December 3, 2019

#9: Jim Huether, CEO Hyperice

In today’s show, Joe Vennare talks with Hyperice, Inc. CEO Jim Huether, MBA about the rise of recovery.

Joe and Jim discuss:

  • Hyperice’s innovative and tech-driven approach to recovery
  • How Jim approaches leadership and team building
  • Why Hyperice got into the world of E-sports

Check out an overview of the conversation below or listen to the entire episode for more.

When did you join Hyperice?

JH: I’d been in the health tech space for quite some time leading organizations, and met Anthony, the Hyperice founder, in 2013. Our visions really aligned on creating a company and platform that would help everybody on earth move better, feel better, and live better through innovation and technology.

I joined the company in 2014. That’s when we shifted from more of an equipment technology company to a full on technology innovation company. The focus also evolved beyond sports performance — taking what we learned in sports performance and bringing that to the masses into other sectors. 

We really associate ourselves with leading technology and innovation to help the entire industry move better.

When did you know recovery was a big business? 

JH: We actually knew the recovery space was going to be very large early on. 

In my previous roles in sports tech dealing with professional athletes, I was hearing about the trend of recovery, mobility, and body maintenance going back to 2012.

In the early 2000s, athletes were trying to out-train each other, pushing themselves until their bodies started to break. There was a mentality and methodology shift that happened around 2010 where athletes started to look at ways to increase longevity. They understood that the longer they could play, the more money they could make and the more dominant they could be in their sport.

As that trend emerged, Anthony and I saw it in different capacities. We knew if we could prove that our products were incredibly beneficial for the world’s most elite athletes, we could take that information dataset and bring it to the masses.

How does Hyperice stay innovative?

JH: Our team comes together to create game changing products. We’re not just going to convert or adopt a product, we’re going to build it from the ground up.

We make sure every product is perfect. It has to be incredibly innovative, disruptive, and far more sophisticated and advanced than anything on the market. For example, the Hypervolt actually took three and a half years to develop, and we could have launched it earlier, but it wasn’t perfect. We knew we had to create a powerful, quiet, and versatile product that would really be innovative across all segments of the business. 

We also have a great authentic DNA with professional athletes, which is important because we can see around the corner since we have that accessibility to the athletes, trainers, and sports scientists. But, our commitment to innovation and building our products from the ground up, I think, is really differentiated.

How does Hyperice approach brand building? 

JH: We put a lot of focus on our branding, marketing, and messaging in everything we do. We’re especially focused on storytelling and inspiring. We obviously want to be educational, but we want to do it by teaching people about the products in a way that’s engaging and different. 

We’re always connecting to innovation and trying to teach people about our products. As Steve Jobs always said, if you can teach people something and they learn from you, they’re going to be incredibly sticky. They’re going to connect with your brand more, so that piece is important to us and is a key element of the brand.

We also have the professional athletes and celebrity integration, which we get authentically. We do have partnerships with a lot of athletes and many are actually investors in the company, but when you see them on TV using our product on the sidelines, that’s all authentic and they aren’t official brand partners for us. 

The last piece is distribution and who we pick on the partnership side. We’re very careful and creative about aligning with other brands that see the vision and act the same way we do as far as communicating great messaging.

How did Hyperice get involved with Esports?

JH: We started to see our professional athletes getting involved with and investing in Esports. So we researched it more and found that the average burnout for a professional gamer is two and a half years compared to three years for an NFL running back.

When we dug in to see why, we found that they had stress in their hands, wrists, lower backs, and necks from sitting for long periods of time doing repetitive motions. Your ability to perform for long periods of time year after year, generates a lot of revenue for professional gamers. We knew we could optimize and enhance their longevity and overall performance.

Then for the recreational gamer, just creating more awareness about health and wellness was meaningful to us. We wanted to be the company that bridges the gap between traditional sports and Esports. We’re trying to change the culture in a positive way and promote health and wellness within the entire Esports industry. And we’re really excited about it. 

What’s next on the roadmap? 

JH: For one, we’re constantly working to innovate and our innovation pipeline is pretty incredible for the next three years. We’re now getting leading scientists and experts from Apple and Tesla coming to us with ideas because they see the traction we’ve had in the space. There’s some really forward thinking stuff ahead.

Another area I’m excited about is our global business. We’ve focused on international markets since 2015 and some of what we’re doing is game-changing. Just teaching people about the products and technology and how they apply in different cultures is really exciting for me and for the company. 

People get so fascinated with the US side of the business, but we think about the other 65 countries Hyperice is in and how meaningful we can be throughout the world in changing the way people move and live, which is exciting for the organization.

What’s your approach to building culture? 

JH: We have an amazing team comprised of hardworking, passionate people. We are very selective in our hiring process. We look for people with a high aptitude for learning, are extremely self motivated, creative, and that can collaborate well.

Our whole internal culture is built on team. It’s not about individual performance, it’s about creating an environment where people want to come to work, collaborate, learn, and get better. More importantly is the competitiveness of the team. We’re not competing internally, but are competitive in being first or best in the market which is definitely one of our strengths.

We’re selective with our international partners as well, partnering with companies that see the vision and can create the same type of marketing and brand exposure. That’s another strength and something we’re going to expand rapidly, bringing on a lot more team members in 2020. 

How do you scale culture as the company grows?

JH: It’s something I personally work on a lot. To be an incredibly cohesive organization we have to make sure our communication and connection points are always in sync. 

As a leader, I’m constantly working to connect each department and create an open format for our team members. We’ve created an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up or sharing their ideas regardless of their specific department. That element of collaboration has really helped us.

And as we expand, a big piece for us is never losing sight of the mission. We want to make sure people see the big picture and understand the impact that Hyperice is having. We could talk all day about revenue and numbers. Beyond that, we’re focused on changing the industry and shifting the way people think about mobility, preparation, warmup, recovery, and body maintenance.

What’s your outlook for Hyperice and the industry?

JH: We feel like the different industries are connecting in a sense. Looking back 3-5 years ago, you had massage therapy and spa, physical therapy, personal training, and sports performance all in very different sectors, and they weren’t communicating.

Now, it’s all starting to connect and you’re getting this blend, which is kind of turning into human optimization. We want to be the technology company that is an integral part of those segments. We can help connect them, creating a better end result because they used our technology and education.

The general wellness industry is just going to continue to grow. It’s going to get better and better. It will become more specialized. And we want to be on the forefront of it.

**Note: Jim’s answers have been edited for brevity and cohesion.

About Jim Huether:

Jim is an Executive Leader with expertise within the health technology and medical industries. After joining HYPERICE in 2014, Jim and Team have landed the company on the Inc. 500 fastest growing company list three times, as well as being named one of the 5 most innovative companies in America.

Prior to joining HYPERICE, Jim was Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Xenith, LLC, a cutting-edge sports health / technology company at the forefront of head injury protection for athlete populations. Jim brings additional Marketing and Finance experience from roles at Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Smith Barney, Citigroup.  Jim received his MBA in Finance and Marketing from Loyola Marymount University.

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