Founder Stories

Going from strength to strength with SBN

Strength analytics platforms have only been accessible to million-dollar sporting institutions or academic biomechanics labs. Strength by Numbers is bringing the tech to physios and consumers everywhere.
“When things have got tough, or when we've thrown some curveballs towards them, every member of the Skalata team has always been there for us.”
Jordan Thurgood
Strength by Numbers
3 ways we helped Strength by Numbers scale

The Strength By Numbers team are pretty much the definition of ‘technical founders’.

They have two PhDs, a Masters degree, and three undergrad degrees between them across health and engineering. And they’ve got proven founding experience. 

If you know Skalata, you know we love the opportunity for knowledge transfer out of Australian institutions - especially if it’s done by people who’ve done it before.

We’ve now invested in two separate rounds, helping Strength by Numbers to get their custom strength testing hardware - AxIT - into the hands of health pros and consumers everywhere.

Meet the team

Founders Jordan and Stephen came to Skalata with some impressive startup experience. 

Jordan is the former Chief Innovation Officer at ASX-listed lung imaging tech 4DMedical (ASX:4DX). He has a PhD in engineering, an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, and strong experience in commercial applications of technology as New Ventures Manager at Monash University.

Stephen worked alongside Jordan as CTO at 4DMedical. He is the inventor on 19 granted patents and patent applications, and holds a PhD in Biological Engineering and an undergraduate degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Phew.

They’re joined by Chief Product Officer Lachlan, an experienced project manager who’s delivered over $40 million of contract value projects in the last decade.

Rounding off the founding quartet is Chief Revenue Officer Andrew, who holds a Masters of Osteopathy and an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences. He has experience in the professional customer domain, working with and assessing thousands of patients undergoing injury rehab or resolving chronic conditions.

Andrew is no stranger to product, having developed learning experiences for professionals globally, and applying technology in assessment practices.

Meet the product

In a nutshell, Strength by Numbers is a digital health company working to bring next-gen strength testing equipment to measure muscle progress in rehab, physio, and fitness environments. 

Its AxIT system comprises 3 lightweight, portable tools (Stomp-IT, Pull-IT and Push-IT) with sensors that accurately measure the forces applied to them. They then feed back data to a dedicated app which provides a detailed analysis of power, strength, stability, and technique. 

Information that was previously only subjective, is now objective, meaningful, and actionable.

And the use cases are broad. 

In physical therapy, it can identify imbalances, improper weight distribution, and range of motion. In strength training, it can identify improvements in force tolerance. For athletes, it can test jump height and sprint speed. 

Over 125+ assessments can be performed with the AxIT system's integrated force plates and dynamometers

Historically, thanks to costs in the hundreds of thousands, this equipment was only accessible to million dollar sporting institutions or academic biomechanics labs.

SBN wants to use this tech to serve previously underserved markets - local physios, personal trainers, and coaches, not just elite clubs, private practices, and high-end consumers.

Troubleshooting in the strength testing space

SBN was inspired by two main events. 

Firstly when Jordan and Lachlan were talking to a friend about some ruinously expensive and painfully inadequate equipment he had purchased for his physio practice. And secondly when Jordan had to go through rehab for a shoulder injury, and realised how hopeless existing systems were at measuring progress. 

Most hardware in the space was targeted to medical professionals. Often sourced by an administrator rather than the end user, there was little thought to ease of use, ease of integration, or user experience. 

On the coaching end, small business owners in the fitness space were unsure of how to use objective assessment technology, worried it would add more time to their sessions, and concerned it would be another financial cost on their business.

The answer was an easy to use, all-in-one system for every body and every muscle group. 

Early days at SBN: building out the product roadmap

Over 125 assessments can be performed with the AxIT system's integrated force plates and dynamometers. Users can then create personalised templates for each individual client to blueprint their goals and achieve them efficiently.

The app counterpart automatically measures and monitors clients’ progress and displays the data in a way they can understand.

As Strength by Numbers scales, it will use the data gathered and the revenue from the first phase to build out machine learning and recommendation layers. This is the next step to winning the broader consumer market.


The margins Strength by Numbers were achieving early on looked much closer to SaaS than most commodity hardware plays. 

They were on the path to over $2m in revenue - a large portion recurring - all before they came to Skalata. 

With over 200 customers secured, the majority on fixed subscriptions, SBN were ready to start rolling out new software and data features and adding additional high-margin revenue streams.

Strength by Numbers’ original target customers - health and fitness professionals - provided a strong TAM. But the growing global health and wellbeing market was too buff of an opportunity to overlook.

Jordan says:

“We’re really hoping to spread the concept of prehab - preventative rehab. When you're fit and healthy, that’s the point when we want people to come in and use this system. Because you only go see a physio or osteo because you're injured, and it's already too late. The damage is done. So why not go and see them for regular maintenance?”

This isn’t just good business. Strength underpins health. 80% of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. After seeking reactive (as opposed to preventative) treatment, they endure a 66% recurrence rate. 

With 21% of people already using fitness trackers, and the digital fitness market worth a projected $130 billion by 2027, a second round of investment was a natural next step.

Designed for everyday health and fitness professionals, AxITs intuitive data and online training portal means anyone can use it

Scaling up

Skalata invested AUD $200,000 in Strength by Numbers in October 2021.

Having delivered 46% growth in ARR, reducing COGs by 40%, and maintaining monthly churn at <1%, SBN received a further AUD $500,000 from Skalata in October 2022.

In Jordan’s words: 

“I have good connections to many investors in the ecosystem, but I wanted Skalata on our cap table. We gave them lots of reasons not to go with us but they leant in and helped. That underpins everything else. There is a purpose behind what Skalata is doing.”

Skalata provided SBN support that focused on scalability, and strengthening areas across the company to move from a small business into a growth mindset.

“Skalata was an important catalyst for us. They challenged our vision and helped us think differently. We now talk much bigger and grander.”

Jordan also notes the “structure, diligence, and accountability” that galvanised the team from thinking about it to doing it. 

The founders also:

  • Gained skills in selling a complex system over the phone or by video conference - a major reason for their growth during the pandemic 
  • Found ways to reduce the time from first contact to sale 
  • Added approximately $100,000 in ARR for about $10,000 in sales wages.

Strengthening performance 

Launching a complex hardware product is no mean feat in the SaaS era. 

Strength by Numbers worked cleverly around the upfront cost of their custom hardware, subsidising it with a subscription model with a minimum three year term.

They’ve seen an average growth rate of 8% month-on-month, and the founders expect to add additional revenue when their first professional recommendations are released in 2024.

Jordan explains: 

“What we're starting to build now is our recommendation engine. So if someone comes in with an ankle injury and they get X results on AxIT, X days post-injury, how is their rehab progress benchmarked against the data? Are they tracking well? What would a professional recommendation be to improve progress? This is where we want to get to.”

The success of this recommendation engine is all dependent on one thing – data. Having already acquired 775,000 datasets over the last few years, the team is aiming to reach 1 million by the end of 2023.

While SBN’s target is largely administrators of the tech like physios and personal trainers, the end goal is better results for their clients. Because the end result of better understanding is better adherence.

In other words, getting people to actually stick to their rehab exercises!

We invested because we saw proof of progress. 

We’re confident that Strength by Numbers’ end users will come out fitter and stronger as a result of AxIT, thanks to the ability to see theirs.

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