Meet Karl Cheung, Co-Founder & CEO of ROJU
Home workouts have become the hottest trend and created new business opportunities during the pandemic. iDendron incubate Karl, a rope jumping world record holder, saw an uptick in demand and decided to start his own company ROJU, an all-in-one jump rope and fitness app.
In this interview, Karl talked about how he fell in love with rope jumping and how his passion and the COVID-19 pandemic motivated him to shift his career from an athlete to a technology startup founder.
Q: What is ROJU?
K: Hi I am Karl Cheung, the Co-Founder & CEO of ROJU. ROJU is an all-in-one jump rope and fitness app, combining the elements of online training, e-sports and entertainment. We aspire to make everyone start rope jumping as a workout and enjoy a healthy and sustainable lifestyle through exercise. We are committed to establishing a new eco-system for rope-jumping lovers in the world.
Q: How did your experiences prepare you in becoming a startup founder?
K: I founded a jump rope school Hong Kong Institute of Rope Skipping in 2015 and a social enterprise Jump Rope For Good in 2019 when I was in college. I was fascinated by tech entrepreneurship after participating in startup events and would like to explore beyond being just an athlete or a sports coach. Thus, I started to learn UI/UX design and validate product concepts which got me to where I am today. I feel great to step out of my comfort zone by shifting my career from an athlete and sports coach to a technology startup founder.
Q: Instead of starting a business in a mass market, why did you decide to pursue this niche market? What motivates you in the first place?
K: Passion is what drives us to start ROJU. I am a jump rope enthusiast and my mission has always been to encourage everyone to participate in jump rope. I started learning jump rope on the internet and that shaped who I am today. In 2015, I co-founded a jump rope club and opened a jump rope Instagram account to share our knowledge and skills among the rope-jumping community. The Instagram account has grown to 10K followers, among which are professional jump rope athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the globe. Some athletes even came to Hong Kong just because they wanted to have in-person training with us. This inspired me that the internet could be a great platform to coach and influence others. Perhaps one day Jump Rope would become a mainstream fitness like Yoga, who knows? I believe what I am doing now can accelerate the growth of jump rope sports and create a new ecosystem for the jump rope industry.
Q: How did you validate this niche market?
K: Jump Rope was a dull exercise 20 years ago. However, it is no longer a single-out exercise and has become a professional and sophisticated sport nowadays. The sport has also incorporated other systematic trainings, such as CrossFit and MuayThai. These made us believe that Jump Rope has been gaining popularity as a form of fitness exercise and has a huge market potential.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also opened the door to new online businesses like us. We started prototyping ROJU at the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Jump rope is probably one of the few options left for people to workout from home or as a cardio exercise during the lockdown. We noticed that there has been a rising demand for Jump Rope Fitness Programme, trick tutorials and equipment advice on social media. Thus, we started ROJU to provide workout programmes and follow along training for users to start incorporating jump rope into their workout routine. We are also creating a jump rope version dictionary in our app to document all jump rope skills within our platform to push the development of the sport. The timing couldn’t have been better.
Q: You are not a first-time founder, why did you decide to take on a new venture that is in a completely unrelated industry?
K: Before starting ROJU, I co-founded a company called ProEd. ProEd is an O2O platform and business management system for the education industry. We were in a very difficult situation as face-to-face classes and school activities were suspended. Despite the education services industry being hindered by the limitation of physical contact, the pandemic has led to an inevitable surge in the use of home fitness apps due to lockdown measures. This inspired me to pursue my passion for Jump Rope. We hope to seize the opportunity by making use of my knowledge and experiences to inspire people to keep exercising whenever and wherever they want.
Q: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are considering becoming first-time founders themselves?
K: Running a startup is not easy and you will go through a lot of frustrations every day. It is important to take care of yourself and stay mentally healthy. Accept the challenges and do not be afraid of failures.
I would also encourage you to share your ideas with as many people as possible. Only then, you can figure out whether your ideas will succeed and whether you are going in the right direction.
Q: How can we learn more about you and your company?
K: Follow us on Instagram @ROJU.APP, and most importantly get a professional rope on our e-commerce site and download our mobile app to jump-start your new healthy life during the COVID-19! Free feel to drop me a message on Linkedin to chat more. I’m more than happy to connect with you all.
Karl Cheung, Co-Founder & CEO of ROJU
February 25, 2021