Who’s behind Antelope?

Philipp G. Schwarz, Kay Rathschlag and Patrick Thumm are the three founders of Wearable Life Science GmbH. The company was founded in 2014 in Nuremberg and developed the innovative ANTELOPE.SPORTSWEAR.
Each of the founders brought a great deal of experience and know-how to the project: Philipp was already successfully working as an entrepreneur and consultant for other start-ups. He is currently managing the Research and Development department at GLUCE.
Kay had also gained entrepreneurial experience as a founder of a fitness studio chain. He is a pioneer in the area of electro muscle stimulation (EMS) and is an absolute expert in his field.
Patrick is currently doing a doctorate in sports physiology with special focus on Training & Testing. He is also one of the top stand-up paddlers in the country, as well as a successful triathlete and volleyball player.
Since 2016, manager Dr. Mynia Deeg has played an important role in the company. Before Antelope, she worked at the New York start-up Voyat and, during her time at Personal MedSystems, she helped in building a global network of leading cardiologists

How did you all meet?

Philipp and Kay got to know each other in Kay's fitness studio in 2013. The year before, Philipp had failed in a swimming marathon due to cramps in his calves from a swimming marathon and wanted to get prepared for his swim across the Lake Zurich using the EMS method. This individual training was extremely effective as Philip was able to swim the distance of 26.4 kilometres without any problems. Both Philipp and Kay were enthusiastic about the effect of this training method, but also noted practical problems in the sports-specific training: The idea for a new type of sportswear was born. They met Patrick shortly afterwards. As a sports scientist, he had also gained a lot of experience with EMS. For example, he was able to help a former basketball player, who was previously unable to play due to a sports disability, return to his second league comeback. All three of them hit it off at their first meeting.

What is unique about your business idea?

ANTELOPE.SPORTSWEAR is a combination of sports clothing and wearable technology: compression clothing with integrated electrodes, a smartphone-sized electronics unit and a control app. The EMS technology has been taken from both competitive sports and rehabilitation. Muscle contractions are strengthened using external electrical impulses, leading to an improvement in each training stage. World-renowned athletes such as Usain Bolt, Rafael Nadal and football teams Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are already familiar with this method. The unique features of EMS training are that it is mobile, highly effective and can be adapted to any sport.

Who assisted you when founding the company?

In the initial phase, BayStartUP helped us in networking and in finding our first investors. Bayern Innovativ helped us in marketing and enabled us, for example, to take part in the South by Southwest Festival in Austin. This allowed us to introduce ourselves to international investors and those with influence in large companies. From the research side, bavAIRia e.V. aided us in the areas of IP and development support.

Did you take part in pitches or business plan competitions?

In 2015 we collected two ISPO Brand New Awards in the categories 'Sportswear' and 'Public Choice' through which the public media became aware of us. We won the pitch for 'Start-ups @ Reeperbahn' in the same year. This victory promoted our crowdfunding campaign and our innovation became more and more well-known; even Xing founder Lars Hinrichs tweeted that he "loves" our sportswear. This success was followed in 2016 with the FOCUS 'Digital Star Award' and the 'Innovation World Cup'. Recently, we were recognised as the best business model in the North Bavaria business plan competition, against hundreds of other start-ups. These are the best possible conditions for our official product launch at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.

What were the biggest challenges you had to face when founding the company? 

The first task was to attract investors and to convince them of our vision, because never before has such complex high-tech sportswear been designed.
The second step was to build a strong team as all the components, from design to hardware, have been developed in-house. One of the biggest challenges was our crowdfunding campaign in Germany because it is almost unknown, as is EMS technology in the United States, the largest sports market. In both cases, a lot of educational work had to be carried out to clear these hurdles.

What advice can you give to new business entrepreneurs?

Philipp's motto is "better done than perfect": Any idea is good, until it has been proven otherwise. As a founder, you should hold on to your idea and not be swayed by others. It is very important to remain focused and to get to know the target market. Media appearances are also very useful and necessary, because these bring the attention of investors and partners. 

Why did you choose Nuremberg or rather Bavaria as a business location?

Philipp had previously had good experiences as a founder in Franconia, especially in Nuremberg. So his existing network within the start-up scene played an important role. Being a local player, Patrick was another factor. The first employees were recruited directly from Nuremberg. The infrastructure for start-ups was just as crucial; BayStartUP, Bayern Innovativ and bavAIRia were the perfect sparring partners for us.

What aims do you have for the future?

Our product launch will take place in Rio and we will also be represented there at the HYPE Awards. Moreover, delivery by our supporter, Indiegogo, will take place soon as well as the launch of our online shop. At the same time, we are constantly working to expand our leading role and are already developing the second generation of our sports series.
Antelope will be equipped, among other things, with a sensor system and many other features.
Philipp's ultimate goal is to help wheelchair users to stand up and start walking again.

Where can I find out more about Antelope?

In addition to Twitter and Facebook, you can find us under and Indiegogo.