You might have seen him on your morning run along the lakefront, a solo rollerblader adorned in a Spiderman-esque vest with resistant cords running the length of his arms. It’ s intense, a little peculiar even, but Robert Carriere is okay with the looks. He wants the eyes, the interest; he wants the curiosity – what is it? It’ s a kinetic fitness apparatus… well, where’ d you get it? I invented it – because curiosity gets the word out about the Aorte Fitness Gear apparatus, and getting the word out is vital if Robert is going to turn his dream into a career.
But the Oakville-based entrepreneur has no illusions that selling his patented invention, which combines resistance cords with kinetic activity like running or martial arts to create a holistic workout, will be easy.
“I'm not going to say ‘I want to put one in every household’… that's not my goal,” he says. “But anybody that wants this vest, this apparatus, should be able to get one – I want to grow with that and try to put one on everybody who wants one, starting with the Toronto area and working out through there.”
Inventing is in effect, a family predilection; his dad holds countless patents and even while studying sculpture and mathematics in school, Robert knew he wasn’t going to “chase a career”; he was going to invent one.
The idea for his kinetic resistance training apparatus came out of that drive but Aorte Fitness Gear got a major boost – and a vote of confidence – in September 2015 when Futurepreneur, the Business Development Bank of Canada and Spin Master funneled $50,000 in startup funding into the company via their innovation fund.
Although he had already started to grasp the scope of what he was in for as an entrepreneur while participating in RBC and tax firm MNP LLC’s Pythons’ Pit contest (a riff off Dragon’s Den) the funding injection and myriad of resources and mentorship that came through the Spin Master innovation fund opened Robert’s eyes to the startup ecosystem in Toronto.
“Getting to Toronto and meeting these individuals who have really helped mentor me through the early cycles of how to start a business (has) really pushed me forward,” he says. “Now I'm at the point where I want to start tackling the fitness teams, the coaching staff teams, the Olympic committees.”
Robert sees the hockey world as a likely fit for his wearable technology but the scope is far-reaching including a wide range of sports training like martial arts or cycling as well as military uses.
“Anyone in the world that wants to get a bigger, better, stronger body,” he adds.
And he wants to start it here.
“When you have a new product it's either going to crash and burn or it's going to float through the sky,” he says. “I want to start with Toronto, start with the local hometown, and really get it rolling for us as Canadians before introducing it to other markets… you have to start at home, get your leverage at home and then see where you can fly from there.”