There’s nothing like getting a good cardio workout in after a long day at work. Sometimes, after those workouts, you might need some feedback regarding your cardio performance on the treadmill, stair master, or any of those machines.
Cyborg is a startup out of Manchester, NH that has created a platform offering voice-activated responses based on that day’s workout. We spoke with Founder and CEO Tim Near about how the platform can give users feedback and what it was like being a part of the Alpha Loft accelerator in New Hampshire.
Colin Barry [CB]: How did Cyborg come together? What was the big “a-ha!” moment that lead you to start the company?
Tim Near [TN]: I was an obese teen who lost 80 pounds when I was 15. It was the most difficult yet liberating experience of my life, and I always have wanted to create products that help others maintain healthy and active lives. In my early-20s I worked from engineering intern to lead engineer for a data acquisition company and became fascinated with how the right data can yield powerful insights.
Fast forward to late 2016, one month into our marriage, I confessed to my wife that I wanted to sell our house, move back into an apartment and launch a fitness startup. She knows how much it meant to me - she listed the house for sale the next day and I got to work.
Thus, Cyborg was born.
CB: What is the mission of the digital fitness company and how does the Cyborg platform work?
TN: Cyborg’s high-level goal is for everyone with a smartphone to have a virtual expert dedicated to their health and wellness. We’ll do this by passively aggregating data about your biometrics, caloric consumption, and activity. Then, we will use machine learning to process the relativity of these data streams and communicate suggestive action to the customer via our Cy assistant.
Currently, we have built the first voice-activated fitness platform. You can track your walks, runs, cycling or hiking like you would on other platforms. Our major differentiator is Cy, which can answer questions about your movement or environment. This allows the tracking side of your activity to fade into the background and you can immerse yourself in the experience, only calling on the information when you need it.
CB: Who are some of the average users? Have any use cases have stood out to you?
TN: At this time most of our users are competitive runners or casual walkers. Some of our users are utilizing the app for hiking. They keep their phones in the side pockets of their pack and ask Cy what their current elevation is; that way they can monitor how much progress they are making on their vertical climb. We weren’t thinking of that when we created that feature, but it’s a perfect use case.
CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?
TN: We’re currently a team of three, but once we close the next round of funding we’ll be hiring rapidly. The positions we’re interested in are mobile developers, web developers, marketing and graphic design.
CB: I won’t lie...Cyborg is a great name for a startup. How did you come up with a name like that?
TN: Cyborgs are humans that integrated with technology in order to increase their capabilities. We want our customers to feel empowered by our products, and we think the name perfectly communicates that notion.
CB: Cyborg was part of the Alpha Loft accelerator. Tell me a little bit more about your time there.
TN: Alpha Loft’s Accelerator program was an unbelievable experience and a large part of why we’re succeeding. If you’re in a startup you need to be ready to take tough criticism in order to move forward. Alpha Loft’s Director, Josh Cyr, balances supporting the cohort and providing black and white feedback in a way that I found very constructive. Alpha Loft’s guidance combined with validated learning are the reasons we found our product market fit while in the program.
CB: What sets Manchester’s tech space apart from Boston’s? Do you think Manchester has a chance to become a tech hub?
TN: Accessibility. Many of the most accomplished entrepreneurs in Manchester will actually answer a cold email of an aspiring founder seeking guidance. The startup ecosystem here has rallied around Cyborg in a way that I am so thankful for. I hope as Manchester becomes a massive tech hub, we maintain that level of community.