Velites Sport Leans on Community to Help Build Perfect Backpack for CrossFit Athletes
Eight years ago, Matias Hernandez decided to take his double-under troubles into his own hands.
“I couldn’t perform double-unders and at the time I blamed the rope,” said Hernandez, a long-time CrossFit athlete and the founder and CEO of Velites Sport, a company based in Spain best known for their competition jump rope and hand grips, and who is in the process of raising money via the popular crowdfunding company Kickstarter to launch a new product: The Storm Fitness Backpack, the ultimate backpack designed for CrossFit athletes and other fitness enthusiasts. So far the campaign has raised more than USD$150,000.
In hopes of solving his double-under problem, Hernandez, an engineer, bought the supplies for what he thought would be a better jump rope.
“It was a bit thicker than the normal rope, so it made it a little easier to learn double-unders and I brought it to the gym, and it was an immediate success. People started getting their first double-unders,” he explained.
It escalated from there: People at his affiliate in Spain kept asking him to make them a rope. One thing led to another, and pretty soon Hernandez founded Velites Sport in 2015 and began selling the Fire 2.0 competition jump rope worldwide.
In hopes of improving his jump rope even more, and developing superior patented technology, Hernandez launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough revenue to manufacture the new and improved version of his weighted jump rope, Earth 2.0.
It was a huge success: The Kickstarter campaign raised more than half a million dollars, and the rope—the Earth 2.0 Jump Rope—has become his company’s best-selling product. Close behind are their Quad Ultra Hand Grips.
Hernandez credits the CrossFit community’s motivation to get involved in the success of that campaign.
“From the beginning, we have been a company raised by our community. Our investors are also users of the products and box owners, and every time we launch a new product we reach out to them for feedback,” he explained.
Feedback from the community also led to the company’s new Kickstarter backpack campaign.
Hernandez had no intention of developing a backpack, he admitted. Still, when they polled the CrossFit community, it became clear that CrossFit athletes weren’t happy with other gym bag products on the market.
“We were surprised, but people keep asking for a backpack, so here we are one-and-a-half years later about to go to market with one,” he explained.
Hernandez added: “We are always asking for what type of stuff people want. We want to serve the needs of the people and provide solutions. That’s what we have always done.”
Storm: The Ultimate Fitness Backpack
The first big complaint CrossFit athletes fielded to Hernandez, and his team was that their sweaty stuff—from knee sleeves to clothing—smelled up their bags and then their homes.
To solve this problem, the Storm backpack has two interlocking compartments that allow the athlete to isolate their smelly gear in its own water-resistant compartment. There’s also a ventilation system in the backpack to help control odor.
Second, athletes asked for a compartment specifically for their shoes, which the Velites backpack offers.
“Lots of people said they take two pairs of shoes, so there’s an extra shoe compartment so you can bring two pairs of shoes,” Hernandez explained.
Further, the backpack features an additional WOD bag compartment, which attaches to the main backpack via strong magnets. This means it can be easily removed so the athlete can bring the compartment of gear with them into their workout space, and the magnets mean they can stick it on any metal surface for easy access to gear, such as chalk or hand grips, during a training session.
Finally, the backpack also features ergonomic straps making it comfortable to wear, as well as enough space for a 17-inch laptop (especially useful for a coach or those going to work after a workout).
In the future, other accessories will also be available, including a toiletry bag that magnetically clamps to the inside of the main bag, a food and beverage cooler, and a thermally insulated hydration bottle.
Thanking the CrossFit Community
Hernandez said he couldn’t be more thankful for the CrossFit community’s role in allowing him to grow his company to where it is today.
“It’s such a motivated community,” he said.
And in return, he will continue to make it his mission to constantly ask for feedback from the people he serves, and to constantly improve his products to be exactly what his users want and need to maximize their fitness experience, reach their goals and improve as athletes.
“And I think participating in this Kickstarter is a great way to help us define the latest steps of the backpack. It’s a great way to contribute and make the backpack even better,” he said.
The Kickstarter campaign is available to back until November 13th.