We had the good fortune of connecting with Joshua Hsu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joshua, how do you think about risk?
Before I talk about risk, I need to talk about fear.
Fear is a strong driver in much of our lives. It tends to drive us away from the unknown and can take many forms.
For example, if you’re a student who studied X major. You may be wary about jumping into another field or something adjacent. Or if you’re comfortable with a particular worldview, you may be less inclined to find flaws in the logic for an existential fear of changing your Self.
Therein lies the risk. Risk, in my mind, is a fear-driven construct. It’s helpful when used to *signal* the complexity/gravity of a particular situation, specifically as a measure of ambiguity or unknowns with respect to your own perspective.
So personally, I view the level of risk of a particular initiative/decision/project as a function of three different areas:
A). Knowledge: how much knowledge do I have to learn (estimated in hours). And do have resources (friends, mentors, prior knowledge) that can accelerate this process?
B). Timeframe: within what amount of timeframe does that knowledge need to be applied.
C). Delegation: should I be the one to learn and apply that knowledge? Or can someone in my vicinity perform A or B better than I can?
Any “risky” decision, especially career wise, I think about in those lens. Furthermore, I also consider the long-term benefits as well.
“If I choose to do X, how much better off if I spent 5 years on it? How much would I learn?”
For me, any risky decision and environment is worth it, as long as I’m constantly learning, applying, and working towards something that I consider meaningful and fulfilling.
What should our readers know about your business?
We’re currently working on a system that enables fitness strength coaches to see the insights of their athletes without actually having to be there. The way it works is, we have small motion caption sensors that fit into athletic clothing. Athletes wear this clothing, they press a button, and the trainer gets notified and basically is able to gain access to insights that they would normally have to be in-person to see. An example is monitoring rep counts, the type of exercises the athletes are doing, the type of movement, strength, power, and cadence. All of these things require in person interaction but now they can see this information on their smart phone or web app. Right now, we’re bridging the gap between in person training and remote training to tie everything back together.
This got started from my personal experience with working out. I started exercising in middle school, I was like any young teenager that is trying to be cool, out of some sort of insecurity, it really stemmed from vanity reasons. I kept working out for years after that, then it became more performance based. I began rowing in college and competing on that level. I also dabbled in body building. Unfortunately toward the end of my junior year I was training and I threw out my back. I got a spinal disc herniation because of it. It was due to poor trainers and really my own lack of knowledge. If you’re a self taught athlete, chances are you aren’t training yourself correctly, unless you’re extremely diligent. That injury made me want to figure out why injuries occur. I needed to know what went wrong. I actually found my co-founder through that process of learning and trying to figure out why the fitness space has so many injuries and what needed to be fixed. What we found was shocking.
In the physical health space, there are so many different trainers that think they know how to “train”, and they are probably very effective, but at the same time the process of becoming a trainer is extremely unregulated. Right now, you can pay $60 dollars to go online and get a certification and advertise yourself as a personal trainer. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just the landscape of what’s going on. So, there are personal trainers that are all around, selling people bad things and just increasing the risk of injury. This environment also makes the really incredible trainers look really bad. It becomes an unfortunate arena where people are getting injured and not getting the physical help they need because the trainers are not the most high quality.
Our mission has been trying to figure out how to objectify a new standard of evaluation and of progress. That’s how we came up with this motion capture system. It also helps supplement the great trainers with insight they couldn’t attain on their own. There were a lot of personal stakes involved. My co-founder Max was a strength coach. He got the better certifications in the industry, he worked in a biomechanic research lab. He’s really at the cutting edge of all these assessments, and his mom was a rehabilitative trainer. She worked with physical therapists at a clinic so we got a lot of inspiration from her.
At the end of the day, human movement is freedom. Freedom at it’s core is the ability to move. You see individuals lose the ability to move and you see this more in our modern age. I’m a great example of losing a small part of me that was once able to move. It doesn’t necessarily affect your day to day life per say, but it has long term effects. It’s interesting though because it restricts you from doing certain things. The more severe the movement limitation, the less you’re able to move around. In my mind it’s very sinister, the way our modern life has designed the environment around us and the incentives or lack of incentives to move around. Sitting at a desk 8 hours a day, the food that we eat, all these things work against the ability to perform. For us at Introhm, our tagline is “Perfecting Performance”, we think performance pervades every aspect of our lives and it can be perfected but you need to design the right environment. It’s not about “Just Do It”. We actually hate that tagline, we know it’s a swipe at Nike but it puts all the responsibility on the individual. Individuals need help, there are a lot of things that go into why people don’t work out. It’s not just will power. Most people train not because of their health. There are other variables in their lives that come into play. We don’t want society to continue the way it has been, because for us, the lack of ability to move your body is the equivalent of being chained. Chains on your potential as an individual, chains on the value you can give the people around you that you care about, and it’s sinister because you don’t necessarily notice. The chains are long term that you don’t realize until you’re in your 50’s and say to yourself “I can’t move now.” It’s not that they’re old, that’s a myth, it’s because they designed their life for the last 20 years and the habits they picked up that have caused this debilitation.
Habits are very powerful, and as human beings we are fallible in the sense that we are slaves to our habits. Any solution needs to address those behavioral patterns. For us, we work with trainers not because we think we’re going to make a lot of money. There are plenty of other industries like physical therapy that we can capitalize on, and eventually we will tackle them. The trainers sole job is to reprogram your habits in the fitness space, their entire success is built on this. If they can’t do that, they’re out of a job. So, the more we can help these trainers, the more we can help society fix these broken habits.
Shoutout to Olivia Goulbourne over at Trolyx who wrote this up. She recorded a monologue I gave her during one of our calls together and she did an excellent job at transcribing it. (source: https://trolyx.com/josh-hsu/)
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I’d be working Monday through Sunday. So I probably take them to coffee shops or happy hour places to work.
I would recommend, the Henry, The Canopy, Schmooze, Cartel Coffee, Infusion, & The Grand as possible locations to co-work. Maybe even our startup’s office in downtown since it’s so close to some good eateries.
If they’re in town early in the month, First Friday is a must.
And if we have some more time on Saturday, hands down, Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar over in Old Town Scottsdale.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my co-founder Max.
Still thinking about that time in that random tea shop where you looked me dead in the eye when we first started with our initial capstone student team and you said:
“You know that we’re the only two that’s serious about building this startup, right? It’s going to be you and I that’s all in. Everyone else is just doing this cause it’s cool.”
Whether it’s this company, the next, or anything afterwards, glad to have met you in this life, man.