The Challenger asked Alexander Gerasimov, co-founder and CEO of FITMOST, to talk about how the Russian service was invented and implemented, which became a single “ticket” for users in hundreds of different sports sections and fitness clubs.
Career: CEO of FITMOST
Age: 27 years
Place of birth: Minsk, Belarus
Education: Plekhanov International Business School of Business, SKEMA Business Scho228 (France), Skolkovo Startup Academy
When I once again wanted to buy a sports subscription club, faced with the fact that prices were not indicated on the sites of large companies, and it was also impossible to buy a subscription for a short period. Small studios didn’t have any sites at all, they had to come and find out the prices. At this moment, I wanted to create a service with which it would be very easy to sign up for training in any studio.
I began to study what the market offers.
In America, then ClassPass was actively developing - a single subscription to sports sections (today this service operates in 23 countries). I liked this format - it was a long-awaited opportunity to try new sports directions (be it cycling, yoga or barre), attend various studios without buying a subscription for a year. I wanted to make a similar service in Russia.
Before I started FITMOST, I did not know anything about the fitness and sports industry. Very often, new solutions are offered not by those companies that have been boiling in their market for a long time and are afraid of changes, but those that come into business from outside.
First we came up with the name FitHo104, similar to b ar h o119121ing (this phrase means moving friends from one bar to another), but then they realized that this concept was foreign to the Russian audience. Then the idea came up to call the FITMOST service. We really became a "bridge" that connects a person with fitness, a healthy lifestyle. Our mission is to remove barriers to sports and inspire people to discover.
Many studios still work the old fashioned way: they record clients in a notebook.
I remember one day the gym administrator accidentally took a notebook with her - the club’s work got up for the whole day! We realized that we needed to create a convenient CRM-system for clubs (customer relationship management system). This large-scale development, which was carried out exclusively within our team, slowed down the start of the project for six months, but it was worth it.
9.5 million rubles were spent on creating FITMOST. Most of the funds went just to create and test an online platform through which season ticket holders register for classes with partner clubs.
Investments were large, but they paid off in full.
The search for the first partners has become one of us the most difficult periods. It seemed right to negotiate with large fitness centers that would attract customers with their brand. But we were faced with bureaucracy and long negotiations - the process of signing documents could stretch for 4-5 months.
Then we decided to attract high-quality, but not so well-known studios to cooperate.
And it worked! Service has become a convenient solution for them. Clients easily found out about the studios thanks to our website and signed up, we often talked about new partners in social networks, newsletters.
Today about 800 fitness clubs and studios cooperate with us, among them there are those who were skeptical towards us at the beginning of the journey.
We brought the first subscribers literally by the hand. These were friends and friends of friends.
Subscriptions were even handed out for free, but it worked poorly. Out of a hundred people, only ten decided to go to classes. Nobody wanted to delve into the possibilities of the service, everyone lived in thought: I go to a fitness club near the house, why do I need something else?
The loyalty system worked: the first satisfied customers talked about us to their friends and received bonuses for this, and friends - discounts. So gradually grew the community of active users who shared photos from classes on social networks.
It was possible to count the number of purchased season tickets in the first months of our work on the fingers.
But many customers, having tried, stayed with us for a long time. Today FITMOST is the largest training site in Russia and the CIS: more than 30,000 entries are made through our service every month.
Now there are more and more large corporations among our clients . Employers began to understand that the prevention and promotion of a healthy lifestyle among employees is much cheaper than their treatment.
The client buys a subscription on the website or through the application (virtual subscription - no plastic cards).
Further, the user can choose from hundreds of different classes in various fitness studios and sports clubs (among the available areas are cycling, swimming, crossfit, meditation, floating and others), as well as visit the services of wellness centers.
The price of a subscription depends on the number of points and the validity period. Subscriptions for 30, 60 and 100 points are valid for a month, subscriptions for 200, 500 and 1,000 points are designed for 3, 6 and 12 months, respectively. On average, the "cost" of one lesson is 7 points. If necessary, points can be bought or renewed.
In three years, the FITMOST team grew from 5 to 32 people. The active growth of our team began from last year, with the growth of business, my responsibilities also changed. A year ago, I could make up my own email newsletter. Today, my tasks include business development, and I am also the ideological inspirer of the team. I spend much less time in the office and more at events, meetings and conferences.
The entire project team is active users of the service. Every day, employees go to training: in the mornings we have joint classes (this helps to maintain the corporate spirit), in the evening each employee can go to the class that he chooses. This improves both mental well-being (everyone finds something for everyone) and physical fitness (thanks to regular training).
For me, sport is an integral part of life. Since childhood, I liked the variety: I was engaged in tennis, swimming, taekwondo.
In my opinion, the business owner simply needs to be the ambassador of his product. FITMOST is what I live and use every day, because initially I created this service for myself and people like me.
It is important that over time the relevance of your decision grows rather than falls.