Curtis Kennedy, in his own words, is kind of weird guy. He loves hanging out with friends, learning about new problems, and inventing solutions for them. However, although as CEO of Vertiball he has seen a lot of success, he didn’t out start this way.
Curtis started his career during his undergraduate engineering degree, after failing first year physics and taking a look at the bigger picture.
“I realized that it creates a lot of new opportunity,” Curtis says. There would be no better time to start a business. I thought for two reasons: one, there are so many smart people all the time willing to share their insights…; and secondly, it’s four years of time where I was not expected to have a job and a salary.”
This is when he started looking at two things: What problems could he solve, and what problems does he have? To him, the best possible solutions come from the problems that you personally feel. That is where Vertiball was formed.
Vertiball is a muscle care device that uses an industrial suction cup to attach to a wall and give you the maneuverability to massage the right parts of the body. Curtis has struggled with Back and muscle pain for much of his life, and this problem was one that he could empathize with and passionately create a solution.
When Curtis joined the Summer Institute, he had been working on the design of the product and had gone through over 200 iterations to make a product that people would want. By the end of the program, he had made a modular program that leaves room for continued design and utility from the user.
The next step was being able to mass produce them.
Moving to mass production, Curtis was cautious with his intellectual property. However, as he explains, he learned that it was something that he needed to worry about. “I had a lot of those concerns [about protecting my IP], and still have them today. But, at the end of the day, if the product that you are working on now doesn’t exist, a company overseas is not going to make it unless the product market already exists,” says Curtis. He looked across China and found some of the best producers in the Country. To get the best deal, he started asking for different amounts and samples to get an idea about what the best factory would be. Additionally, he gauged which of the factories had the best English skills to make the process easier on himself.
After receiving the first batch of products in 2019, Curtis was able to sell an generate a revenue of over $2M. Up until this point, Curtis had been gaining funds through pitch competitions, grants, and leveraging in addition to this own revenue. To expand his operation Curtis knew that he was going to need more capital. This is where Dragon’s Den came in.
“This was not my first time pitching to Dragon’s Den,” Says Curtis. “It was actually my third time, and we finally got the chance to pitch for the Dragons.” They ended up getting a deal for $420K for 16.3% of the company. “It was a pretty cool experience, and I’ve learned a lot about legal documents.”
So, what’s next for Curtis and Vertiball? On top of new attachments and a applicator for muscle treatment, Vertiball is changing to Symbodi Labs ltd. They’re turning into a company that does more than just muscle care devices. Working on software, wearable technology, and so much more to add value to their products.