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Founder’s Feature: Keeth Smart

Physiclo co-founder on beating the odds

If you’re looking to get the most out of your workouts, it might help to enlist the expertise of a former Olympian. If you can’t manage that, the next best thing might be to grab some Physiclo tights for your next trip to the gym. At least that’s what three-time Olympic fencer Keeth Smart hopes you’ll do.

As co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Physiclo, a fitness apparel startup, Smart is making a bold foray into the athletic clothing industry. Using what it calls “Pro Resistance Technology”, Physiclo claims its resistance tights allow users to get stronger faster, get better cardio results, and even achieve the same results from a normal 40-minute workout in 30 minutes. Currently the company offers capris and tights for women and shorts and tights for men.

Leading a startup in an industry dominated by the usual big-brand players may seem like a daunting task for most, but Smart is no stranger to long beating odds and understanding how to methodically master himself and the competition.

Growing up in Brooklyn Smart had big dreams of being a professional basketball player. However, his father, who worked at a sports publication, realized his son’s aptitude for hoops might not carry him very far and researched other sports. Once the elder Smart learned about fencing and that famed American fencer Peter Westbrook operated a foundation dedicated to training minority kids, his son’s path to achievement was set.  Smart eventually achieved the No.1 ranking in the world in addition to making multiple Olympic teams. However, when it was time to transition into “the rest of his life”, Smart found himself at a crossroads.

“As I was winding down my Olympic career, I was essentially a professional athlete and I realized that there are very few exit opportunities for Olympians,” he says. Knowing he would need some help to jumpstart the next phase of his life, Smart decided going to business school and earning his MBA would be critical to his development.

Smart’s business school and athletic backgrounds ultimately gave him the unique perspective to forge his current path. He remembered using resistance bands during his Olympic training sessions in Europe, so when he connected with two medical school students using resistance technology for a project to help patients lose weight, he recognized a much bigger opportunity to develop a product and take it to market. The resulting idea eventually became Physiclo, which launched in 2015 with approximately $100,000 in grants and another $400,000 in angel funding, and currently sells its products directly to consumers and athletic teams via its website.

As Smart continues to guide Physiclo in a highly competitive marketplace, he offers some perspective that’s served him well, both as an athlete and an entrepreneur. “The value of coaches and mentors had such a huge impact on my development.” he adds, “It’s really, really important to ask for help, ask for feedback, and then be receptive to it.”

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