The office of Revletics co-founder Ryan Huddleston has all the makings of a mad scientist’s playground. Looking for a sewing machine, varying neoprene textures, a screen printer, or carbon fiber? You’ve come to the right place.
For structure, an organized desk, and open floor space—heck, just room to walk around—try Jason Fink’s office next door.
Yes, it’s this yin-and-yang, Bert-and-Ernie duo that is emerging among the Austin fitness culture as a trusted resource for product creation, invention, and innovation. Huddleston and Fink met as roommates during college in Wisconsin and grew into friends. Both independently migrated to Texas, seeking better weather and opportunity, and today they stand as founders of Revletics, a company devoted to inspiring and helping people find sustainable fitness.
“I think it’s complementary skill sets. We each have our area of expertise. We know each other’s styles and get along really well,” Fink said. “But, really we just want to keep people moving.”
Huddleston is a chemist, and while working for a chemistry company in Wisconsin, he used his after-work hours to devise a manufacturing method that reduced the cost of a major allergy medication. Huddleston later entered the University of Texas in the organic chemistry Ph.D track, but after earning his master’s degree, decided to take some time off. “I had no idea what I was going to do and wasn’t super concerned about it,” Huddleston recalled. “But I got surprisingly bored, just hanging out at the tennis club with 50-year-old doctors. I kept thinking, ‘This isn’t good.’ I wanted to start something.”
So Huddleston called up Fink, who was still working in Wisconsin. Fink is admittedly the business guy, and his father was a small business owner. “I always wanted to start a company,” Fink said. “It always interested me. The timing was right … I sold my house and moved to Austin.” In 2006, they started Chemtos, a chemistry services company, in about 400 square feet of office space; the company grew, and they eventually sold it in 2011. Huddleston again had some free time on his hands, but this time he chose CrossFit over the tennis club.
It was the CrossFit box that inspired Huddleston to think outside the box. His workout partners learned of Huddleston’s background as a scientist and inventor and kept feeding him ideas for interesting products. But it was an awkward aggravation that actually spawned the inaugural Revletics product. After all, many a WOD (workout of the day) involves canvas sandbags—those sweaty, smelly bags with the flapping straps. “I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way. Let’s make one out of wetsuit material,’” Huddleston said. “It will stay dry and make it longer, so you can wrap it around (your shoulders) in a more natural position. Give it a sense of versatility.”
Last spring, Huddleston taught himself how to sew and started ordering all kinds of wetsuit material. The Revletics “SandLog” was born. By time the company started selling to the public in November 2013, Revletics also offered a customizable speed jump rope with carbon fiber handles and deep tissue massage balls. In time for the Texas summer, they’ve recently released an insulated stainless steel water bottle that looks straight out of NASA.
Huddleston’s connection to CrossFit gyms and the fitness community provided a natural product testing team. The sand log prototype, for instance, debuted at a weekend boot camp. “There you find some flaws and then go back, tinker, and change,” Huddleston said. “I enjoy that process, figuring out how to improve on things.”
Through honest collaboration, Revletics is fulfilling its mission of creating products that inspire a fitness revolution—even if that means some of Huddleston’s grand ideas remain partially-constructed prototypes in his cluttered office space. Fink calls it “checks and balances.” Huddleston calls it “resistance.”
The most important questions to determine a product’s viability are “Will this satisfy customers?” and “Will this sell?” Huddleston explained, “Some concerns are costing concerns. But I know if we can figure out a way to make it, I can figure out a way to reduce the cost.”
They handle their own shipping; even today, Huddleston sews sand logs to order. Revletics is essentially a two-man team and, instead of formal meetings, Fink and Huddleston often just talk back and forth from each other’s offices. Think of it as functional friendship.
“We have a very good working relationship,” Fink said. “If you can start a business (Chemtos), spend five years doing it and growing it full-time, just busting your butt, and still be good friends after that, it says something about your working relationship.”