Startup Sunday Season 3 Episode 15(Cubii – A new alternative to stay fit)

Cubii logo

Ever wondered if you could remain fit just by sitting? Ever wondered if you could shed some weight and improve your metabolism without going out for a run or any other rigorous exercise? Well, Cubii does that for you.

This Startup Sunday, The Entrepreneurship Cell of IMI, New Delhi features a unique startup – Cubii.

Cubii is a unique compact and a whisper quiet elliptical trainer which is designed to fit discreetly into your life. You can workout anytime and anywhere and stay in constant motion throughout the day easily by placing Cubii anywhere and working out as per your comfort even while working on something else.

Cubii product

Cubii is the brainchild of three passionate entrepreneurs, Arnav Dalmia (CEO & Co-Founder), Ryoto Sekine (COO & Co-Founder) and Shivani Jain (CMO & Co-Founder).
Cubii has been featured in various international media platforms such as TIME Magazine, Forbes, Mashable etc.

Cubii recognitions

The E-Cell Team had an opportunity to interview Mr.Arnav Dalmia, CEO of Cubii. Arnav hails from the city of Joy, Kolkata and is currently based in Chicago. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and has interned with multiple organizations before co-founding Cubii.

Arnav was recently recognized as one of Chicago’s 25 founders under 25.

 

Following is the conversation between E-Cell and Arnav:

E-Cell: What is MyCubii all about?

Arnav: Cubii is about integrating more movement into your life, wherever you spend most of your time- at the desk or on the couch. We build connected fitness devices that ease exercise into your routine, making it a habit rather than an exception. The Cubii compact elliptical, along with its companion app builds community and helps users stay motivated.

E-Cell: What’s in the name? Your Facebook page shows that the name of this product has changed over the years. Any specific reason for this? And what was the idea behind narrowing down to MyCubii?

Arnav: Great question! We started off as Fitness Cubed as the name of the corporate entity and then Cubii as the name of our first product. “Fitness Cubed” comes from fitness in a cube, ie. cubicle. “Cubii” is also a spin-off on the word cubicle. Think about us as friendly desk companion.

Now how did we narrow down on the name? Building one brand is hard enough, let enough two! That’s why we decided to focus on Cubii and leave Fitness Cubed out of the consumer’s eye. And our website domain is mycubii, just because when we were small and scrappy, we couldn’t afford the domain Cubii.com. Right now, we own Cubii.com but are hesitant in making the shift from mycubii.com for SEO reasons.

E-Cell: So, what was the Eureka moment?

Arnav: After college, we were at corporate desk jobs, and by the time we got home, we were too tired to exercise. I had a three-hour commute each day back then! Rather than taking out time to go to the gym, we decided to invent our own fitness machine at work!

E-Cell: As you’re based out of USA, what all markets are you catering right now? As your product is a global fit, what are your plans for expansion?

Arnav: Great question- yes, there is a major international appeal because everywhere around the world we sit too much.

In the early days, we felt like the only way we could grow was through geographical expansion. Soon enough we realized that was a bad decision. As a startup; we needed to be laser-focused as we had limited resources. There are numerous things you need to think about before entering a new market. What about warehousing? What about customer support? What about returns? What about spare parts?

That’s when we decided to go deep in one market (ie US) and that strategy has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.

E-Cell: Which mode of Sales channel is contributing more to your growth? Online or offline?

Arnav: Right now, it is mainly online and that’s the direction in which we see the industry headed. Cubii is not an impulse purchase since our avg selling price is $300. Customers do a ton of research before buying our product. They read reviews, articles etc. Online is the only way they can do their research.

That said, we live in a time where we are trending towards an omnichannel approach. Multiple touch points are needed for customers to make their decision, so offline has an important role to play as well.

E-Cell: What is your clientele base? Do you have any corporate clients? How do you plan to get them on-board?

Arnav: 90% of our sales are individual D2C. We have some corporate clients such as Samsung and Dell, but these are much longer sales cycles. Moving forward our plan is to continue to build awareness via D2C and corporates generally follow.

E-Cell: What challenges did you face in launching Cubii? Does your product face any competition?

Arnav: The biggest challenge was that we set out to manufacture a physical product, without any experience in product development, manufacturing, supply chain. Early on, we decided to get a great team of advisors involved and they helped us each step of the way. Even then, the supply chain requires multiple trips to China, staying there and scouting different factories.

Competition always exists and it’s a good sign- it means that other people also feel that there is an opportunity in the market. We focus on delivering a top-notch product and excellent customer service to differentiate ourselves.

E-Cell: Did you find any difficulties while funding your start-up? If yes, then how did you overcome it?

Arnav: A lot of difficulties- we were new in the States, no personal network, no startup or corporate experience and an idea that many people thought was quite absurd.

The answer was simple- we needed sales. We needed to show that consumer demand exists, so we focused on sales early on. We launched a crowdfunding campaign to generate sales, and that went very well. That helped us get meetings and conversations with angel investors going.

E-Cell: Tell us something about your Co-founders.

Arnav: 2 more co-founders- Ryota and Shivani. We all work really well together, partially because we’ve ensured that our roles do not overlap, and we are not stepping on each other’s toes. Shivani focuses on Marketing, Ryota on Product development and I’m focused on Business Development. We have a very open and transparent culture, so we hold each other accountable when it comes to our roles. We met in college and were friends first, so that helps in the dynamic between us.

E-Cell: Is there any point in your life when u wished to give up? How did you overcome this challenge?

Arnav: There were multiple such moments when we were trying to figure out manufacturing. However, what kept us going was the obligation that we had taken on from our customers- approximately 1000 people had trusted us with $300 each to deliver a working product to them. We couldn’t let these 1000 people down, so that kept us going.

Even now in the business, we face challenges on a daily basis. However, what keeps us going are customer stories, testimonials and the positive impact we are creating around us.

E-Cell: In this ever-changing global scenario, starting up a new business and launching an innovative product is a big challenge. What suggestions would you give to the young and budding entrepreneurs who are going to shape the future?

Arnav: It’s never too early. The timing is right when you feel it is right. Many people come up with a great idea, and then they wait for years to execute it because they think that they need some years of professional work experience. By the time that happens, the moment has passed, and you’ve lost out on the opportunity. In our opinion, it’s never too early. You constantly learn things on the job that you didn’t know before.

Lastly, don’t overthink it. If we had thought about all the challenges, competition etc, we would have gotten so overwhelmed that we would have never launched the business. Sometimes, you just need to follow your gut and take a stab at it. It’s better to fail fast rather than not having tried something.

Mr.Arnav’s attitude of not giving up with his unconventional perspective of changing difficulties into a mode of motivational driving force is an inspiration for all of us. Just like the famous quote goes “Find a gap, and fill it! “, Entrepreneurs provide what a society needs. Mr Arnav did just that. He addressed an existing problem in the world today. He has integrated exercising with the daily activities of the customer today.
Cubii’s story again establishes the fact that a great idea along with a well-collaborated team can take you through the journey that your heart desires.

We’d like to thank Arnav for taking out time from his busy schedule and agreeing to the interview.

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