Going to the gym, day after day, can get monotonous. Same workout, different day. What if you had access to six different genres of fitness — think personal training, yoga, pilates and boxing — from your phone. You can have access to a trainer at your home, office or local gym within 90 minutes. No excuses now.
Fitspot came about as an answer to trainers earning too little, small gyms struggling to fill their space and low quality, expensive trainers. Fitspot offers their services not only to customers, but to enterprises with wellness programs as well. The startup reviews each trainer through their 5-step program to make sure you get results.
With Los Angeles and Las Vegas under their belt, CEO Jonathan Cohn is ready to go live in Atlanta this October. They already have some big clients on board, like Tinder, SalesLoft and Terminus — just to name a few. With seven employees already, Fitspot plans to expand to more cities following their stint at Techstars Atlanta. We hear, 10-15 more markets. Wowza!
Cohn talks to Hypepotamus about why having an open mind made him a better founder, their invaluable experience at Techstars, and a sneak peek into the new app features.
How did the idea for Fitspot originate?
I started a fitness business about five years ago in L.A. I was a personal trainer, and I ran a business focused on providing personal training services. I saw a massive need that existed in the market space, really, on three different sides: customers, gyms and trainers. Customers would walk into a corporate gym and the cost of training was a hundred dollars plus an hour. Extremely, extremely expensive. It was also difficult to find a quality instructor, whether it was on Craigslist or Yelp.
It’s also very challenging to find a good instructor, which is why we vet all of our instructors internally. They have to go through a five-step process — from proof of insurance, certification to running every trainer through a practical workout exam. Fitspot can be used as a means to help gyms and trainers really increase their utilization. The average trainer works about three hours a day. They really struggle to make ends meet working at a corporate gym, where they’re only earning about 20 to 25 dollars an hour. A lot of smaller gyms also struggle to compete against the big chains. Fitspot is a way for local gyms to modify their space, and increase their utilization.
We saw the same thing from corporate, too. Companies wanting to provide benefits to their employees, and not necessarily knowing how to do so. It’s time-consuming for somebody in the office to go out and find a trainer. We have a network that’s roughly about a thousand trainers, and those are instructors that are looking for work. We wanted to be able to put them to use.
What’s your current funding status?
Before we joined Techstars, we had recently closed a seed round of financing. We’re not currently raising right now. We are looking to bring in additional funding as we move towards the end of demo day in the next couple months. That will give us the means to, as I mentioned, to move into additional markets by the end of the year. It will allow us to move aggressively into what we consider to be about 10-15 additional markets by 2017.
Let’s talk about your Techstars experience so far. How’s it been being in the program?
One of the most valuable aspects, I think, of being in Techstars is the network and the community that you’re plugged into. I think one of the reasons why we’re super excited about this program, one’s because of the partnership with Cox. Cox has been instrumental in helping us get connected with a niche. I think beyond that, just the infrastructure that they’ve created as a company has been a great template for the set of values that we want to establish at Fitspot.
The other aspect that’s been awesome has been the other companies that we work closely with here are some of our peers that are doing some amazing things. Being a part of that network of close companies that are in the current program, as well as companies that have been a part of the Techstars infrastructure, over the years, has been instrumental. Some of our mentors, guys like Kyle Porter at SalesLoft, have been super helpful in helping us grow out our sales team and create an operational structure that could help us scale in going forward.
You guys aren’t necessarily starting out. You guys are already have two different places, and now you’re expanding. Do you feel like you’re solving the problem that you sought out to fix with your company?
I think the great thing about being a startup is that you can be agile. I think that’s the best way that I can describe it.
You start to recognize opportunities that come about over time, that perhaps you didn’t expect. We started off initially focusing solely on consumers, and what we realized was there was a real need that existed amongst small to-medium-sized businesses. These companies wanted to provide yoga at the office. They wanted to be able to compete with some of the larger tech businesses like the Googles, the LinkedIns. More importantly, they want to create a positive work environment. The nice thing about being a business like ours is that we had the flexibility to be able to provide that and offer that as a service, and listen to what our customers wanted.
I think you’re always learning and that’s what’s so exciting about being a startup founder. It’s incumbent upon you to listen and to learn. When we hear something that they want, we can put it to work pretty quickly.
Any other lessons you’ve learned as a startup founder?
Keep an open mind, you know? Sometimes the best opportunities are the ones that you didn’t necessarily see coming from the start. You have to keep an open mind. You have to be willing to take advice and stay humble. Running a business, let alone running a startup, is always a humbling experience. That’s something that you have to embrace. The more you can learn from the people around you, the better your company will be, and the quicker you’ll grow.
How does Atlanta weave into your story?
I’m an Emory alum. Atlanta is a strong part of my past and now my present, and hopefully my future. I feel strongly about this city. It’s a great market for health and wellness. I have to say this: I haven’t lived in Atlanta for about 10 years, but I’ve been super impressed by just how the city has evolved — with the BeltLine and the enthusiasm that people have had for fitness. I think it’s pretty awesome.
Where do you see Fitspot going in the next six to 12 months, after you guys leave Techstars?
That’s a great question. I see a couple things. I see a focusing on growing actively into new markets — it’s one of the great things about being here at Techstars. We’ve had an opportunity to run our business from afar in a couple of different cities. It’s given us the chance to understand what that’s like, to create a scalable business model. That’s been super beneficial for us. Expansion is definitely on top of that list. As I mentioned, bringing in the necessary resources to take a model that’s working thus far, and expand upon it into more markets to come over the next, let’s just call it, six to 12 months.
Can you give us a sneak peek into the new app features?
For us, it’s really about making it that much easier for customers to engage with their instructors, and to engage with those individuals that are around them in an easier fashion. I think the key with business is engagement. The hardest part about participating in fitness is just doing it. Right? It never hurts to be able to have that type of additional motivation from your peers. Whether those are your friends, or whether that’s your trainer or your instructor. Our next update will incorporate a little bit more of that.