Employees and employers are both starting to take notice. In recent years, we’ve seen dramatic increases in the number of alternative workspaces: desks with adjustable heights, exercise balls for chairs, standing desks (and chair-less conference rooms), and even the holy grail of them all — treadmill desks.
There are literally millions of office desks in the US and all around the world that will be replaced with more “healthy” models. Understanding the long-term health risks of a sedentary environment, workers will begin to demand it, and employers will need to make the investment to attract and retain the best talent.
In the coming decade there is a HUGE opportunity for a motivated entrepreneur to step in front and ride this wave. Remember, “find a parade and get in front of it?” Well I sincerely believe this is going to be one giant parade.
Even if you only manage to capture a tiny fraction of the market, the office furniture business is a huge one, and it’s ripe for some serious disruption.
A treadmill desk, if you’re not familiar with the contraption, is simply a tall desk that stands over a treadmill. This way, workers can walk at a slow pace while they work. Of course it also works in “off” mode as a standing desk for when people get tired of walking.
I wouldn’t try and manufacture the treadmills yourself, but rather find a reliable existing model and look for either an adjustable desk you can customize around it, or have the desk portion manufactured.
One modification that will likely be necessary to the treadmill is some sort of noise dampener.
I built mine over a year ago (and absolutely love it!), but it is noisy. Both the treadmill and desk were acquired on the cheap on craigslist. The motor casing is just cheap plastic; I think with a little foam or other noise insulation it would run much quieter.
The benefit of sourcing from an existing supplier is you don’t have to worry so much about maintenance or warranty issues — done right, customers can be covered under the manufacturer’s product warranty.
And of course there’s the additional profit center opportunity of selling extended warranty plans for each treadmill.
The treadmill desk idea has been around for a few years, but many entries in the marketplace are very expensive. Like $2000 and up!
At the other end of the spectrum are the hacked together DIY-jobs that are potentially unstable and loud, especially for an office environment.
An opportunity exists for a quality product with a middle-of-the-road price point. Do you think you can build and deliver that product to world full of unhealthy office furniture?
Begin researching the marketplace. How are office furniture sales typically made? Who are the decision makers? Make some calls and find out. Imagine landing an entire floor of an office, or an entire call center or complex as a client.
Find a suitable treadmill manufacturer. Inquire about volume discounts or wholesale pricing.
Do the same for the desks.
OK as I’m writing this the more and more I think this could really be a viable venture with a giant market. Anybody interested in checking it out and testing the waters?