Health and fitness is more than just a buzz word at the moment. More and more regular people are getting increasingly clued up about ho to stay in good shape, being far more aware of the importance of exercise and the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. And it’s not just a fad, either. Many regular gym goers are making these changes for good, as integral part of their lives. As a result, gyms of all types are popping up everywhere to meet demand, and exercise classes – beit it HIIT, Yoga, boot camps, etc – are becoming a popular choice of hobby.
With that, people are increasingly using the help of personal trainers to help push their limits and train in a way that is personalised to them. The only thing is, the majority of PTs do not come cheap, meaning only those in good financial positions are able to afford regular training with a professional by their side. That is until WeGym came along: a startup gym company that aims to make personal training not only more affordable, but more fun, too.
We spoke with WeGym’s founder, Josh Uwadiae, to learn more…
So tell us; what exactly is WeGym?
WeGym is the most fun and affordable way to experience personal training. We bring together two people with the same goals and abilities to share the session and go on the journey together.
We’re making fitness more accessible and addictive through lower the barriers to accessing a trainer – to date we’ve been successful in democratising the product as 50% of our customers are first time users.
What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies ?
It’s really hard to nail hardcore USP’s with marketplaces as it’s usually down to your execution and understanding of your niche/customer. However, the areas we stand for which form our ‘USPs’ are Cheaper, Easier and Fun – our intention is to leverage fitness technology to offer fitness at a price point millions can afford.
What is your personal background?
My personal background is not very convivial. I was expelled from school at 15 and ran around in gangs and crime for years whilst growing up in a pre-gentrified Hackney. I bettered myself through a Microsoft IT apprenticeship a few years later and was a technologist in varies roles starting as an apprentice and working my way up to be an IT Manager over three years. I also worked closely with Microsoft as a UK voice for their global youth spark program – whilst locally helping Microsoft UK as an apprenticeship ambassador – it was super exciting work!
What inspired you to start the company?
I’m a new years resolution survivor who hated working out alone. I started WeGym as I succeeded with my fitness goal in 2015 through having someone to help me stay motivated and accountable. When I left that job it was impossible to find someone else…. i asked find, tried but couldn’t afford a personal trainer and it was impossible to speak to people at the gym ( far far too awkward )
So I decided to solve my own problem, which is why we’re building a motivation machine.
What is the story of the company from launch until now? How big is the company now
The story is an ugly one haha.
We did the ignite Accelerator in April 2016 and originally we’re building a social network to help people find a gym buddy, sort for like Tinder for fitness but we couldn’t get enough people to connect offline as people found it extremely awkward. 0.8% of people meet up offline through dating apps I’ve read so without the motivation of love or sex it was really hard to make happen!
However we knew the core benefit of a buddy was motivation and accountability so we blended the benefits of a trainer and having the social dynamics of a friend or buddy and WeGym v2 was born!
We’re still relatively small – team wise it’s just me running around trying to keep up with customer demand. We’re doing several hundred sessions on a month and are growing quickly.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?
I was really optimistic, about to start pitching investors and then I realise (fortunately) after a meeting with my mentor that we didn’t yet have a business worth funding as we frankly hadn’t solved the problem we were trying to solve, even in a small way yet!
It was really hard for me as I was very emotionally investing in the idea, it was my personal story and I had spent such a long time on it. I didn’t get out of bed for a couple days after that; I think I was depressed and befuddled about what to do next and I had to completely change my mindset from
What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?
We had 90 days of cash in the bank and I set a timer on my Mac called “Save the Company”.
I had to cut a lot of cost to extend our runway (I basically ate lots of cereal) and we had no revenue sources (free B2C app) were going through the biggest company crisis possible as we realised WeGym v1 (find a gym buddy) hadn’t found product / market fit and users wouldn’t meet up offline (I think people found it awkward connecting with strangers directly, for instance, dating apps only have 0.8% offline connections.
We had to make big decisions, let go of all we had done and starting testing other hypothesis which aligned with our vision – which is what lead us to introduce PT’s on-to our platform. We had no money to do marketing so I designed a poster, printed out 100 A4 posters (for free, of course, at the office) and spent £2 on sellotape and headed out on a Sunday night to do fly posting: we made a grand in our first month.
I’m super proud that we turned it around with an initial £2 marketing budget and lots of hard work.
What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?
Our core business model is we take a commission from the sessions we facilitate through our platform.
What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently?
We’re going to raise money to expand operationally, build tech and a team – we’re solving a big problem and a significant solution needs a cash injection – I must say however, I’ve gotten over the hype of ‘ needing ‘ to raise money and being depending on capital to exist. I’ve moved home, lived on peanuts, embraced scrappiness and somewhat successfully pushed for ramen profitability.
Would you eventually look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
In the future we’ll see – I’ve bled to build it so I really want to see it succeed and exist.
Will you be looking for more funding?
Yes, we’re about to raise our first round of funding.