long it took to build the team and network of trusted advisors and mentors. There is a great deal of complexity in figuring out how to balance what people are able to contribute and where people derive motivation.
LN: What most excites you about the aging and or health technology market?
RB: The amount of innovation is tremendous, so it is exciting to be an entrepreneur and engineer in this world. And boomers haven’t really started “aging” yet. I expect I could be working into my retirement on innovations with aging.
LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?
RB: First consider ageless design in your product or service offering. We see the Afari benefiting all ages, for example rehab in youth and collegiate athletics is a significant target market. For us, reaching the 50+ demographic is a question of marketing strategy. For those wanting to dissect the boomer and senior psychographics there are volumes of material, from trends in health and wellness to the challenges facing adult child caregivers.
LN: Do you have any other products in development?
RB: Yes we do. One other product for outdoor recreation and two products for providers. With one of these products, we hope to address challenges in memory care.
LN: Where do you see Mobility Tech five years from now?
RB: Awareness of the Afari will be vast and I expect we’ll have an international following as well. We will face some serious questions (and excitement) about product rollouts, as we have three in development right now.
LN: What health or wellness technology do you hope exists by the time you retire?
RB: In the realm of health, I hope to see advances in telemedicine and remote diagnostics. I also hope there is some agreement on EMR/EHR platforms and standards in 30 years to support new tech.
LN: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
RB: If you have a story that you would like to share regarding your challenges with mobility products, we would like to hear about it.
Also if you are a provider – clinician, therapist, physician – we would like to hear about any clinical populations which you think have particular barriers to exercise. We are dedicated to addressing these barriers and ultimately proving benefit with our ongoing clinical work.
Ryan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Mobility Technologies and draws from over 12 years of experience with engineering, biomechanics, manufacturing, and startups. As a consultant and entrepreneur he has led ventures in marine renewable energy and occupational health and safety in manufacturing. Ryan earned a MS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine and was a recent graduate of the Top Gun entrepreneurial accelerator program.