On the heels of Pebble’s success, two women are trying to make their own, more stylish workout watch a crowdfunded reality.
Bia is a GPS sports watch with a panic button. According to Bia’s Kickstarter project page, the watch also does the following:
- Provides a safety alert
- Has a quick-connect GPS
- Connects data to an online training log
- Features a one-button touchscreen, similar to an iPod
- Tracks you even while you swim, with water resistance down to 100 meters
Currently Bia has reached $351,875 of its $400,000 goal.
Founded by Cheryl Kellond and Sylvia Marino, the Bia project came about as sort of a “necessity of invention.” After combing through the Internet for countless hours, Kellond still couldn’t find the perfect watch.
“I ordered every sports watch on the market, and they were all really big, really complex to use, and didn’t do the things that I thought were most important. It just didn’t make sense that these watches had to be so large and so complex. So, we just decided we could probably do something better ourselves,” Kellond said.
Kellond and Marino knew they had to find people with a lot of experience to pull off the high performance watch they had envisioned. So, they turned to LinkedIn.
“This is why you need to nurture your network. We went through our LinkedIn profiles to find people that we knew who could help us figure out how to do this. Before long, we were up with a team in Portland that had done wearable computing and GPS sport watches for Nike,” Kellond said.
With a great product in hand, the team ran into another problem. They were running out of money bootstrapping Bia and found getting venture capital for the watch to be impossible. Pebble’s $10 million raise on Kickstarter inspired them to seek funding there.
“What inspired us about Pebble is how well it did on Kickstarter. While we never expected to do as well as them, it really made us think, ‘If they can get through that last push of their funding on Kickstarter than we can go do it too,’ Kellond said.
We asked Kellond why she chose Kickstarter over other crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo.
“Kickstarter, we went with for two reasons,” Kellond said. “First, the all-or-nothing funding. We wanted to make sure that when we finished it you know we wanted to make people feel confident that there money wasn’t going to go to our project unless we knew we could deliver. The second reason was that it was linked to your Amazon account. Our market is primarily women and have Amazon accounts and it takes a huge piece of friction out of there and it adds a huge piece of trust.”
Even though Kickstarter seemed like a viable solution, it still wasn’t an easy route for Bia, as much of their demographic wasn’t educated in crowdfunding. The team spent many days just teaching potential supporters—90% women—about how Kickstarter works.
Once it started to gain traction, Kellond says she was surprised by the response and inspired by all the support she was receiving from both females in business and athletes.
Crossing her fingers that she’ll reach her goal, Kellond is waiting to buy her ticket to Portland and get her project rolling. That is, after she gets some sleep and runs her half-marathon this weekend.
Check out the Bia video below: