The Treadmill Desk Revolution


Study after study after study keeps coming out with new findings about how bad sitting is for you.

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.

treadmill desk 5The Opportunity

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.

The Product

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 Competition

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?

Next Steps

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?

Business Ideas: From the Weird and Wacky to the Wildly Successful

People come up with business ideas and inventions all the time. Some are life-changing, for instance, where would we be without the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?

But others not so much. If you need more convincing just check out the hit entrepreneurial TV show, Shark Tank.

If you haven’t seen it, it works like this: someone has a business idea but lacks the money, so they have to convince a panel of successful and wealthy business experts to invest in the idea.

Amongst those that didn’t win any investment were beer flavored ice cream and doggie treat tins. In the UK version of Shark Tank, called Dragons’ Den, one inventor came up with the DriveSafe Glove. In terms of how it worked, it wasn’t too difficult: it was a single glove which the driver put on the right hand to serve as a reminder when travelling abroad to drive on the right-hand side.

There’s also been cardboard beach furniture and edible greeting cards for pet pooches.  This invention was called Greet Me Eat Me – and it did exactly what it said on the tin. Pet owners would send edible card to their fluffy friends whereupon the dog could eat it.

And then there’s SuperKnees. They look a bit like roller-skates but are strapped to your knees. Why would you want to do that? Well, inventor Stipan Saulich reckons they increase work potential and reduce knee stress as well as being time saving devices.

But if you’re looking to make more money, without the hassle of coming up with an invention, then it might be worth considering working for yourself. This could involve retraining, for example learning a trade or skill, both of which are ear-marked as areas where there are jobs.

Heading into 2013 who knows what the next big thing is in business. There’s been plenty of chatter about green issues, so could it be something with sustainability. Or perhaps another Apple must-have item. And when it comes to setting up your own business, there’s nothing to hold you back – gender, race or even age.

Take Ashley Qualls. Back in 2004, at the height of the My Space boom, Ashley set up Ashley, who was then 14, tapped into the idea of personalising people’s profiles and teaching coding and graphics design. Her site went onto become a massive success, garnering more traffic than the readership of established teen magazines such as Teen Vogue and Seventeen. And at one stage, it even scored more hits than Such was the draw that Ashley was offered, but declined, $1.5 million plus a car to sell the site.

Another successful teen entrepreneur was Edinburgh-born Fraser Doherty. By 18, Fraser had set up his own jam business, Super Jam. It successfully tapped into the surge in healthy foods, using fruits like cranberries and grape juice instead of sugar. Beginning with trade shows and farmers markets, Fraser, the brand went on to be stocked nationwide in the UK, thanks to a deal with British supermarket chain, Waitrose.

Of course, there are always those other ideas:  those wacky ones which are just that, wacky. And for that we’re still grateful, because you never know where that creative spark will lead. And if we were all the same, the world would be a dull place.