Article Published: December 22, 2014
Article Published: December 22, 2014
What do you give a 17-year-old newborn? … A fresh jolt of creative energy and a raft of unique client services, of course.
Just ask Darrin Grove, CEO of Truefit.
“It’s been a great year for us, a story of reinvention and relaunch,” Grove explained. “We really see ourselves as a new company.”
And what, after 17 solid years of performance, could have led Truefit to this enthusiastic epiphany? Nothing less than the May 2013 acquisition of Gist Design, a Pittsburgh-based design and research firm. With the people, perspective, pop and pep of Gist on board, Truefit’s suite of services exploded in new ways that today represents a comprehensive take on its core mission to increase confidence and minimize risk for entrepreneurs at every stage of innovation.
“We realized we had a brand-new expression of what we were doing,” said Grove. “So we restructured our teams to create a full-service, cross-functional process to support our clients’ new products.”
The Truefit process begins with great design, supported by a thorough understanding of the client’s strategy—making sure the Truefit solution solves the right problem for the client, in other words. And to do that, in a major benefit from the Gist acquisition, Truefit now brings a new research team to the table.
“Serving our clients means we need to interact with real users, and our research teams now permit us to do that,” Grove noted. “Learning how a new product will create value for that user remains a vitally important consideration. With that information in hand, our engineering team sees whether the ideas the research team uncovers can be built within the client’s budget. Design closes the loop.
“Since we’re focused on creation of new breakthrough products, we need three key ingredients to go from idea to product. Gist accelerated the path we were already on. Now research, engineering, and design are truly integrated, not functioning as three separate departments. These three capabilities are working together.”
Two examples illustrate the value of this approach. In the first, Truefit client company Precor—a maker of fitness equipment—wanted to explore how data collection capabilities on its treadmills could connect to the cloud. Truefit researchers knew the issues ran deeper than that, and moved to better understand the customer experience by investigating those customers’ needs, including different segments of users, even those most likely to give up on their fitness regimens. Based on that research, Truefit created a new design for the on-board console to track fitness goals on Precor treadmills, as well as a new mobile app, to keep pace with customers as they pursue any fitness activities, such as outdoor walks.
“This solution extended Precor’s relationship with its clients, and deepened the connection of its brand across the larger fitness landscape through handheld devices, mobile, and web applications,” Grove said.
The second customer example, Diamond Kinetics, makes sensors for baseball bats to track a player’s swing and improve performance. Truefit followed its proven method of researching the deeper needs of customers—including players, coaches, and physical trainers—to develop the most powerful and high-value mobile application that accepts data from the bat’s sensor, and sends back analyzed results to improve safety, power, and performance.
“Taking information and helping to make it useful and actionable for our customers’ end-users—that’s where we like to play,” said Grove. “It’s all about reducing risk and validating assumptions, by blending the ideas of our clients with the creativity of our team—only after gaining a clear understanding of what the clients’ customers are after.”