© Pepper

Pepper: “A turning point in the fitness industry”

EMS training, i.e. training with electromuscular stimulation technology, has long been offered by specialized fitness studios. However, the experience leaves a lot to be desired: "For a twenty-minute workout, I had to spend thirty minutes getting there and back, the large glass fronts made me feel like I was in a shop window, the preparation involving wiring and spraying a strange suit was annoying and it was also very expensive," recalls Emilia von Keyserlingk, founder of the Munich-based startup Pepper. She wants to do things better with her company and is bringing EMS training into the home. In this interview, she tells us more about the background to Pepper, what makes her solution special and what the startup's next steps are.

Munich Startup: What does your startup Pepper do? What problem do you solve?

Emilia von Keyserlingk, Peppper: We combine proven electromuscular stimulation (EMS) technology with innovative design and interactive software to make training up to 300 percent more effective and efficient. With our wireless Pepper suit and the corresponding Pepper training app, users can not only train easily and safely, but also independently of time and location. The main problem we are solving is the time and motivation barriers that prevent the majority of the population from getting enough exercise. By integrating EMS technology, Pepper allows users to achieve more effective results in less time. Pepper is suitable for beginners and experts alike thanks to its different and personalized training programs and intensities. It is proven to be suitable for targeted and joint-friendly muscle building, injury prevention and rehabilitation, fat burning and strengthening connective tissue.

Munich Startup: But that already exists!

Emilia von Keyserlingk: Although EMS technology has been around for a long time, no one has yet managed to integrate it into a comprehensive home training concept. This is where Pepper comes in, and we believe that our solution marks a turning point in the fitness industry.

A key component of our success is undoubtedly our innovative app. It not only offers an extensive media library with pulse-synchronized training videos, but also allows users to track progress and health data. In addition, the app allows users to individually adjust the training intensity for each muscle group, creating a personalized fitness experience at the highest level.

EMS group training thanks to the Pepper app

Thanks to the advanced Pepper app, up to 20 people can now train together with synchronized impulses in a group training session. This opens up a whole new dimension to the fitness experience by integrating social interaction and mutual motivation into the workout. Pepper thus not only creates an effective and personalized training experience for individuals, but also opens up new possibilities for group fitness activities that were previously unattainable.

Munich Startup: What is your founding story?

Emilia von Keyserlingk: My everyday life in management consulting was characterized by long, stressful working days at a desk. I quickly de-prioritized sport and sufficient exercise, which meant that I was already struggling with massive back problems in my mid-twenties. My doctor recommended that I start EMS training due to my busy schedule. After just six weeks, my back pain had disappeared, but the experience in the EMS studio was anything but pleasant. For a twenty-minute training session, I had to spend thirty minutes getting there and back, the large glass fronts made me feel like I was in a shop window, the preparation consisting of wiring and spraying someone else’s suit was annoying and it was also very expensive. It was clear to me that there had to be a better solution. I wanted to take EMS training to the next level!

Pepper: “We have already successfully provided proof of market”

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Emilia von Keyserlingk: Our biggest challenge at Pepper so far has been to find a balance between innovation and user-friendliness. We strived to develop an EMS technology that is effective and efficient, but at the same time simple and enjoyable for users. The challenge was to make the complex technology accessible and user-friendly for everyone through the Pepper app, without compromising on performance. Features such as synchronizing the EMS pulse from the suit with the interactive workout videos in the Pepper app required a lot of development and feedback from our users to ensure that our product met their needs while providing high quality and effectiveness.

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, where would you like to be in five years?

Emilia von Keyserlingk: We have already successfully achieved our first milestone, the proof of market. We are currently in the funding process for seed financing. With the completion of the financing, we have set ourselves a clear goal for this year and especially for next year: To help more people on their way to healthy fitness. We want to meet the existing high demand in new markets and scale up.

In five years, we see Pepper as a leader in EMS technology, helping people around the world achieve their fitness goals. We will expand our product offering and stay true to our philosophy by developing close to our customers and their needs to realize our vision: To use technology and design to connect the world through fitness and empower people to be the best version of themselves anytime, anywhere.

With the support of Werk1 and Makerspace

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Emilia von Keyserlingk: Munich is known for its renowned universities, which play a significant role in academia and provide a wealth of support and funding for aspiring founders. In addition, Munich also offers a thriving startup ecosystem characterized by its diversity of startup groups, meetups and incubators. We have benefited tremendously from this environment, especially from the resources and programs offered by institutions such as Werk1 and Makerspace. The regular exchange with other founders and the opportunity to learn from their experiences have proven to be extremely valuable.

Munich Startup: Risk or security?

Emilia von Keyserlingk: Through Pepper, I know first-hand how important it is to take risks in order to drive innovation. When I decided to leave my secure job and found Pepper, there was a lot of uncertainty. I didn’t know if my idea would be successful, but I realized that risk is inevitable, especially in the business world. Without risk, there is often no progress or innovation.

The great thing is that risks can be limited by working close to the customer and continuously seeking feedback. By iterating, seeking advice from mentors and exchanging ideas with other founders, I was able to minimize our risk. A balanced approach that combines risk-taking with safety measures has enabled me to successfully build Pepper and realize our vision.