Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health & fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jacob Rothman, Co-Founder of Perch, located in Cambridge, MA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Perch is a software-enabled gym device that combines camera vision and machine learning to create connected workouts, aid athletic development, and reduce the risk of injury.

Hardly a foot long and a few inches wide, Perch is a 3D camera that fastens to any weight rack with a couple of Velcro straps. An athlete walks up, logs in to a tablet, and starts lifting. While they raise, the 3D camera tracks their movements. It instantaneously displays essential metrics such as sets, reps, velocity, and power output on the tablet.

Players and coaches can access the data via a web and mobile application after the workout. The data is also stored and saved in Perch's web application to best monitor how to approach future activities.

Today, Perch devices are popping up in more and more weight rooms across the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, and NCAA. Some of the more prominent teams using the technology include the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Maple Leafs, Miami Heat, Georgia Bulldogs Football, and Virginia Men's basketball, among numerous others.

Devices have also been installed at various military bases, fitness and performance facilities, and many high schools and home gyms across the country.

Tell us about yourself

I was playing on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) varsity baseball team when I herniated a disc in my back during a routine workout in the weight room. While recovering from my injury, I started brainstorming ideas for a device that could help athletes strength train more efficiently and safely.

Shortly after that, I teamed up with two other athletes on campus – Nate Rodman and Jordan Lucier – and Perch was founded in 2016. Over the next few years, we spent nights building, designing, and testing different prototypes in MIT's machine shops.

As for what motivates me… Ensuring that all athletes have the opportunity to use our devices to monitor movements during exercise and enhance their motivation, safety, and performance in the weight room – something that fitness technology has to date failed to address.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Founding Perch. With a team of 3 (myself and my two co-founders), we designed, manufactured, and developed all the software needed to market and sell a product to the 2019 College Football National Champion LSU Tigers. In 2021, with a team of six (6), we surpassed $1M in sales after only about 1.5 years of selling, half of which was during a global pandemic.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Building and balancing a fantastic culture while focusing on growth. Our business is growing fast, with extreme demands on every employee. We expect a lot from each of our employees, regardless of their position.

We give them extreme ownership of their area, and our growth results from every one of our employees doing an exceptional job and pushing our company forward. However, we must balance the burnout that comes with this. We need to make sure our employees feel respected and appreciated.

We need to ensure our employees have room to breathe, grow, and develop in areas they want to focus on. Suppose we always look down and concentrate on the next task on the to-do list. In that case, staying aligned on the bigger picture and mission becomes very difficult to ensure our employees stay inspired and motivated to keep pushing.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Study textbooks less and people more. Growing your network, building a passion for people, learning how people work, and having the courage to talk to strangers will take you places.
  2. Sales. Sales. Sales. Everything in life is sales in one form or another. It's about selling a product, yourself, a brand, a feeling, or a vision for the future.
  3. There is no correct answer. Use the information you have available to you. Make a good decision and move on. It's about learning quickly, testing hypotheses, and iterating. Fail fast.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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