Play Your Way to Health
By Michelle Valigursky
When passion runs deep, an Emory entrepreneur is born. For Eddie Kovel 13B, staying active – and having fun - became his life’s work.
As the founder and CEO of Playout he’s turned that passion for healthy fun into a growing business that’s changing lives. The company’s Kickstarter campaign surpassed its goal and was successfully funded on October 25. Now, with first-round funding to augment his bootstrapped start-up capital, Kovel is poised for start-up success.
So how did Playout emerge? As a busy Emory student Kovel conceptualized Playout: The Game based on a single guiding principle. “Everyone wants to be fit, but few of us enjoy the process of getting there. Playout is based on the idea that we can achieve the results we’ve always wanted if we enjoy the process. Exercise is meant to be fun.”
Kovel conceptualized a better way for people to exercise. Inspired by the entrepreneurial leadership of Goizueta Business School’s Senior Associate Dean Andrea Hershatter and other mentors, his single idea became the foundation for a new type of fitness business. “People have always loved sports and games,” Kovel realized. “I used that appreciation to revolutionize exercise. Playout cards offer a pocket-sized solution for a portable – and fun - exercise routine.” Putting his passions for card games and exercise together, Eddie created Playout: The Game, an exercise card game that makes fitness fun, convenient, and effective.
Building a team to bring Kovel’s vision to life took top priority. Working with a designer to achieve simple yet bold graphics for the playing cards, lively figure drawings now demonstrate poses and techniques for game play. Kovel also brought on Emory All-stars like Sarah Fisher 15B 15C for communications, brand image, and customer facing material, Jonah Kupperstock 12B, for design and business development, and Matt Schwartz 13C (Schwartfilmz) for videography and film production.
To encourage digital engagement, Kovel hired technology developer Alex Mann to design a custom free mobile app that includes a stopwatch, timer, achievements, score keeping, and game rules. Soon to be available in both free and paid versions, the free app includes “updates from the app store that keep the game fresh with new achievements and new rules for different gameplay modes.” The Kickstarter campaign gave Kovel and his team the funding to develop the premium app into a fully functioning social platform for exercise gaming amongst friends, families, classmates, and teammates. Kovel says, “Think Words With Friends, except with exercise challenges and competitions.”
For family night and pros, too
From school-aged children in Nepal to traveling businesspeople with no gym access, the audience for Playout is as diverse as body type. No equipment is required.
“Playout is as much a social game as it is an exercise regimen,” Kovel explains. Designed for solo or group play, the game is USA-made and distributed.
During product testing through classes on Emory’s campus, with middle schoolers in Massachusetts, and with community groups around the country, Kovel has been “constantly surprised and inspired by new exercise combinations, modifications, gameplay modes, players pushing themselves past their self-imposed limits, and the results.”
Dez White is a big Playout fan. As a former NFL wide receiver and current personal trainer, president and founder of The Body Firm boot camps and fitness groups, White understands the value of exercise and appreciates the portability of Playout decks.
On a professional level, White praises the Playout concept. “For fitness professionals and personal trainers, it is a great opportunity to introduce game play into your workouts,” he says, noting that participants focus on playing a game rather than on the exercises themselves. Even so, Playout allows individuals to “time yourself on various levels and engage in team relays.”
Perhaps the greatest hindrance to consistent exercise is boredom. “People stop workouts because they become mundane,” says White. He praises Playout’s versatility. “You never have to worry about growing bored with your workout because you always have something new to do.”
For Kovel, White’s enthusiastic recommendation is especially meaningful. “Exercise was never meant to be a chore,” he shares. “No matter how old you are, we all share one important thing. Everyone loves to play. And playing is the key to staying in shape.”
Editor’s note: To learn more about Playout or to purchase your deck visit the company website.