On March 13, as New York prepared to move indoors to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Mirror founder Brynn Putnam closed the offices of her high-tech fitness startup and sent her nearly 100 employees home. The former ballerina now hunkers down in her Greenwich Village apartment with her husband, Lowell, also an entrepreneur. The couple alternates who gets to be on Zoom from the bedroom and who watches their 3-year-old son, George, in the living room.
The only thing that’s easy: working out. Putnam brought home two of her fitness company’s eponymous interactive Mirrors. One is in the bedroom, the other in the guest bedroom. “If [Lowell] wants to box and I want to do yoga, we can,” says Putnam, 36.
With a market capitalization above $13 billion and a product and marketing campaign that have become a meme, Peloton has emerged as the buzziest fitness company of the coronavirus era. But privately owned Mirror is hot on its heels, with a single advantage Peloton can’t match: compactness. At 22 inches wide, 52 inches high and 1.4 inches deep, Putnam’s product looks and acts like a regular mirror. Turn it on, though, and users see an instructor teaching the class (as well as their own reflection so they can work on form); software provides personalized modifications in the corner of the screen and helps track fitness goals. Members pay $1,495 for the Mirror and an additional $39 a month for access to an array of livestreamed classes including cardio, barre, strength training and yoga in 15-, 30- and 60-minute increments.
“No one had thought about putting a screen into a mirror and having it be a workout platform,” says Kevin Thau, general partner at Spark Capital, one of Putnam’s early investors. “It seems obvious in hindsight, but it wasn’t before.”
Brick-and-mortar gyms and fitness studios are an almost $100 billion business, according to the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association. When Putnam launched the product in September 2018, five years after Peloton first started connecting bikes, she was betting on a gradual, continuing shift toward home fitness. Now with millions of people stuck in their homes and desperate for exercise, she’s riding high, with sales surpassing her already aggressive projections—and a spot on our Next Billion-Dollar Startups list, one of 25 private companies Forbes bets will become unicorns. “We’re seeing Christmas in April,” Putnam says, noting that Mirror’s tens of thousands of members are now working out an average of 15 times a month, up from 10.
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