An engineer by trade, Kresten Juel Jensen co-founded Motosumo with a small group of like-minded mathematicians and astrophysicists. Together, they believed that fun, friends, and personal fulfillment should be at the heart of fitness. With the goal to challenge the industry’s biggest players by making anywhere, interactive fitness more accessible, Kresten and team built the only app in the world that uses motion sensors inside smartphones to generate training metrics on stationary bikes, providing a live, interactive indoor cycling class experience for members to exercise in a global community of riders with a network of world-class instructors.
Outside of the office, Kresten is an avid athlete. A few years ago he completed his first Ironman – a grueling ordeal he’s not sure he wants to repeat. His tenacity, ability to adapt, and mischievous sense of humor all drive his work at Motosumo, as well as his vision to ensure that anyone around the world who is interested in cycling fitness has an accessible entry point with Motosumo.
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Before we begin, our readers are interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to be where you are today or was it something you were led to? Share with us your journey.
Kresten Juel Jensen: As a Dane, I’ve always been involved in sports clubs and community fitness; it’s definitely a big part of our culture. I used to be president of the Copenhagen Triathlon Club, where I observed what fitness means to people, along with how people tend to live healthier, more active lives when they’re having fun and part of a community.
Professionally, I specialized in product development, and after a few years as a research engineer, I co-founded a niche engineering consultancy that specializes in Multiphysics simulation and data analysis called Resolvent. I also studied business, strategy, and innovation at INSEAD.
I wanted to explore a business venture that combines my life’s passions and professional experience. With my close friends and colleagues, we made this business a reality when we created our fitness-tech startup, Motosumo.
Tell us a bit about your current focus. What is the most important thing that you’re working on and how do you plan on doing it?
Kresten Juel Jensen: The most important thing is the impact that fitness has on people, and what it does for them, mentally, physically, and emotionally. With our solid app foundation in place, we now work toward improving the overall member experience, which is what keeps me up at night and what excites me every morning.
We are taking a bold step into becoming a global leader in the live class experience, along with expanding class offerings to fit the needs of our members. Early in the new year, we will have 300 monthly live classes – always there to match the need of our members, no matter when or where they want to train. This is what motivates us to keep innovating as we go and grow. Our members tell us they are hooked after three Motosumo classes and, on average, they do more than 10 classes per month after that.
Not many people know, but more often than not, live streams are delayed by 30-60 seconds. We have worked hard to bring it down to less than one second, because the live interaction between our instructors and members is what is truly magic. That’s why we invest so much in pioneering this aspect of the connected fitness experience.
We want our members all over the world to feel that we at Motosumo are ready to workout with them wherever they are, in any time zone. We truly believe that this is the next step for the connected fitness category to stay relevant.
Some argue that punctuality is a strength. Others say punctuality is a weakness. How do you feel about it, please explain.
Kresten Juel Jensen: For me, being prompt is a priority. Punctuality is important in our industry, as it is in many industries serving consumers on a schedule, but it is important to understand that it’s an area of improvement for so many people. Myself included, still… Unfortunately.
How important is having good timing in your line of work and in the industry that your organization operates in?
Kresten Juel Jensen: Timing is important in business and especially in our industry having undergone major changes the last couple of years. We’ve made, what we consider, a bold move in an industry constantly innovating, with new platforms and fitness experiences surfacing for consumers all the time, globally. We decided to build what we believe is the next generation of connected fitness relying on software only.
We have eliminated the brand specific hardware component and trust the high value for users of being in a true live class rather than a recorded one. Feedback and numbers tell us that we have been lucky with our timing in these difficult years.
Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, states “Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing”. Do you agree with this statement? Please answer in as much detail as necessary.
Kresten Juel Jensen: Referring to the above question, timing is indeed everything and crucial in entrepreneurship, but timing must also meet execution. You must be able to execute what people need and what they want (all at the same time!), which makes planning another important part of it.
No matter how much you plan, there will always be factors outside of your control. Even before the pandemic, we planned on evolving our platform to include the home workout experience in our app. When COVID-19 then officially closed gyms and studios, this goal became top priority. Many companies suffered during this time, and so did we, but our head-start in home fitness helped us a lot. Essentially, the pandemic pushed us to evolve our platform to be more unique.
As a leader/entrepreneur/CEO, how do you decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to take a break? How do you time the key moments in your career?
Kresten Juel Jensen: Well, like other entrepreneurs, it’s a struggle for me to decide when to take a break. I’m inclined to put the pedal to the metal more often than not. Together with my team, I try to disrupt a category where the big players can outspend us by billions of dollars but can’t necessarily claim the position we are building in the market. I probably tend to push harder when these openings for a new market position arises.
What does give me pause is seeing numbers confirming that we are on track, as well as member feedback, with an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5 for our new live classes. This tells me that our platform is doing what we’ve intended it to do; lift our members’ moods, provide opportunities for stress relief and achieving personal fitness goals, and more. We have come a long way in a short time, and the positive feedback makes it all worth it, allowing me a chance to refresh and recharge. I don’t necessarily believe you can time the key moments in your career, but you can certainly see opportunities and create the key moments when the time comes.
Branson also states “If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break”. But how do you decide when to take a break?
Kresten Juel Jensen: It does not work the same for everyone, but one way to avoid feeling like you’re going through the motions is to set rules for yourself. Force yourself to only work, say, 40 hours per week. Notice how much you actually get done. You’ll soon find that you prioritize the things that are most important. It helps you become more focused and often rediscover the passion for what you are doing – seeing the bigger picture. It also gives you space to be a regular person. There is more to life than work and you can’t be on top of everything all the time.
Ask almost any entrepreneur that has been doing it – we could all use a break. And because I have great partners and a great team, I’m able to take breaks.
“Timing can be everything when starting up. It can be the difference between building a thriving business and not” How has good timing helped you achieve success in your career or business? Are there any particular examples from your career that you would like to share?
Kresten Juel Jensen: Generally, I feel most of my working career has been about creating “what’s next,” meaning timing is built in as a major factor. This goes for our current work at Motosumo too. We’re working to figure out what the market is truly going to seek and how we can be there in time. And an example of how we’re doing that is with our live classes. We may be ahead of the curve with the ambition to offer the most interactive live classes out there, but we believe, in time, that demand is going to ramp up significantly and we will be there to meet it. That’s the race we’re running; to lead and shape the category to what the consumer participants will want.
“When you’re thinking of starting up, ask yourself: ‘Is the community I want to serve ready for this idea?’ It could make all the difference!” Would you like to add anything to this piece of advice for all the aspiring entrepreneurs?
Kresten Juel Jensen: I don’t think there’s a set recipe for how to build a perfect start-up for your target audience, despite the hundreds of books written on the topic. It depends on a mix of externalities, your own unique set of circumstances and how you approach building your startup for who you want to reach.
The core thing that I can recommend is to “build it to yourself,” following the idea that you should build something you would really want to use yourself. That’s where the passion comes from. Putting yourself in the shoes of the community you want to serve can help you better understand what to build towards, as well as anticipate pain points and areas to innovate and improve. Once you have that motivation, you need to form a great team that understands this view as well, growing the startup and remembering to keep your intended audience’s needs in mind at every step.
COVID forced many businesses to adapt fast, some did so successfully, others failed, it was a lot due to good or poor timing. What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Kresten Juel Jensen: The pandemic’s impact on the fitness industry really made us rethink everything. We quickly pivoted and adapted our app for gyms looking to provide at-home training for their members now that their physical locations had closed. As the lockdowns continued, the next logical step was to build something that could be used directly by people at home looking for a convenient and affordable way to stay healthy and connect with others. And we realized that this fit in well with our vision to make fitness more inclusive and accessible.
The forced shift to at-home workouts during the COVID-19 pandemic was a positive for some who learned new ways to engage their fitness goals from home and found that they could stay on their routine. Others could not wait to get back to the gym. And, of course, there will be many who take a hybrid approach to stay on their fitness routine. We worked to develop Motosumo as an anywhere fitness option. A key lesson, and decision, from this has been not to base our strategy on the circumstances of the pandemic, but more seeing this time as one showing how fitness could also look. Independent of how the pandemic will develop.
Your insight has been incredibly valuable and our readers thank you for your generosity. We do have a couple of other bold questions to ask. What fictional world would you want to start a business in and what would you sell?
Kresten Juel Jensen: If I were to start a business in a fictional world, I would choose to be a Goldsmith in the Middle Age World of Lord of the Rings. In Lord of the Rings, there were a lack of golden rings with everyone chasing after just that one. My Goldsmith business would help fix this business model.
Before we finish things off, we would love to know, when you have some time away from business, what is one hobby that you wish you could spend more time on?
Kresten Juel Jensen: Well, there is a niche sport called Foot Tennis, which I’ve been playing for the past couple of years. This year, my team made it to the World Championships, and I would love to spend a bit more time on the court – it’s a super fun sport. Also, my two boys (four and six years old) enjoy it too. That makes it a double win for me!
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Kresten Juel Jensen for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Kresten Juel Jensen or his company, you can do it through his – Facebook
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