What happens when you can’t agree to terms with Mark Cuban?
That was the million-dollar question last spring when the co-founders of Rockville-based Nexercise Inc. and creators of its Sworkit fitness app walked away from a deal with the “Shark Tank” investor and billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. It meant the entrepreneurs would proceed without Cuban’s partnership and original offer: $1.5 million for 10 percent ownership of the business, plus $1.5 million worth of the app’s unsold ad inventory.
Now more than a year later, the answer to the question has become clearer, and the founders are executing their new plan: to expand Sworkit — a mobile and web platform that offers customizable video workouts — as they eye an entirely new customer base: patients going through rehab.
Nexercise CEO Ben Young and his team are working with doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors to add rehabilitation exercises to their product in hopes of ultimately replacing hard-copy paper instructions patients receive. They hope to integrate those programs by 2018.
“I think the rehab space is going to be really big,” Young said. “We’re really looking at a broader scope because the problem is, when you think about the industry, most of the stuff out there is just solely focused on losing weight and it’s not really personal to somebody.”
The Sworkit platform, now a subscription service with a limited free version, has also added new routines like kickboxing, to have “content that always feels fresh,” Young said. In addition to its web-based app, the company is beta-testing on Apple TV’s system. A subscription now costs $7.99 per month or $59.99 for a year.
Nexercise made more than $1 million in 2016, with about 80 percent of that from Sworkit, according to Young. He expects the business, which he said is profitable, to more than double that revenue this year.
The Sworkit creators initially held off on hiring in the wake of the “Shark Tank” fervor — they’d lost the Cuban capital but started getting interest from other potential investors. The company has since grown to seven employees and four contractors. It’s not actively seeking investors or more money at this time, though it would consider that option if the right deal came along, Young said.
The business is also exploring marketing opportunities and content partnerships — perhaps tapping fitness celebrities to serve as Sworkit trainers or teaming up with physical therapy organizations to help promote the service.