Catching Up with Our 2017 Winners – W8X

Meet W8X, a 2017 alum and $50K winner that creates the enables strength training powered by robotics.

Helping athletes get the most out of their workouts, the team has developed a training system that automatically changes resistance to adapt to a user's needs. Controlled through an app, the system also tracks metrics and provides valuable feedback to ensure athletes are getting the most effective and engaging workouts.

We had a chance to catch up with Felix Huettenbach, President, about his experience going through the MC accelerator:


Take us back to MassChallenge Awards... what was going through your mind when you heard your startup name called to the stage?
I didn’t listen to John Harthorne’s advice to eat before the event, so right after my pitch I asked the backstage crew if I could have a bite. I just put a huge piece of roast beef in my mouth when I heard "Congratulations to W8X!!!” I didn’t have time to think – I was busy trying to swallow everything I could while running back on stage.

As a winner, how do you plan to use the cash prize to further accelerate growth?
We’re building a hardware startup, so no matter how lean we keep it, we have significant cost in the product development stage. The money will be used to pay our MIT interns and build our first product.

What would you say has been the key driver of your success throughout the program?
I think both you and your team need to be driven. MC isn’t necessarily about running faster, it’s about running smarter. While we were trying to get as much done as possible, the mentors and advisors made sure we weren’t getting off track.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn?
You can’t short-circuit product development, especially not in mechatronics.

What advice do you have for startups thinking about applying to MC?
When we applied, we worked our asses off to develop a prototype and talk to customers, rather than worrying about the pitch. When we presented, the judges could feel how driven we were and recognized how much we had accomplished in such a short amount of time.

By the time we reached judging, we pushed ourselves to have a working demo of our robotic fitness equipment… even though it meant showing up late, sweaty, and wearing sports clothes. My advice? Focus on bringing your idea to life instead of focusing solely on preparing decks. If MC is the right thing for your business, it will happen.