Swimming is counted among the most popular activities in the sports arena. As a hobby, it is a therapeutic activity. It does not just engage the muscles but also relieves mental stress. A good swimming session is no less than the practice of meditation.
When pursuing swimming as a sport, the swimmer needs to be well-equipped with the right gear to practice and perform to their utmost potential. One obstacle that swimmers often face while practicing is the ill-fitting goggles, which are one size made for all.
To help swimmers perform better in their sport, THEMAGIC5 came up with the idea of customized swimming goggles. With the help of modern technology, THEMAGIC5 designs and manufactures goggles that have slick designs and are tailor-made to uniquely fit each swimming enthusiast.
In the following interview, Rasmus Barfred, the Co-Founder of THEMAGIC5, tells us how he, along with his co-founders, commenced on a journey of making swimming a better experience for innumerable athletes around the world.
Following are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our audience about THEMAGIC5, its USPs, and how you change swimmers’ experience through your tailor-made swim goggles.
THEMAGIC5 is the world’s first custom-fit swim goggle company. Every swimmer, professional athlete, or recreational pool-goer has the same complaints about their goggles. We aim to eliminate the distractions of a poorly fitting pair of goggles- so that people can better enjoy the introspective, immersive nature of swimming.
Through an app-based facial scan, we create an individualized fit for each person who orders goggles and can adapt the fit further, if needed, based on customer feedback. Each goggle produced is tailored to the specific customer, and our data which is based on +40000 customers, has allowed us to develop a fitting so precise that we only refund 1% of our orders based on fit issues.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on the impact of the adoption of modern technologies such as AI and machine learning on the sporting goods niche, and what more could be expected in the future?
We have seen for years that athletes and active-minded people are drawn toward high-tech products with the popularity of wearable activity trackers and the rise of fitness programming apps. People are using technology to gather information and to personalize their fitness routines, and it’s natural that they would expect personalized equipment to streamline that experience as well.
Next Wave of Customization:
We expect to see a major shift on the hardware side where more and more products get ‘infused’ with technology, which are not just for tracking, but actually make better functional products. We think ‘customization’ will be redefined to not only mean different sizes, colors, and design, but in a larger extend the fit and functionality of the technology that simply leads to higher performing products.
A compelling side effect of this is the sustainable angle: for swimming goggles, for instance, the attitude has been that you need to go through several goggles to find the least bad, which means you are wasting a lot of products on the way, with THEAMGIC5 you get the right product the very first time.
Considering the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face and how did you drive your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
COVID-19 had a massive impact on the swimming sports market. All pools were closed for the most part of the year, and in that environment, you cannot sell a lot of goggles. So as soon as COVID-19 hit, we made a significant effort to donate swimming goggles as alternative PPE to healthcare workers in NYC.
We organized a campaign that enabled us to donate more than 600 goggles; this was an effort that made sense on a deeper level. It took a lot of manpower, but it was all worth it!
Aside from our production office in Charlotte, North Carolina, our entire company has always worked remotely. The three THEMAGIC5 co-founders live in NYC, Charlotte, and Copenhagen, so even before the pandemic, our team was experienced in working efficiently from home. Our company culture has always encouraged the independence and flexibility that working remotely promotes.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the sporting goods space?
Have someone on the team who really understands the product category to the bone! No chance we would have developed such a high-performing and highly rated product if Niklas (Co-founder who’s a pro-swimmer) hadn’t been on our founding team.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2021?
Our customers really love the goggles that we produce, and our customer base has grown exponentially in the past year, helping our production team to triple in size in the past few months. We don’t plan to expand our offerings outside swimming goggles in the near future. We are very proud of the technology that we have and of the uniqueness of our custom-fit product.
We see an excellent traction in the biggest segments like Recreational swimmers, triathletes, and competitive swimmers, but we have just scratched the surface in the market. So, when we see that the growth has slowed down, we will dive deeper into other markets where our technology will be a real differentiator.
About the Pioneers
THEMAGIC5 was founded by Rasmus Barfred, Niklas Hedegaard & Bo Haaber in 2017.
Rasmus Barfred heads all customer facing activities- branding, marketing, sales, partnerships, and customer success. Prior to THEMAGIC5, Rasmus worked at a few larger corporations within strategy and mergers & acquisitions. He also worked with co-founder Bo Haaber at nrgX, a Danish trading platform serving the Utility industry.
Niklas Hedegaard: When Niklas started with THEMAGIC5, he was a professional swimmer at the Danish national team. He has spent most of his time over the past 4 years perfecting our fitting algorithm and making sure that our technology works for all types of faces and for all types of swimmers; recreational, triathlete, master swimmer and professional swimmers.
Bo Haaber: Engineer in the team with vast management and business development experience. Spent close to 20 years with IBM, later working in various managerial positions with major Danish software providers. In between corporate roles, Bo has co-founded other startups, including nrgX Aps, together with Rasmus.
Matt Grevers, investor, Olympic Gold Medalist Swimming – “To find goggles that fit perfectly, it checks a box of relief for you. That’s what really drew me to THEMAGIC5: there’s no tinkering around or adjustments. The way you get it is the best way. It fits on you and that’s because it’s scanned to your face.”
Jan Frodeno, investor, Olympic Gold Medalist Triathlon and 3x Ironman World Champion – “I was intrigued by the concept and have been amazed by how the product lives up to its promises,” Frodeno says. “A lot of other brands claim a perfect or premium fit, but they’re all one-size-fits-all. These goggles are different. They are custom-made, and that means they actually fit you.”