Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider
Fitbit, one of the first startups to introduce fitness self-tracking devices to our pockets, has had some competition lately from Nike’s Fuelband and JawboneUP.Fitbit announced today a series C funding round of $12 million from The Foundry Group and True Ventures. The plan is to grow its engineering team and to expand internationally.
We sat down with Fitbit co-founder James Park to check out what it’s like to work at this 60-person startup and got a demo.
The first product he showed us was the Fitbit Ultra, which tracks your steps, running activity, and how much you walk up stairs. It can track your sleep, too.
“You can wear it anywhere on your body. A lot of our female users wear it on their bra. You can wear it in your pocket or your waistband,” Park said.
The second is a connected scale called the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale, which as launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The smart scale takes your weight, body fat percentage, and body mass index and uploads all that data to the Fitbit website. Users get to see charts and graphs of their activity and weight, and can get badges based on their fitness.
The products are sold at over 5,000 locations including 24 Hour Fitness, RadioShack, and Brookstone — and now Target. However, the scale won’t be on sale until April.
“The smartphone is a pretty powerful platform. We see [our products] as a complementary system. You can view your information on your smartphone. But the data gathering is on the devices,” Park said.
During our visit, Park only allowed us to use the restroom because he didn’t want us to see all the future product hardware parts laying around the office.
Park also said one of the reasons he started the company was to shed extra weight he gained when he was working on two startups. In 2007, he was motivated to start a company that would make him more mindful of his body and fitness level.
“I was really out of shape at the time after doing a couple of startups. The Nintendo Wii came out and had taken sensors and [integrated] incredible software with it. Gaming was no longer something that was sedentary. I wanted to take that and put it into a more portable form,” Park said. “In the future, sensors are going to get smaller, cheaper, and more power efficient.”
Needless to say, I left feeling like I needed to go for a walk. So I did.