Dr. Turner Osler, CEO and Founder of QOR360, presents his prototype chair.
by Danny Monahan, Small Business Administration Vermont District Office Active sitting sounds like a contradictory term. An oxymoron in the sense of open secrecy or bittersweet. Besides, how can we be seated and still in motion?
Yet that’s the whole concept of QOR360, a small Burlington company that designs ergonomic chairs.
“Active sitting keeps your core stronger and your body aligned. We’re designed to move, and when you keep moving, your back appreciates it, ”said Dr. Turner Osler, CEO and Founder of QOR360.
Before being an inventor, Osler was a surgeon for 30 years at the University of Vermont Medical Center. When he retired from patient operations, Osler became a research epidemiologist at the University of Vermont. It was then that the pain started.
“As an epidemiologist, I had to make a lot of seating. For the first time, my back hurt. I bought an ergonomic chair, and it didn’t help. Then I bought another one. And another. I bought so many ergonomic chairs and each one was awful. Then I was like, ‘I’m a doctor. I’ll find out for myself, ”Osler said.
Osler started working on a few sketches for his own ergonomic chair in 2016. He had a bunch of ideas in mind, and he was tinkering in his basement working on simple prototypes, but wasn’t really sure about it. be on track on how to build it. So he ended up going to a makerspace to get advice.
“There were guys from the makerspace who knew the design, and I got the idea. They hugged me and we started to get to work. In less than a year, we have created the best chair in the world. I know this because I have bought and used all of the competitor’s chairs and think ours is the best, ”said Osler.
The chair they envisioned involves an active sitting position. Instead of a chair you sit on, it’s a chair that allows you to constantly move. It looks like a work stool, but between the base and the seat is a ball that allows it to swing in just about any direction.
As he built more and more chairs in his basement, Osler soon realized he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand. After partnering with a manufacturer to ramp up production, QOR360 sold one of its chairs to a Google employee who then sent an internal email to several of his colleagues saying “Hey guys, you should buy a”.
QOR360 then sold over 100 over the following weeks in 56 surrounding cities in and around Google. The company has since sold 6,000 chairs.
Like when he was in his basement tinkering with his designs, Turner’s business was booming and knew he needed help managing the growth.
“I was a career surgeon and got involved in entrepreneurship. I didn’t know how to read a spreadsheet or an income statement. Now I have a thriving small business and I had better learn how to run a business since I don’t know how to do it, ”said Osler.
In January, through word of mouth, Osler heard about the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program and decided to apply.
Emerging Leaders is the only federal training specifically designed for leaders of small, growing businesses. The free program includes approximately 100 hours of instruction, connects small business owners to a network of industry experts and peers, and supports the creation of a three-year strategic growth action plan. QOR360 was one of 20 small businesses accepted into the class out of 73 that applied.
To qualify for the category, small business owners must have annual incomes of $ 400,000 or more, have been in business for at least three years, and have employees. Each year a variety of Vermont companies are represented. A few of the companies in this year’s class include an engineering company, a custom bike shop, and a graphic design company.
“This course is so much better than reading about it in a book. Interaction with the class is really informative and collaborative. Everyone in the class seems to know a lot more than I do, I’m learning so much, ”Osler said.
In October, Osler will complete the Emerging Leaders program and have its three-year strategic plan. He said that one of his main goals is to expand internationally, particularly in Asia, and sell the 10,000th chair of QOR360 within the next 12 months.