Zami Life Meets The Crowd

Zami life

In ‘X Meets The Crowd’ I talk with entrepreneurs in the middle of their crowdfunding campaign. What’s the story behind their project? What are they looking for in an investor? Why do they think they stand out and what do they offer investors? Find out everything you want to know here, on our HelpTheCrowd Blog.

We all spend a big part of our lives sat down; at work in front of a computer, at home watching tv, and often even in between while driving a car. As a result, more and more people are having back problems. Zami Life has produced a stylish looking stool that not only helps you sit correctly, but also gives you feedback and tips about your sitting behaviour. Time to speak with Age Sluis from the Silicon Valley based company to hear all about this sitting revolution.

HTC. Do you sit on a Zami stool right now?

Age Sluis. Yes, I have replaced my office chair with a Zami stool. Initially I had to get used to it but I’ve noticed that my posture has improved significantly and I no longer have back issues. I used to sit hunched over my computer and phone a lot which caused me pain in my back and neck.

HTC. What’s the story behind the stool?

AS. Zami Life has been founded in the Netherlands, in a village called Oosterbeek. An orthopaedic surgeon named Piet van Loon saw a growing number of people in his practice with bad backs and hamstrings. People nowadays sit a lot; while they’re growing up, but during their working life as well. Because of this we don’t really have any back muscles or hamstrings which leads to back problems starting at a young age.

One of the key points for Piet van Loon was that it’s all about the posture, if your posture is right, your back can improve. Instead of helping people out when they’re already having an issue, he has found a way to improve the act of sitting. So rather than sitting down being bad for you, it becomes a healthy activity.

Together with his neighbour Ruud-Jan Kokke – an award winning designer of chairs – they developed the first Zami. This stool was all about having a good posture; you’re not sitting on your bum but on your sit bones which means you automatically improve the way you sit.

We’ve launched the stool on Indiegogo to test if there was a market for it and it became a big success – more than 400 stools have been sold. The next step will be the development of the Zami Smart. Besides the fact that this stool will of course have the same curves and that it will give you the right posture, it will also send you feedback about the way you sit as well as tips and exercises you can do to keep your back in a good state or to improve it.

HTC. And this feedback will be given via an App, right?

AS. Yes, this will go through an App on the phone. A prototype of the stool is already finished and we’ve got it here in our office. You sit on it, it knows who’s on it, what your weight is, if you’re wobbling etc. We’re now looking into the functionalities people would want the stool to have. This process takes time and money and brings us into the next phase.

One of our main goals is creating awareness around the sitting issue. We’ve seen a general trend of people being concerned about their health, wanting to know what they’re doing and how to prevent certain things from happening, we know this is something that is coming. Tim Cook said last year ‘Sitting is the new cancer’, we think that might be a tad too strong, we tend to say ‘Sitting

is the new smoking’. Anyway, we see that people are very much into their health. This is why we believe the Zami Smart is the product that can make us enter the market big time.

HTC. What is the biggest advantage of being based in Silicon Valley?

AS. The biggest advantage is that Silicon Valley really is a center of innovation. Besides being on top of the latest trends in for example IOT and health tech, it is a melting pot of talented people from all over the world with whom you can work together to be successful.

Because we’re a Dutch company based in Silicon Valley we’ve been thinking wat the next phase would be for us. We’ve had a super good experience with Indiegogo, not just from a sales perspective but also because of the huge exposure we’ve gained from it. This is why we wanted to try and do the same thing with Symbid in the Netherlands. Equity crowdfunding is of course very different, more businesslike so to speak, which is always a bit of an experiment I think. For us there are two main goals – naturally we want to raise money to finance our continuous development, and besides that we think of it as a platform to gain attention and to put ourselves out there. It’s a good way of testing yourself in the market. So far, we’ve already had some good press exposure coming out of it, which simply wouldn’t have been possible to achieve otherwise.

HTC. Given the potential of the Zami stools in terms of preventing back problems, are you talking with parties such as health insurance companies?

AS. At the moment these talks are mainly in an orientating stage, but we definitely see room for collaboration with health insurance companies and employers in the future. There has been a shift towards prevention within the health sector and that’s exactly what Zami was meant for. The fact that we’re offering a solution for an increasing social problem and that we’re having an unique product makes us feel confident about the future of Zami Life.

HTC. What role do you see for Zami Life in the next years?

AS. We’re expecting a big increase in demand from medical professionals and consumers for products that prevent back problems in the next few years. Therefore we’re anticipating a strong growth in sales of Zami stools. At the same time we’re developing a Smart version that can help people improve their back issues by sending them personalised exercises via an App. The Smart stool and the data generated with it can also be used as support during the treatment of back problems by medical professionals.

HTC. What do you think is the biggest difference between US investors and Dutch investors?

AS. In terms of crowdfunding we see that US investors are much more impulsive and immediately captured by the massive new market that Zami Life is going to conquer. Dutch investors tend to have a more critical basic attitude and pay more attention to the company and the product itself.

HTC. Investors become shareholder in Zami Life. Are you looking for a certain involvement from investors?

AS. Zami is solving a big social problem and we’d like to see our investors as ambassadors of our message. Our message being – too much sitting is having a negative impact on your health, and we can resolve this by sitting ‘correctly’. Investors can help us by spreading this message, by introducing us to potential business partners, and by giving us feedback about how we can make the company grow in the next couple of years.

HTC. Where has the crowdfunding platform really been helpful in the run-up to your crowdfunding campaign?

AS. Symbid has helped us massively with the finetuning of our pitch. The crowdfunding campaign in itself has offered us huge PR which we would have never gotten without it.

HTC. Is there going to be a customised Zami stool as an investor perk?

AS. Yes, for investments above 2 000 euros you’ll get your own Zami stool as a perk, and for investments above 10 000 euros you’ll get 5 Zami stools to use in the office or at home.

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