Aaron McRann, Founder and CEO of Bear Blocks speaks to us about a revolutionary bodyweight fitness device that protects your wrists and maximizes the focus on your muscles.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aaron McRann: We are all doing well. Fortunately, nobody in our family has been sick, and we are definitely looking forward to normal life!!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bear Blocks.
Aaron McRann: I’ve been in business management my whole career after graduating with a Commerce degree years ago. I have run several other small side hustles, focusing on testing and learning technology to create some passive income. Bear Blocks is the biggest business I’ve started, and it all came from a dream. I woke up one morning with the shape clearly laid out in my mind, and I just felt it would work. I built a 3D model, then a prototype that I tested with medical professionals in my community.
How does Bear Blocks innovate?
Aaron McRann: Our goal is to solve customer problems and provide solutions that are effective, simple, and safe. The original Bear Blocks design was based on this when I was the only “customer.” Now that we have many thousands of customers, we absolutely love to get feedback from our clients about creative ways they’re using Bear Blocks and even suggestions on improvements and accessories. The customer’s needs are at the center of our innovation strategy. With that in mind, we look for simple and elegant solutions.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Aaron McRann: We launched the business in January 2020 at the LA FitExpo and left with many contacts for gyms, retail and retail marketing services. Ecommerce was always going to be a primary channel, but we felt retail was our big opportunity. COVID changed all that, of course, and one of the side effects of lockdowns was people focusing on home fitness. I think this really helped us reach an interested audience and the elimination of retail as an option helped us focus on optimizing our eCommerce strategy.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Aaron McRann: We were small going into the pandemic, but we did have to cut ties with our marketing agency and find an agency that was more effective in the eCommerce realm. My biggest lesson learned is to make faster and more precise decisions whenever possible. My gut told me what to do, but the uncertainty of it all left me overthinking a bit, and I think we lost momentum for a while.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Aaron McRann: The most important management skills, in my opinion, are the ability to find the right people and the ability to empower them to do what they do best. These are skills I’ve been cultivating for years, and I feel blessed to have a great team supporting our company. In terms of software tools, we use Asana, ActiveCampaign, Woocommerce/WordPress, later, and, of course, video conferencing (all of them).
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Aaron McRann: Our biggest “name brand” competitor would be Perfect Pushups, although Bear Blocks can be used for far more than pushups. Perfect Pushups are also focused on maximizing gains from the pushup exercise to kind of “shortcut” the process. Bear Blocks are focused on helping you exercise over the long term by optimizing your form and avoiding injury. Making the exercise comfortable and pain-free means you’ll be more willing to do it, and that leads to amazing fitness over the long term! The best way for us to stay ahead in our niche is to listen to our customers and to continue focusing on the belief that you can improve gains and overall fitness while at the same time keeping the exercises pain-free and safe.
Your final thoughts?
Aaron McRann: A lot of people talk about being an “accidental entrepreneur,” but in my case, I’m an “accidental inventor.” I’ve always known that business is “my thing” and feel very fortunate to have come upon this amazing product. Obviously, we start businesses to make money, but I have to say that the incredible stories I hear from customers provide the most motivation! I’ve had customers sending messages saying that Bear Blocks changed their life or brought them to tears (of happiness). The fact that Bear Blocks might allow someone to return to a yoga practice they love after being forced to stop from injury… that’s an incredible thing.
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