Why We Backed Balanced, the Joy-Fueled Home Workout Brand for Older Adults
Prior to product-market-fit, visionary and passionate founders create microdoses of the customer delight they seek to deliver at scale. Katie Reed and Kelly Froelich have done this from the start.
When I first encountered Balanced customers, I nearly cried. Balanced is a streaming subscription service offering personalized exercise classes for people over 65. Cofounders Katie Reed and Kelly Froelich started exploring this idea during COVID lockdowns as they were helping their grandparents stay active with facetime workouts. While still holding technical roles at Ro, they experimented with classes at independent living facilities to see if they could recreate the magic they experienced with their family. Each time I interact with Katie and Kelly, I get a turbocharged sense of purpose for their mission to support older adults to age with joy.
I first experienced this type of pre-launch drive and vision when I met the cofounders of Dia&Co, Lydia Gilbert and Nadia Boujarwah. Similarly, it was all about connecting to customers. It was the spring of 2015, and they were gearing up to launch a styling service for plus-sized women. Lydia and Nadia were doing calls with beta customers, taking orders, shopping, assembling boxes, and shipping. Like the founders at Balanced, they couldn’t help but take me up the mountain to see the future they were so determined to create; I felt the significance of the shift they were building by getting on early styling calls and hearing, “Oh my god,” expressions of gratitude. Dia&Co set out to—and continues to—create a world where plus sized women have a deeply human, expressive, and self-love-filled experience of fashion.
The mission for Balanced is simple: Help people over 65 to age with joy through exercise. Balanced believes that older adults need and want a brand-positive, life-affirming, community-building, energy-infusing, connection to how they move their bodies.
And that mission is important. In America, 10,000 people turn 65 every day. This represents a massive opportunity. Too many startups are grounded in the depressing statistics: 77% come to have two chronic conditions; $51 billion is spent each year on falls alone; social isolation is rampant, etc. While true, there is another side: Aging adults are now more likely than ever to use the internet, they exercise frequently, and they view the phase of being a senior as filled with possibility. Katie and Kelly recognize the challenges, but they also know that people don’t keep exercising out of fear. They do it because they love it, because they’re part of a community, and they see that they’re empowered through fitness.
In startups, product-market-fit is not enough. You also need product-market-distribution-fit. You need an efficient way of reaching your customers. And it’s never one thing. Medicare Advantage creates a powerful opportunity for growth for Balanced. Payers are looking for results-based-interventions, and there’s nothing better than exercise for this. The key is that payers need to see engagement, which makes the Balanced strategy—focus on personalized, engaging, joy-filled exercise with a strong brand—smart. It’s not enough for plans to offer exercise solutions to seniors; they need to offer solutions that people use again and again. And MA is growing rapidly as a channel that Balanced can tap. In 2021, MA enrollment is ~26 million, up from half that in 2013. Through customer calls and class observation, it became clear that Balanced resonates and its users stick.
After meeting Katie and Kelly, Primary became a fortunate investor and supported them as they got to work. They enlisted a team of expert advisors who could help them develop joyous exercise routines for seniors and navigate the complexity of Medicare Advantage. They recruited a phenomenal founding team, a brand design partner, and a growth marketing agency. Most importantly, they recruited a set of stellar fitness instructors and began crafting the ideal exercise experience for different types of people. This week Balanced is coming out of private beta. We’re thrilled to be a part of the exciting journey ahead.
Please share this with someone you care about who wants a joyous experience of staying healthy. They can become a member by visiting the Balanced website.