The path to entrepreneurship can be sticky – some choose to leave their jobs in search of something with more excitement, some foster ideas that they’ve had for years, and some just happen upon founder life through experiences or innovation. Entrepreneurship often starts with a couple of ideas and a lot of hard work, but the story of Step Sciences starts with a long-time friendship turned dedicated business partnership that is now becoming one of London’s biggest and brightest innovations built on the back of a budding friendship.
Matt Bellia and Alex Kopacz met in their first week of high school, becoming instant buds and project partners for the next four years. They joined their school football team together, coached by the late Bob Jez who is noted as an inspiration for their now celebrated success, and won the Ontario championship in their final year playing the field together. They graduated and continued to pursue post-secondary educations; Alex in engineering and Matt in business. The pair spent years growing their careers, but held onto the firm beliefs instilled in them by their inspirational coach about what it takes to truly be a good teammate and find success in the relationships of working together for a common goal.
Fast forward many years, Alex Kopacz became an Olympic gold medalist, and Matt Bellia had spent the better part of his career in corporate finance and public accounting. The two remained close friends, and on the night of Matt’s wedding, sealed the deal on being business partners, too. With ideas of innovation spinning around and many late-night talks following the decision to jump into start up life, the best friends started Step Sciences, a premier orthotics brand breaking into the world of sports medicine innovation through custom orthotic solutions.
“The impetus to jump into a new venture with such confidence was that we have been best friends for the majority of our lives”, said Bellia, “We knew that if we stayed true to our values and each other, that success would come as a biproduct of that”.
Step Sciences is a one-of-a-kind custom orthotics brand that is built to be personalized to each individual user to create long-term, beneficial outcomes. Unlike traditional orthotics, Step Sciences uses unique contours that stimulate various muscles throughout the foot, designed and manipulated based on the patient’s anatomy. The patient’s needs are used as the motivating perspective for customization, and optimizing through passive stimulants, the orthotics can repair and recover previous injuries, make you stronger, and cause influence in the physical changes to your anatomy. Being a science-focused business allows Step Sciences to address the needs of every patient one step at a time. With a mission to provide a pain free path to performance for all, they pivoted from an athlete-only focus to the expansive world of work and industrial ergonomics. This pivot has taken Step Sciences across Canada, with their initial consumer focus being labour workers in the oil and manufacturing industries.
“Ultimately, we’re in the market of helping people live a better, healthier, and happier life, and it all boils down to our core values of who we are as founders, making sure that people come first”, says Bellia.
Thinking from the lens of an employer, Step Science’s pivoted to a B2B business model, which allowed for their target market to be reached with ease and specificity. Understanding that workplace injuries occur vastly in the manufacturing and manual labour industries, this new target allowed for an advancement in customer testimonials and product market fit. With so much time and money being lost to injury, Step Sciences provides a preventative service to both the company and the employee, with the overarching goal of accessibility. Building custom orthotics takes time and patience, and Step Sciences has streamlined and perfected the system to get advanced care into the hands of those who are on their feet all day and needing it the most.
Now engaged in ongoing clinical studies at Robarts Research Institute here in London to further incentivize their growth, Step Sciences is walking along the path to venture growth and founder success. Through their individual expertise allowing for interchangeable competencies as business owners and their dedication to a friendship-first business model, the Step Sciences founders have been able to take their friendship to the next level. The success of this venture is strongly attributed to the story of themselves as founders. Still a small business with scrappy startup energy, the support systems that build the foundation of Step Sciences will forever enable them to continue to innovate and create effectively and with a little bit of friendly fun. Run like a family business but built by true entrepreneurs, Step Sciences has been able to flourish due to the core within their business – alignment, core values, care for others, and friendship.
“We have a lifelong friendship and commitment to each other,” says Bellia, “From teammates in high school football to business owners and best friends shaking hands at my wedding to make the next big move, we’ve always been teammates first. Business isn’t always simply transactional, because it’s built by people who have thoughts and ideas and feelings, and I’m thankful that the people we have feel like family”.
To learn more about Step Sciences and how to get your own pair of their game-changing products, go to www.stepsciences.com