Last fall, we announced the eight winners of the inaugural Render Competition. Each startup received a $100,000 investment to scale their solution within and beyond the Greater Louisville region. Now, we’re catching up with each of the winning founders to hear about their Competition experience, including lessons learned and advice to future applicants, as well as getting an update from the company about what’s ahead.
Next, we’re excited to hear from Kyle Poulin, CEO and founder of True Adherence.
True Adherence has created digital displays with AI training capabilities that empower gyms to offer an unrivaled fitness experience. Their product is powered by computer vision and provides users real-time biomechanical feedback and adaptive exercise programming while they perform strength training movements. To learn more, you can check out their pitch here.
Why did you decide to apply for Render Competition?
The straightforward answer: capital. The broader answer, I liked the idea of a cohort investment. One where we all committed to move to a region and work around each other for a year was a fun idea. It shows commitment to uproot your business and move to a new HQ.
What was something you learned from the application process?
I learned that there are still assumptions we have to prove out to back up our idea with more data. Even though we launched a beta in the middle of the process, the second round judges wanted to know what our data focus was. The feedback between rounds has helped form the strategy of True Adherence going forward.
What did you take away from your interactions with the judges?
I was impressed by the caliber of judges throughout the phases of the competition. From what I could tell, the judges were either business operators or investors of some degree. As a result, many of the comments and questions showed a personal understanding of what is at stake when developing an early-stage company.
What attracted you to Greater Louisville?
People. Period. I was introduced to Louisville in February 2020 while competing in the University of Louisville Cardinal Challenge. Due to flight schedules, my co-founder, Chris, and I were only in town for 28 hours. After winning the challenge, we continued to keep in touch with several judges and mentors. That experience let me know that the startup network in Louisville is engaging in startup success.
How are you using the $100k, and how will it help you scale your startup?
We’re continuing to develop the product to get it ready for a full commercial launch at the end of 2021. To hit our launch milestone, we’ll be investing in significant marketing events towards the end of the year. The fitness industry has a few key conferences that we will attend as part of our product launch.
What advice would you give to a company applying for the next round of Render Competition?
I misunderstood the intent of Render Capital during the competition. I never took the time to look at “The Render Mission.” After meeting and speaking with the team post-competition, I quickly learned that the investments made are a bet on the company and a bet on what our company can do to bolster the economy in Louisville. That is to say, rather than invest in getting a multi-million dollar exit, Render invested in True Adherence to provide job creation, economic empowerment, and long-term opportunities in this region. It’s a humbling and motivating form of investment to receive.
Would the current efforts of your business look different today if you did not receive this funding? If so, how?
So, I’ll have been married to my wife, Marissa, for 12 years this coming March. Before becoming an entrepreneur, I had several mentors that mentioned giving their spouse an “option” that, when exercised, would result in stepping away from their current business/career endeavors for something more suitable. In going into True Adherence, I followed their example.
With that said, had the funding not come in from the Render Competition, Marissa would have exercised the option. That exercise means I would have spent time finding a full-time job while working on True Adherence on the side. That would have been challenging for the rest of the team.
What role do you see your startup playing in the regional economy over the next 5 years?
We’re going to have a two-sided impact. On the health side, we will be enhancing fitness in the region by providing hyper-personalized fitness programs to our clients. Enhanced fitness means people have improved energy and happiness, which will help them better contribute to the economy through their productivity.
On direct business impact, Louisville will become a hub for our distribution efforts to the East coast. As part of our plan, we will build out assembly, testing, shipping, and warehousing teams.
How has your business had to pivot or adjust over the past year?
We had to focus on the value we are generating for our clients. We thought it was a distinct feature of feedback. However, through user interviews and meetings with fitness influencers, we learned that we are providing personalized programs and them empowering people to do those plans correctly with feedback. Understanding that factor has led us to change the way we are positioning ourselves in the market and building the next phase of the product.
What’s next for your company in 2021?
We are moving toward the launch of the product by the end of this year. I’m excited about it. There is a lot of development and testing to do before then, but with the current features launching over the next month and the expansion of our Beta later this quarter, we’re on track for a fantastic launch.
What inspires you to continue to grow and push forward your business every day?
Whenever I meet someone and show them what True Adherence can do for them, I often get a “That’s incredible!” or, “That’s what I’ve been looking for!” With that type of response from strangers, I push each day, knowing that I am working on a product that will genuinely change peoples’ lives for the better.
Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when the 2021 Render Competition application opens.