Necessity is the mother of invention, which was certainly true for ElliptiGO co-founder and CEO Bryan Pate. When knee and hip pain forced the avid runner to give up his favorite sport at age 32, Pate tried cycling for exercise. But he found the seat and position uncomfortable. An elliptical trainer might have been a suitable alternative for a low-impact workout, except Pate longed to exercise outdoors.
So he dreamed up his ideal equipment—an outdoor elliptical bicycle—and built it with the help of engineer friend Brent Teal. “We both had full-time jobs and worked on it after-hours, but our prototype got better and better, and we began to see an opportunity in it,” Pate says.
Creating a new product brought peculiar challenges. “One of our biggest early mistakes was underestimating how hard it was not having any competition,” Pate says. “We always saw that as a good thing, but there’s value in having competitors trying to do the same thing, raising awareness or legitimizing the industry.”
But 22 patents, 10 years and many prototypes later, their invention is serving a growing number of fitness fans, ranging from recreational runners to 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.
Pate’s advice to others seeking to bring a product to market: “Make sure you really, really like what you’ve invented and are trying to build a company around, because it’s too hard to do it otherwise. Regardless of what happens to this company, I’m always going to own these ElliptiGOs, and I’m going to ride them until I can’t ride them anymore.”