Kirsten Kohlhaw

The questions were asked by Kirsten Kohlhaw, Business Model Coach: www.kirsten-kohlhaw.de

Andreas Pirscher

Interview with Andreas Pirscher, CEO of FlowRow GmbH

Andreas, two years ago you left your career as a senior engineer and created a real product innovation with the FlowRow Board. How did you get the idea to start your own company? 

The starting point was a concrete business idea, namely how I could make indoor rowing training more exciting and attractive for the fitness mainstream. I myself have been an enthusiastic rower for 40 years and used to work part-time as a coach in competitive sports.

In addition, I have been aware of the entrepreneur in me for a very long time. I didn’t listen to him for a long time, and after my studies and doctorate in mechanical engineering, I saw a professional perspective in large companies. It worked out well, after all, I worked in two different large companies for a total of 20 years in management positions (laughs). Those were important years and a great time. But I wasn’t able to live out my entrepreneurial drive there, in what I did. So, the next logical step for me was to develop my idea into a business model and start my own company.

Which experiences from your previous professional career were useful for the start-up and which challenges were new? 

Of course, my previous experience as a sports coach was useful in the context of my own start-up. But business coaching also helped me. Here I did additional training while working and gained a lot of insights that also went into FlowRow’s offering. The fact that I was involved with technological innovations naturally helps me to better understand digital elements and tools and to implement them accordingly in my business model. The years of experience in building and maintaining international business relationships are just as helpful as the fact that I can take on complexity as an athletic challenge and know how to combine it with my life experience.

What I did not have as an employee and what I am learning to deal with anew as a founder is uncertainty. Particularly in the early stages of a start-up, especially when – as is the case with FlowRow – the focus is on product innovation, there are many things that cannot be planned in the conventional sense. That’s not always nice, but it’s also outweighed by the fact that as a founder I can live and work in accordance with my values.

Translating idea sketches into business models, looking at them from a wide variety of perspectives and testing individual assumptions step by step was definitely new territory. This also includes the fact that, as a founder, I of course absolutely believe in “my baby,” but at every moment I naturally want to look at my ideas from the customer’s perspective first. After all, it’s important to me to optimally reflect the actual wishes for a varied, interesting and effective rowing workout through FlowRow.

What exactly is the FlowRow Board – and who is it for?

The FlowRow Board consists of two flexible pedestals that you can buy as an accessory for your rower. We have already developed this accessory for various rowing machines, and it ensures that your rower can move laterally. You thus train your balance skills and deep muscles during your rowing workout. The FlowRow Board comes in different difficulty levels and it makes indoor rowing workouts more exciting and effective for everyone from beginners to competitive athletes.

Why did you also develop an app in addition to the physical product?

The rowing movement is relatively complex and therefore difficult to learn. At the same time, rowing is a rather monotonous sport. Many people underestimate this when they buy a rowing machine and then realize at some point that this sport equipment only serves as a dust collector. The FlowRow App brings variety into the rowing movement, breaks up the monotony and thus, together with the FlowRow Board, brings the rowing machine back from being a dust catcher to a piece of sports equipment.

Our coaching concept is based on natural learning and largely dispenses with instructions. Rowing to the beat of the music plays a central role in the FlowRow workouts. The music is therefore not used as background noise but is a central component of the workout.

Exciting! The training videos I’ve seen from you so far also convey a lot of momentum and fun. What’s next for you?

The FlowRow Board has already found its way into many households and rowing clubs, and the feedback on the product has been very positive so far, which of course makes me really happy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also delayed some projects in my case. As soon as it is possible again, I would like to finally make the FlowRow Board and the FlowRow Workout experienceable in fitness studios.

In addition, more versions of the FlowRow Board are in development for other rowing machines. In addition, there are other additional features that will make the rowing movement even more exciting.

In parallel, we are working on a PaddleFlow, the counterpart to the FlowRow Board for paddle ergometers.

Thank you, Andreas, for the exciting insights! I wish you all the best for your company and hope that you will soon be able to continue unabated.

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