INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: When and why did the Steinberg family launch a startup?
ARIEL NATHAN: Jeff Steinberg has been starting and running his own businesses in Connecticut since the 1980s. One of his recreational pleasures is practicing and teaching Tai Chi at Ying Yang Tai Chi Academy in West Hartford.
Two years ago, Jeff and a few other instructors prepared a plan to expand the enrollment in the school. He found the biggest barriers for acquiring more students were time, cost, and intimidation of practicing in a group. Simultaneously, he noticed that many long-time students had to miss class because of business travel and personal obligations.
Because of the amazing benefits of Tai Chi, Jeff wanted to create a method that would make Tai Chi available to people anywhere any time in just 10 minutes.
The Steinberg Family was perfectly suited to help with the project. We had a family meeting and Ten Minute Tai Chi was born.
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IDH: What role does each family member play in the startup?
AN: Co-Creator with Master Xing is Jeff Steinberg. Jeff has been building and managing his own businesses for more than 35 years. Jeff has also been involved in the martial arts for 30 years and Tai Chi for the last 10. Jeff has run Tai Chi classes for wellness centers for corporations such as ESPN and Jackson Laboratories.
Sarah Steinberg is an innovation engineer at a large urban healthcare provider. She has a degree in Manufacturing Engineering as well as a Master of Business Administration. Sarah holds two patents for medical devices and is an expert in intellectual property as well as strategic marketing.
Tate Steinberg is a professional film maker and photographer. Tate has expertise in camera work, editing, and graphics. Tate’s ability to bring a mood to the workout will result in an enhanced experience.
Bessie Steinberg is a computer engineer with strong skills in web design and app building. Bessie is a big proponent of wellness and brings her skills to bear on our project.
Autumn Fink is a gifted and creative artist with a skill for taking our concept and bringing to life artistic works that evoke the spirit of Tai Chi.
IDH: What role does Black Label Innovation play in helping to launch the startup?
AN: Black Label Innovation is supporting the launch of Ten Minute Tai Chi through digital marketing. We have partnered with the Ten Minute Tai Chi team as they start their new venture to be the digital marketing extension of their team. Black Label Innovation is continually learning about their business to effectively spread the word through social media and other communication-based platforms on both local and national fronts.
IDH: How was the business concept developed?
JEFF STEINBERG: We wanted to create a vehicle for teaching and encouraging the practice of Tai Chi that didn’t look like the typical workout product. Our goal was to build an educational, user-friendly, digital product we could produce and sell for $5 to $15.
We also will have an app to accompany this digital product that would make this workout portable and easy to use. Also, we wanted to use a methodology that would be easily expandable for future products.
IDH: What it’s like to be an entrepreneur?
JS: Being a successful entrepreneur is like having two personalities. The introvert has to spend a lot of time in their own head conceptualizing and planning. It takes a lot of time and there is no schedule. Once the concept is mapped out, the extrovert comes out to pitch, sell, and collaborate to put the concept in motion.
IDH: How will this product generate income?
JS: We will initially sell downloads, DVDs, and memory sticks of the workout. There will be a store of accessories available for sale and future material is being developed for additional digital workouts.
We hope to attract health-conscious individuals as well as large corporate users, self-insured groups, and medical provider groups. Healthy, happy people are less expensive to insure and have lower absenteeism.
IDH: How are you marketing/building a customer base?
AN: We are using social media and digital marketing to create brand awareness and spread the word about Ten Minute Tai Chi.
IDH: What’s the biggest challenge your startup has faced?
JS: Trying to create a product that is fun, inexpensive, and has value.
IDH: What’s the best thing about launching a startup in Connecticut?
JS: Connecticut has a very educated and socially conscious population. The quality of life is high and resources are plentiful. This is a great place to do business.