Every week, the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute elects a Startup of the Week (SOTW). We then invite the founders of these startups to share a blog post with our community. These posts can be inspirational, educational, or entertaining. Founders can share founding stories, resources, lessons, or anything else they want.
This blog post was written by Kyle Bergman (Stern '19), founder & Chief Swoverall Officer of The Great Fantastic.
Hey Everybody! Kyle here, Founder & Chief Swoverall Officer of The Great Fantastic. TGF is a digitally native apparel brand focused on creating the world's comfiest products using sustainable resources and ethical manufacturing methods. Our hero product, Swoveralls, combines sweatpants and overalls into one glorious (and incredibly comfy) masterpiece. Functional (6 pockets), super soft (organic cotton & recycled polyester), and available in a handful of colors and unisex sizes...Swoveralls are quite simply the comfiest thing ya never knew you needed.
But WARNING: the majority of this article has nothing to do with sweatpant overalls, or The Great Fantastic.
Similar to a lot of early-stage startup founders, I have a handful of side-hustles in an effort to boot-strap and invest every penny back into the growth of my company. But what do you do when you get laid off from your side-hustles and the world shuts down due to a global pandemic? You start another company of course!
And that's what this story is about.
While I could talk about Swoveralls until the comfy cows come home, I'm going to share a brief story about how, just 3 weeks ago, I turned two recent job losses into my 3rd company (and quickest one to profitability!) called Sweat from Home.
Co-Founders and Instructors Kyle (L) and Brendan (R)
Big fitness guy - While many people within the NYU and greater NYC start-up community know me as Kyle, Chief Swoverall Officer...I have been known to some as Coach Kyle, group fitness instructor for an even longer time. Being able to coach fitness classes at both Orangetheory and Flywheel became an almost spiritual (and certainly cathartic) side-hustle/passion of mine. The highs, lows, trials and tribulations of starting a company are endless, and being able to sweat, blast awesome music, and help individuals achieve their fitness goals allowed me to take a meta-physical break almost on a daily basis from the start-up grind.
COVID Lay-off - In mid-March I was let go from Flywheel and Orangetheory within the same week due to the pandemic. When I was laid off on March 21st from Orangetheory my friend, fellow Orangetheory coach (and now business partner) Brendan texted me the same day and said, "what business are we starting?". That night we created a google spreadsheet (how most businesses start these days I imagine), developed a workout program, and emailed friends, family, and fitness members we had close relationships with. The next day we held our first workout (call it an MVP if you will) via zoom with 20 people in it.
The model is simple - We charge $10 per person and host 60-min live stream workouts. Most workouts we offer are entirely bodyweight-only exercises, and require no more space than the cubic square footage of a yoga mat (yoga mat is optional, but a nice to have). Brendan and I are a part of every workout, with one of us physically doing the exercises along with the group (to allow members to reference proper form), while the other coach is providing encouragement, form cues, and modifications as needed. 10% of the proceeds from each class are donated to a fundraiser focused on helping NYC-based freelancers, contractors, and fitness professionals in need.
Sweat from Home members bringing their puppers in for the cool down/stretch
Sweat from Home
- Since our first class on 3/22, we've held over 30 classes, taught 100+ different members in class, and have donated over $450 to the COVID-19 fundraiser we have partnered with (which you can check out here
I've been unknowingly preparing for this moment...
for a long time. I started my first business back in undergrad with a fellow teammate of mine at the time. The Great Fantastic was created in 2017 right around the time I started at NYU Stern. In between that first business and creating Swoveralls I held various internships, as well as full-time positions as a buyer and planner at Bloomingdale's and Birchbox respectively. In creating Sweat from Home
, I was able to utilize so many skills I acquired along this path: from learning how to do a v-lookup in excel when I was just a fresh-out-of-college assistant buyer at Bloomingdale's...to building my own shopify site for swoveralls.com
- I surprised myself with how many aspects of launching a company I had developed along the way. There were too many mistakes made, concepts learned, and people I’ve met along the way to name them all here, but I have learned something new about myself I'd love to share with you.
The Takeaway - During different points in my life, I have held a different identity. I don't mean identity in the Jason Bourne sense, but more so from the point of view of what I wanted to be recognized as, or for. For the longest time my identity was as a lacrosse player. Playing from the time I was 8 and through college on scholarship, and then for the Israel National team in 4 world championships - even during my professional corporate career I still identified as a lacrosse athlete. Next, I identified as the Swoveralls guy. Being the Chief Swoverall Officer is a ton of fun, and I'm incredibly grateful for the wins (and losses) the brand has had so far. But with this last concept coming to fruition so quickly, and with the utilization of so many skills I picked up along the way... I realized what I really am is an experientialist. Looking back at my entrepreneurial version of the drunkard's walk...my affinity for meeting new people, taking risks, failing often (and if lucky, early) has been empowering, and downright character building in the best way.
Tools used (in no particular order) - Weebly (website builder), mailchimp (email management tool), square, venmo, paypal (payment providers), photoshop (asset creation), google g suite (gmail, spreadsheets, google forms for post-workout feedback surveys), social media (IG/Facebook), and the list goes on.
So, in a time when things may not look too bright, just know that you are in the midst of your own epic quest, and that the path you take is endlessly unfolding. Be kind, and be brave!
Kyle is also an adjunct professor in the Tandon school teaching an undergraduate introduction to supply chain course
PS - If any of this interests you and you'd like to discuss more please feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com
PSS - Still interested in Swoveralls?
We'll be launching more sizes, colors, and new styles (shorts! and youth swoveralls!) within the next couple of months. Follow us on social (IG @swoveralls_) or sign up for our newsletter at www.swoveralls.com
to be the first to know when our product drops occur.
Things are about to get crazy comfy (youth swoveralls, tie-dye swovie shorts!)