RCA students launch virtual workout start-up Quell
Two RCA & Imperial College MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering students are making exercise enjoyable for the millions of people that can’t bring themselves to exercise.
In February 2020, RCA Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) students Cameron Brookhouse and Lorenzo Spreafico, along with two friends, co-founded Quell – a combat fitness game that combines the excitement of gaming with effective exercise. Within three months they were invited to join the prestigious US start-up accelerator Y Combinator (who have supported startups such as AirBnB, Reddit and Dropbox) who have invested US$150,000 in Quell. They’ve also raised over £300,000 from their Kickstarter campaign, exceeding their £25,000 goal within the first two hours.
The idea for Quell came about while Cameron and Lorenzo were students together at the RCA and the product is an extension of their Master’s project. Covid provided the opportunity for them to explore their ideas further, as well as apply and be accepted into Y Combinator. You can read more about how they got into Y Combinator’s prestigious accelerator programme within three weeks of launching Quell in Business Insider.
‘Our motivation for developing Quell is that, for millions of people, exercising is a monotonous chore. They know they should do it but they resent it. Gaming, by contrast, is something that people love doing, but often feel guilty about.’ They want to combine gaming and exercise without compromising on either. Quell is the result of this: ‘It’s exercise made fun, and gaming without guilt’ explained Cameron and Lorenzo.
Over the next few months the Quell team plan to refine their prototype further and work on the manufacturing side. Cameron and Lorenzo said that the IDE programme prepared them well for the development of Quell in such a short period of time:
‘In the IDE course you are constantly challenged and pushed outside of your comfort zone. We were tasked to work on five to six projects within a six month period, so when Quell came along we were ready to jump into something new and a bit crazy.’
They credit their IDE tutors for getting them interested and teaching them about the importance of behaviour change and user-led design, which are key elements of Quell’s design. Cameron said:
‘The RCA was transformative for me. I had to change the way I think, accepting that the design process is exploratory and that it needs to be user-led rather than hypothesis-driven. The things I learned on the MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering directly shaped Quell: we did over 100 user-led interviews before we started development. We wanted to understand everything about the drivers of and barriers to exercise – why do people hate it, when do they love it, and what are the factors that play into these feelings? We then had the perfect framework to begin removing these barriers and creating motivation.’
Lorenzo and Cameron are taking a break from their programme at the RCA for 2020/21 to focus on developing Quell.
Find out more about MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering and how to apply.