Launching the Second Generation Set Starter with Eric DeRosa

Set Starter is a wearable exercise interval timer. This startup continues to grow and is ready to start shipping the second generation of their product.

In this interview I get to talk with Eric DeRosa the founder of Set Starter and Darren Witmer a consultant helping him grow.

TROY: I think where I’d love to spend our time is to hear a little about what happened over the last year. Then spend some time talking about Set Starter, the wearable fitness device and what you’ve learned from your customers and your audience that lets Set Starter stand out.

Darren I don’t know if you saw the video that I did. I got a demo unit from Eric and I tried doing a whole number of different things with a kettle bell, pull-ups and other exercises in my garage gym.

I wanted to see what can I do with this thing? And if I was wearing a wrist watch I would have destroyed the thing during the workout. Because of where the kettle bell hits. I just isn’t practical to wear a watch with kettelbells, but it was no problem with the Set Starter

Does that make sense for a landscape for our discussion, Eric.

ERIC: Yes it does. Just some of the feedback to explain a little more of a broad basis. The people that found the Set Starter useful I think was because of the method of use. It was something they could wear and it doesn’t impede your performance. But it does exactly what it was made to do.

It is a timer that allows you stay on task during your training, so that you are really just focusing on your training and not keeping track of time.

So that’s mainly the feedback we get. Its just simple to use and non-obtrusive.

So that’s it in a nutshell. It’s basically just another way to time instead of using your watch, or something you’d wear on your waist. It makes being the athlete and being the timer no longer two people; it lets it be one and the same.

You don’t have to rely on someone else to be the timer for you. You can focus on your training and your intervals at the same time.

TROY: I really like that concept of the athlete and the timer becoming one.

ERIC: Yes. One phrase that Darren shared is that he said this device lets you set it and forget. With this device you just have to set it once and forget it and focus on your training.

TROY: Cool.

You mentioned that the second generation of Set Starter have arrived. Can you talk a little about the updates in this new version?

ERIC: Okay. The first generation you could only program in one timing interval. And then to vary that you could only use the repeat feature.

You could time two intervals in it, but it didn’t make that very user friendly. For example if I wanted to time 30 seconds and then a minute. I would program it for 30 seconds. For 30 seconds I’m waiting for one alert and then for the minute I’d be waiting for two alerts.

And then you know vise-a-versa. That’s convenient when you are looking at one to one ratio, two to one ratio, or even three to one ratio. But if I want to time a minute and then four minutes, or a minute and five minutes it becomes a little tricky.

Because you have to keep track of your alerts.

With the second generation Set Starter you can program in two different time intervals. Anywhere from 10 seconds up to five minutes and if you have it on repeat the intervals will toggle back and forth.

The other change that we made is the intervals that we offer. We’ve included intervals that are from the Tabata and Crossfit family. We’ve added the 10 second interval and the 20 second interval. That’s primarily useful for Tabata training.

Because they train for 20, rest for 10 and repeat.

So when we’re talking about short intervals like that it is really hard to keep track of time, but with Set Starter we believe we’ve made it much easier.

TROY: Yes.

ERIC: So now the intervals that we offer are 10, 15, 20, 30, and 45 seconds and then one through five minutes. So you can still choose to time one interval, but we’ve added the option of adding that second interval.

TROY: Yes, I think that’s going to open up a lot more options for your training. Particularly if your into Tabatas. By the time you are, if you are really truly training at the level and the intensity prescribed by Dr Tabata, by the time you reach the four and fifth interval you’re not thinking straight. When you hear that first alert and let’s say you had it set to 10 seconds, you’re going to think that had to be the second alert, Right?

ALL: (Laughter)

TROY: Good.

Yes, I think that’s going to be very helpful.

ERIC: Yes. The other thing that we’ve changed is we no longer offer the audible alert. We found that people weren’t really relying on it all that much. Plus the speaker had to be so small in the device, so it was very hard to hear.

We don’t offer that. We’re only offering the vibration and the LED alerts. So you definitely feel two quick vibrations on your thumb.

And then the LED alert is easy, you don’t really have to watch it. The main alert will be the vibration feature.

And then whatever interval you’re timing a red LED blinks. While it is timing the LED that’s on the face will blink every second showing which interval is being timed.

So that’s kind of nice because your first time interval that you’ve chosen will flash one time every second at that location. So if you’re at 10 seconds that first LED on the left will flash red every second.

And if you’ve chosen a second interval, say it is two minutes for instance, the green led will flash every second. It is kind of nice if you lose track of where you are at.

TROY: Oh yes. Just at a glance you can see which interval you are on.

ERIC: Right.

Well that second interval we’ve made it give two quick flashes in that second. The first interval is one flash and the second interval is two quick flashes.

TROY: So it’s another way to distinguish it. That’s cool.

When you look at your customer base, have you found any particular niches that have embraced and fallen in love with the Set Starter? What pattern have you seen in your early adopters?

ERIC: With being on the Today Show and Shape magazine the majority of sales have been to women, pretty much of all ages. It has been pretty hard to gauge, because that influenced it quite a bit.

But really I’ve seen that anyone that wants to get more out of their training to be more efficient. So it is anywhere from the casual person who goes two or three times a week to the people who are involved in high intensity interval training. And they are doing a variety of things including Tabata, Crossfit, and things like that.

Because really there are two uses.

At a minimum Set Starter is useful in making your workout more efficient by timing your rest between sets.

But if you’re also using it for interval training your using it for your work and rest. So it kind of appeals to two different users that way.

TROY: Tell me a little more about your hopes and plans for the launch of the second generation.

ERIC: We really want to reach out to a few specific markets. Like when we talked about Tabata training. We want to offer those people an alternative to what they are using to time right now. The same for CrossFit. Another big market that we feel we can help is the run-walk culture with the Galloway program.

So we want to target for those markets. We are reaching out to those people. We are blogging and things like that to make people aware of us.

Darren you might some input on this as well. Darren has really great vision. He’s given me some direction on that. You want to add anything to that.

DARREN: Yes, just a little bit.

The thing that we’ve seen is that the first generation has been sold to consumers. And Eric has gotten quite a bit of interest from multiple distributorship vertical markets. From personal trainer market to retail sports stores to online sports distributors and retailers all the way up and including Dick’s Sporting Goods has expressed interest in the product. We’re in the process of exploring those different markets, and setting up strategic relationships with those distributors and determining which of those markets will bear the most fruit.

TROY: That’s exciting.

Like you said, the first generation one was sold primarily to consumers, now you will get a nice multiplier as you move to different channels. That’s exciting for you guys.

ERIC: The other change that we’ve done to it is that we made changes to the repeat mode. In the first generation you could repeat up to 50 times, but the second generation you can repeat up to 100 times.

So those are the main changes.

TROY: Nice.

DARREN: The only other thing I’d add is just his story. Just how Eric has gone from a small startup kind of business, how he’s gone about it. He’s gotten reviews from LiveStrong to mom and pop type bloggers. But he’s gotten a lot of interest.

The really cool thing is that he has an international audience. How many countries have you shipped to Eric?

ERIC: Twenty countries.

DARREN: Twenty different countries. And the cool thing is that not only has he shipped to them but we’ve gotten a lot of interest. In fact we have had conference calls last week and two coming up next week with distributors from Australia, Switzerland, and the UK.

So the cool thing is that as a small business to being able to get that exposure and build the business. He’s done it the right way, he’s built a really great, unique, innovative product and get it out there over all the different social media platform that gets the message out there.

It started out as a hobby with hopes and dreams but now has some international interest. And hopefully before too long we’ll be distributing through through out Europe, Australia, and who knows where else.

TROY: That is fun on it’s own. It is exciting to hear a story about taking your dreams and passions and build a company out of it. It’s possible bootstrap your ideas and to take your passion and build it, build an international presence using online media because the reach is so far.

ERIC: Yes, Poland was our twentieth country. Yes it will be neat to see where we end up. So I like that.

DARREN: We are going to have to get a map pretty soon to put on your office wall.

ALL: (laughter)

TROY: No kidding. Put pins in the map. Exactly.


ERIC: I don’t’ know if you know about LiveStrong. But unbeknownst to me I heard from an outside source that LiveStrong had listed the top ten health tools for 2014 and we were listed as number three. I can send you that link if you want it.

TROY: Okay, please do.

Learn more about Eric’s product at Set

Source: Troy Pesola from