By Andrew Seale
In an industry dominated by gimmicks and “as seen on TV” products that fail to deliver, weight-loss wearable developer Thin Ice knew they faced an uphill battle convincing the customers and investors the science was sound. To overcome the challenges, founder Adam Paulin tapped into the Government of Ontario's Starter Company to fund a prototype and streamline its vision.
Adam Paulin knows the weight-loss industry can be oversaturated and gimmicky, which is why he’s focusing on the technology side.
“We have to be careful and distinguish ourselves with the science behind this,” says the founder and managing director of Thin Ice. But Adam knows the science is on point.
“My background is in neuroscience and psychology and I also have a long history of personal athletics in the fitness industry,” he says adding that his startup fits perfectly at the nexus of his interests and skills. “I tried to find a way to make the concept of using cold temperatures for weight loss really accessible for people – it can't get much more accessible than wearing clothing.”
The concept behind Thin Ice is simple enough. Capitalizing on wearable technology trends, Adam has developed a product that integrates into whatever clothes you’re wearing via an insole or vest, or for the ambitious – both.
“It stimulates certain areas of your body with cold temperatures and forces a metabolic response,” he explains. “You burn calories to produce heat in your body to counteract the cold and the whole process helps you lose weight.”
After spending two months on his business plan at the start of 2015 and working aggressively to build it out over the following six months, Adam launched a crowd funding campaign. Within 10 days, the campaign raised US$280,000.
“We're getting enough to fulfill the 1,700 orders and we have as pre-orders so far so we've got some momentum,” he says.
It’s given Thin Ice a chance to connect with the consumers.
“The beautiful thing about crowd-funding is that it accomplishes so many things at once – not only are you raising money to make the product or fulfill a big order, you're also getting those customers, making sure your marketing is good and you're getting feedback from customers as you get closer to doing a big launch,” he says. “It helps you refine your concept before going for it.”
But Adam admits he’d be nowhere without that initial $15,000 prototype he had developed with support from Enterprise Toronto and mentorship via the Starter Company program.
“I had a strong business plan but I didn't have the finances to get a prototype made,” he says.
Using the $5,000 from Enterprise Toronto and additional funding from angel investors, Adam was able to get a physical version of his concept produced.
“The idea sounds too good to be true, it sounds like hocus pocus, so it's really difficult to show people that it does work,” he says. “Without a prototype it was very difficult, so I feel like that initial grant money and advice was what was able to get me over that hump that every entrepreneur faces.”
He says working with his mentor also helped him tone-up his vision.
“Initially my mentor didn't think I was a great fit for the program but I was able to convince him otherwise, and the relationship got really great from there,” says Adam adding that the straight-shooting relationship is ideal in the early stages.
“You need to be really confident in what you're doing to keep going forward but sometimes you get so caught up in your own way of seeing things that you end up doing the wrong things unintentionally,” he adds. “It takes a mentor with a lot of experience to open your eyes, The program was very helpful in that sense.”