New sportswear gives incentive to work out harder
By Steve Seepersaud
Quitting medical school to start your own business doesn't sound, on the surface, like the best idea, unless you have something truly unique and marketable to sell. Benjamin Wood '05 feels just that way about his product.
He's the founder and CEO of ViewSport, a Rochester-area company that has quickly attracted attention for a new brand of athletic wear - T-shirts that show an image more prominently as your perspiration increases.
Wood launched ViewSport in June, and after the company received coverage in The Wall Street Journal later in the summer, said he sold thousands of T-shirts immediately. His company markets the apparel to gyms and school athletic teams, and is outfitting some of the squads at St. John Fisher College, Nazareth College and the University of Rochester.
"The reaction has been incredible," Wood says. "On our Facebook page, one person said 'this is the most novel invention I've seen since the Nike Waffle Shoe.' There has been some negative feedback from people who think it's disgusting to sweat a lot. But, people who love to work out love the idea."
Wood says back in the summer of 2009, he noticed that he tended to sweat in particular shapes during workouts. He wondered if it was possible to turn the shape into an image. So, the Harpur chemistry major got to work in the lab and, in six months time, developed an applique that can be put onto fabric so images show through more when the cloth is wet.
"I thought this could be a viable product if marketed the right way, and it would be a great tool for athletes and sports enthusiasts to give them incentive to work out harder," Wood says.
With a partner and only $4,000, Wood started his business. He formed an S corporation and sold shares to raise cash for the venture. He now has a team of sales and creative people, and a manufacturing facility in Rochester.
After graduating from Binghamton, Wood was a professional saxophone player before enrolling in med school at American University of Antigua. ViewSport is a full-time endeavor, and Wood wants to have a national sales force that would target high school and college athletic teams, as well as retail chains.
"We felt the launch would be significant enough to pay back our debts in a short amount of time, and we were fortunate that assumption was correct," Wood says. "Going forward, we want to foster jobs in Western New York; that's one of our mantras."