Mobilizing Customers to Create a Movement: Virtuagym Saves Gym Owners and Trainers from Ruin

Episode 42 February 17, 2021 00:56:31
Mobilizing Customers to Create a Movement: Virtuagym Saves Gym Owners and Trainers from Ruin
The Breakout Growth Podcast
Mobilizing Customers to Create a Movement: Virtuagym Saves Gym Owners and Trainers from Ruin

Feb 17 2021 | 00:56:31


Show Notes

Few industries have been hit harder by Covid-19 than gyms, but despite the lockdowns and forced closures, many have actually weathered the storm. In this week’s episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, we will find out how one company helped make that possible, and why their growth approach was crucial in supporting clients through these turbulent times. Daan Bakker is VirtuaGym’s VP of Growth and in our conversation, he explains that the company started with an app, and grew into an all-in-one tool that helps gyms and trainers navigate everything from scheduling to workout plans.


Many of those tools would have been useless if Covid closed their client’s doors and disconnected members from their gyms. But VirtuaGym had been growing internationally with 50 - 100% YoY returns for a reason. They were quick to innovate and whether it meant helping gyms schedule Zoom workouts, or building interactive connections between trainers and clients, they were up to the task. Daan also spun up the company’s FitNation podcasts and webinars, which focus on helping fitness entrepreneurs find the tools and approaches to move forward and grow through Covid.


These pivots have all been about putting the focus on VirtuaGym’s clients (and their client’s customers) and that has helped drive growth in the face of adversity. A big part of that has been the growth team’s unique ability to influence fast change within the organization.
Daan says when he joined the company had many functional silos, but the more he and his team interjected themselves and found ways to show results, the more effective they have been in driving cross-functional success.


We discussed:


* How VirtuaGym looks to deliver on a promise to make fitness professional’s lives easier by automating everything in one place (2:34)


* Why success means not just helping customers, but helping their customers too (6:45)


* How the founders’ story and the company’s original app-based approach developed (7:02)


* Compliance and Covid-19; how VirtuaGym became an integral link for gyms and trainers (9:25)


* Spinning up the FitNation Webinars and Podcasts to help the community navigate the crisis (13:20)


* The future of gyms beyond the pandemic (16:00)


* VirtuaGym’s successful SaaS model growth (22:55)


* The Growth Team’s critical role as the “oil’ between departments (29:25)


* How bringing value in growth became a powerful tool in breaking down silos (37:47)



And much, much, more . . .

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis interviews, leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis. Speaker 1 00:00:24 This week's episode of the breakout growth podcast. We look at virtual gym, a company that is helping gyms shuttered by the pandemic to reopen their virtual doors. Our conversation is with VP of growth. Dan bakers. He explains that the company started as an app and grew into an all in one system that helps gyms and trainers navigate everything from scheduling to work out plans. Even before the pandemic virtual gym was growing 50 to a hundred percent year over year when the pandemic struck, they were able to build a tight community with gym owners and trainers to help them navigate the challenges Don led the way by launching webinars and the fit nation podcast. So before we jump in, I wanted to let you know that we've opened signups for the second cohort of go practice, which will begin live sessions on March 10th. Go practices the immersive simulator for learning growth combined with weekly live sessions that are run with former Facebook data scientists, Oleg, Cuban cough. And for this cohort, we've added a new skills assessment test to help you identify where your blind spots are. So you can focus your time developing these skills and speed through the sections where you're already strong. So you can learn [email protected]. And that's the companion website for this podcast. Or you can go directly to go Now let's jump in with Don and find out how virtual gym is accelerating its growth and reopening its client story. Speaker 0 00:02:00 Hi, Don. Welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Speaker 2 00:02:03 Hi. Hi Sean. Speaker 1 00:02:06 Yeah, it's uh, it's great to have you on here. And as you mentioned, yeah, Ethan is on here as well. So Ethan, uh, is my cohost. Speaker 2 00:02:14 Hey, thank you. So, um, Speaker 1 00:02:17 Yeah, really excited to hear the virtue of Jim's story. Um, maybe before we talk about the growth side of things, you can just give us a quick introduction to what virtual gym is and the problem, Speaker 2 00:02:27 Whatever you feel like will help the listeners get their head around around virtual gym a little bit. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So what first your team is like a software solution and we serve personal trainers to big gym chains. Like for example, from the personal trainer to the biggest gym chain in Europe, it's called basic fifth and we help them to yeah. To connect with our clients. So basically our promise is like fitness professionals lives to make it easier because everything is automated and workplace, uh, admin tasks, membership, tracking, bookings, billing organization, workout plans. Basically when you start a gym, you need some equipment, we call it iron in the business and you need a location. And that last that's the last thing that fitness entrepreneurs think about. You need software so that we could, we come in and we arrange everything. And some big clients that work with us in the U S is like work on any time, exports, fitness, uh, YMCAs, for example, why MCA greater New York and the, yeah, that's the UK and the U S and then in Europe we have in Germany, we have like a Mrs. Sporty, some big lines in the, in the UK and France also. So that's an, in a nutshell. Speaker 1 00:03:40 Cool. So, so just to make sure I'm understanding, right. So it's kinda like in any time as small business w w would get maybe a bookkeeping solution might be a, um, FreshBooks or QuickBooks, and then maybe a CRM solution, like a HubSpot, um, you're doing, you're, you're kind of combining those with other specialized things that, that a GM would really need, like, like managing the workouts, but you're, you're sort of an all in one software package for gyms, so, right. Speaker 2 00:04:09 Exactly. And then am we all to call us the Android of fitness? And we also connect with other products, like, for example, class boss that can also sing the bookings, the clause was bookings with your own schedule so that the guests that come into class or not, uh, yeah. Are note all in one place and maybe, uh, yeah, one of the best things that we offer and a Jim's a really needed, it's like you have all these big, big, we have big tack of course, right? So we offer also an app to a gym. So even if you're the gym around the corner, you can have your own app and the app store and your own branding and everything. And that's something that the clients actually really, really love, like to have this branding for by themselves. So that's really cool. Yeah. So that's pretty interesting. Speaker 2 00:04:54 Tell us a little bit about your backstory and the company's backstory. So maybe first about myself, I got into growth and, uh, coming into growth. I, uh, yeah, I went to more school, so it's not the most logical way, but I finished law school and my masters at Ford in Israel and Tel Aviv is of course, a big startup hub as it is. And yeah, I stayed in Israel and joined a startup that was about the live score in soccer. And yeah, I joined, there was employee number eight and, and the after three years, we 55 people, the marketing team or 15 people, 11 nationalities that I was leading and three 65 school was the leading life score app in the latter, in the Latin world, the Arab world, Israel, and also big market share in the Europe and then North ham. And there, I learned basically everything from product marketing. Speaker 2 00:05:50 And I got maybe because it was about soccer, I got really passionate about this because I probably, or maybe I'm curious, have you guys see it, but when you join a small company, that is very, that is an app, a soccer app, life score app. Now you need to touch up on everything like product marketing, and then yeah, you do marketing, but it's still very product related because that's your product. And then, yeah. So that's how it started that I went back to, uh, I got on a very interesting offer in the Netherlands from four, three, three, it's like the biggest, most engaged, uh, Instagram community in the world. Uh, even bigger than the big names, like a Kim Kardashian on all the it's about the engagement, not the amount of followers and the, yeah. There, I jumped on the, on that train. And then from a, not a shorter than that, uh, something like indeed, I went to virtual gym like two years ago and I'm really excited to be part of the virtual gym because we really have the customer and not only our customer, we help, we help the gym to serve their numbers. Speaker 2 00:06:56 And, and, and that's really cool to be like B2B and B2C at the same point. So, uh, yeah, that's really cool. And how, how virtual gym started? It started by two brothers, Paul in Hugo around 12 years ago, we made an yeah. They made something like a Nintendo week. So they already believe 12 years ago. And like VR and fitness and monetizing, B2C is always a challenge. Especially in that time they were one of, and then they developed an app, they had one of the first fitness apps in the stores. Nobody even knew it wasn't an app store back then they got more and more requests from gyms like, Hey, can we buy your solution? And of course that monetization is easier. So then they turned around and went like B2B to create software for gyms in the, but it all started with this app. And this app is still the central place for the gym member to go to and track their, for example, their foods. We have a connected food app to track their body composition through maybe a, an integration with in-body like, it's all this kind of stuff. It all comes back at one place, one home screen where they can navigate everything for the gym, from booking a class, seeing where the schedule is creating an own workout schedule for themselves, tracking the steps, all of it in one place bumbled. So that's it basically. Speaker 3 00:08:21 So yeah, the physical gym industry, it was really hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. And, you know, many of your clients, you said are gyms, how has that impacted or changed the business? Uh, you know, what does growth look like over the last year or two? So Speaker 2 00:08:36 This was actually actually very interesting what you say, like the brick and mortar gyms app they had to in a lot of countries and the Netherlands, and at this moment, the gyms are closed, like the same, the same as restaurants and that kind of stuff. But, uh, it was kind of interesting that the restaurants were closed. The jobs shops were closer than Alice, but the gyms were open. And so it was basically the only thing you could do was go to the gym. And, uh, yeah, I was also been involved in that, talking to the association that see how the rules evolve, but yeah, the gyms had to become, had to also go align, right. And this is the actually cool part. Virtual gym is the online solution for these brick and mortar gyms. So yeah, we, and we haven't really adapted to it. So for example, we launched something called Corona features, and this is the features that yeah. To match the regulations that you have for reopening with Corona, for example, in the Netherlands, you need to have, uh, it's allowed to have 50 people in your gym, 50 people in a location, but people need to match it is of course in software. And you need to pre-book and answer questions that you don't have COVID problems. So yeah, we automated all of that and that's really helped when the gyms reopened to be, to be ready for Corona. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:10:02 No, that makes a lot of sense that, that, um, the it's, it's almost like the compliance piece that the, like the compliance fits really nicely with the rest of your offering and, and, uh, normally gyms don't have a ton of compliance that they would have to think about, but for, for COVID they definitely do. Speaker 2 00:10:19 And, and adding good data. Also, we, we launched like, uh, online workouts within the app, like could be connected to all my workouts with zoom or Hangouts to the schedule. So the clients were used to use the schedule to book the class, and now they book it and they also attended within our app life. And next to that, we also have like, uh, we also implemented on demand video offering. So you have kind of like a Netflix for sports in the, in the app of your gym. So even your gym is closed. Your clients still have a touchpoint with yeah. With your app because it's your brand. And there, they watch videos on demand on one hand, but also do the work live classes where the instructor that I know by name and see normally after week twice, Speaker 1 00:11:07 You, um, do you feel like these changes? So I see you've been at the company about two years, you said, Speaker 2 00:11:12 Yes. Yes. This monster. Speaker 1 00:11:15 So if you kind of take the progression, like the almost half that time has been been COVID, uh, COVID times for you. So, um, you, you probably would have evolved the approach to growth during, during your time there. Anyway, do you feel like the evolution that you've you've taken with with COVID is going to affect how you approach growth for virtue of Jim going forward? Or will you, will you go back to a lot of what you were just doing before once, once COVID is over? Speaker 2 00:11:45 Yeah. That's a very interesting question. Like, uh, I think we get through that in a, in a bit, like we started with this webinar initiative and I think this was, yeah. This business now different in my job than pre COVID. Let's say it like that. So we're active in a couple of markets. Spain is one, uh, as one of them and in Spain was the first look down in as what was one of the first lockdowns in Europe or in the world maybe. And because that market was closed down, we were like, okay, what do we need to do? Because I was managing the, the country managers for, uh, for several countries. And it was like, yeah, we should be shooting holes. We should facilitate something that we can talk about it, and entrepreneurs can share their worry and also come a bit like, yeah, what can they do moving forward? Speaker 2 00:12:38 And what are the rules that are going to be in place? For example, uh, the question, should you keep billing your member as a club owner? You know, all these type of questions. And yeah, we started with that in Spain immediately. Like I think the look done was on Monday in Spain, Friday, we did a webinar in Spanish and the next week we did it in English, Dutch, German, French. So then we had the ball rolling for five languages a week, a webinar to inform people because the gyms were closed. There were like, yeah, what can I do? Like, and there was this guy, this guy that doing a webinar, this company, and we got like so many signups without even putting marketing budget in it, but they just wanted to, Speaker 4 00:13:23 The webinars are targeted to gym owners or gym management, Speaker 2 00:13:26 Let's say Jim entrepreneurs. But, uh, yeah, if you are a personal trainer in a gym, you can also learn from it. So yeah, we got over the past year, we brought like 17, almost 17,000 signups and 10,000 life at, in these and these webinars. And, and this was all like a kind of like, yeah, there was no, no marketing budget, all organic with, with sending invites on the newsletter, promoting, promoting through partners. So yeah, this actually really changed my job because, you know, if something becomes a success as a growth project yeah. You keep doing it. Right. And yeah, it also meant like, yeah, we didn't have a country manager and not alone. So then, uh, yeah, I became a webinar host and I really enjoy it. Um, and I, each person that I call and ask to join the webinar, they're like, yeah. So cool that you asked me, like, people are really flattered by it, but also say like, yeah, I watched it. I know you, you, the blonde guy. So, uh, it's really fun. And pre pre COVID. Speaker 4 00:14:30 Do you think a webinar would have been something that would have actually been effective for your business at all? Or, or, or maybe not? Speaker 2 00:14:38 I think, I think that this is my personal opinion. I think the, the, what people want and what they see as valuable change because of growth, right. Everybody works from home. Uh, I it's, it's, it's the same for you guys. You're in zoom meetings all day. You're not meeting people physically and before, especially with the gyms, like events were important. I have the Ursa, maybe in the U S you know, if we are feeble here in Europe, like that was a big thing for us, you know, you have an event. So what we did is we turned the event team into a team that facilitates webinars to work on that, on that success. And especially in the Netherlands, we really build out that brands. And for example, uh, when there were due regulations, uh, in place in December, we got 700 sign-ups. And I had there the director of the Dutch fitness association association, but because we built a brand, we had 10 times more sign-ups, uh, now 10 times or 20 times more signups than the association, because we own that domain now, as it is. Speaker 2 00:15:48 And yeah, just analysis a small country, we had like more than 5,000 people live in these webinars. Yeah. And that's like, Oh yeah, I don't say the whole market, but it's a big chunk. So it's amazing. Yeah. We were seeing this digital transformation in the fitness space already. I mean, Sean actually interviewed mirror CEO and they got bought by Lululemon. So we saw like, uh, connected fitness was changing how the world of fitness as a whole. Um, but the, obviously as you're pointing out, coronavirus has changed the whole landscape. What do you think virtual Jim's role is going to be as this change progresses after the vaccine? Where do you think you guys are set and what will growth look like in the future? So actually added the preferences of the consumers changing. Right. So I, but I also expect, expect, especially in the gym space, is that people, when they feel that it's safe, again, they will go back to the gym. Speaker 2 00:16:45 But then instead that a guy or a girl, we went to the gym before four times a week, we'll now go maybe three times, and then this forced, I want to do something on demand. Right. And you have a big players as a big tech, Apple, uh, joining into it. Uh, but also like, yeah, if you can offer that as a gym, I think it's very, very interesting. And because big tech is offering this, it's also opening something right. For the local gym to yeah. To also you see that, that the people want it, so you should also offer it. Right. And we help out the gym with that. So I think that's, that's awesome. But yeah, Speaker 1 00:17:28 That makes a lot of sense just because, um, you know, I think even before, even before the pandemic, the convenience of, of kind of on-demand at home was, was growing quite a bit. But I, I do know a lot of people like that community of, of, of the gym experience as well and having multiple providers. I mean, the fact is I pay probably as much for my Peloton as I would for a lot of gym memberships. And so carrying both of those doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense. So, so if you can have kind of a centralized provider of your, of your fitness and, and offer it in either in-person or on demand, I think that it's going to make a lot of sense. Um, so question on just kind of like how you guys are, are funded. Are you, are you a VC back company or how bootstrapped, how have you, how have you been, uh, keeping, keeping the lights on in the business or maybe, you know, bootstrap profitable? What's the, uh, what's the way that you guys are funded? Speaker 2 00:18:25 Yeah, we were VC funded and, uh, it's actually a funny story, how I went from this VC to virtual Virgin because, uh, my previous company went bankrupt and, uh, this was national news. And then that was, it was a big, uh, it was the biggest job platform. And I also saw what can go wrong when you scale too fast and you don't have the right things. Yeah. The right processes and KPIs in place, and it can also go wrong. So I learned a lot from that journey and that was my previous job. And then, uh, yeah, one of, uh, yeah, a friend of mine who works for that VC, that is part of the virtual. And he's like, Dan, you always, uh, you work in these app things and the, I think you should talk to virtual gym once. So then the next day I spoke to the CBO and, uh, yeah, the day after that I spoke with the CEO and then, uh, yeah, within 40 hours, I signed the job because I had such a good connection with both of them and that the CEO people Brown, he, he really has a vision and, and we really connected well and still, yeah, we do a lot of stuff together and figuring out stuff like where we should go as a company. Speaker 2 00:19:38 So, uh, yeah, that's why I'm really enjoying it. Speaker 1 00:19:41 So one of the things you just brought up there, I thought it was pretty interesting that, that, um, the learnings that you got from, from the company that, uh, went bankrupt, that was like, uh, you know, it sounds like it was on a successful track and, and, and didn't, um, and, and I wasn't able to keep going, what do you think is the biggest difference between that company and virtue of Jim in terms of, in terms of sort of sustainability of the virtual gym model? Speaker 2 00:20:06 Yeah, for sure. Now the big thing is that, uh, if you, if you, if you think about like the metrics that you measure, I have a clear North star metric for us it's MRR, but in that, in the previous company, we didn't have that. And we started there, they were already in the business for, I think, five, six years, but it was like all freelancers. And then the CEO, the founder, who was successful with the company before and cashed out with that yeah. Big time. So he founded it himself and he wanted to go so fast that, for example, we already had a Polish country manager, but we didn't a website of bullish. Like yeah. That becomes a challenge, you know? And, um, yeah, we, we, we're not looking to these metrics as a company. And I really like at virtual gym, we have, uh, the last day of the week, Friday five o'clock we have a Waldo and it's called a world domination. Speaker 2 00:21:05 And then the CEO's hosted. And, uh, one week the growth department does a talk one week, the marketing department, one week sales, et cetera, et cetera. And everybody keeps engaged and involved and pre COVID. So when we were working in the office, we had that, we did that once a month, uh, and in a big room where everybody was together. And when we went working, working from home, we still do this every week. And I think that's really important to keep, keep having clear what are the metrics, have the data in place and be informed about what everybody is doing. You know, you have a clear North star, where do we want to go? And, uh, so what Speaker 1 00:21:48 Is, what is that North star for you guys? Speaker 2 00:21:50 So for now it's like a MRR, so monthly recurring revenue. So that means the amount of licenses that we sell to, uh, to gyms basically. And, um, and, and of course, a lot of people can connect to that. Like, w it's it's about revenue than Indiana then, but we're also looking into to make that maybe a bit more, uh, yeah. Speaking to it for some, imagine if you're a product, a product guy, or maybe you're a developer. Yeah. MRR, they don't, yeah. It's not so touchy for them. Let's say like that. So it's not very inspiring. That's the right word. So, so we are now, we're now like in a project, uh, with a couple of people to see like, Hey, let's have that MRR always in place, but also maybe think about monthly active users, weekly active users inspire also the tech side of it more. And I look over the commercial teams. Right, Speaker 1 00:22:54 Right. And so you just touched on the business model as well, talking about the revenue and the monthly recurring revenue. Is it, so is it sold as a kind of recurring, uh, kind of SAS model or how what's the what's, how do you guys actually make money? Speaker 2 00:23:08 Yeah. W we are a SaaS solution. We're really the software for, we are software for the gym and they pay a monthly subscription to it. And it's based on the amount of locations and amount of members. And then we have different packages, like a membership and apps, coach membership, and management, coaching and apps. So on one side, for example, the billing, and on the other side, it's more the app with a, where people come through the workout plans. And, uh, but mostly we sell the all in one solution because to have everything in one place, that's what people want. Right. And that's also a general trends we see, uh, yeah. In this space, I think. Speaker 1 00:23:47 Okay. That makes sense. And then in terms of the, um, like obviously you've had a lot of, uh, transformation from COVID that we talked about, but, um, I assume growth was pretty good before COVID as well, or, or, or was, COVID just sort of something that, that just really drove the business. And it was, it was okay before, but it got really good with COVID. Speaker 2 00:24:10 No, no, it's already for five years, it's like on a, on a good, on a good pace, like between 5150% year over year. Speaker 1 00:24:19 So what do you think was driving that success like even before COVID Speaker 2 00:24:23 Yeah, I think it's, it's, it's the product market fit and to have an all in one solution. Right. So when you're a gym, gym owner or the gym manager, you see what's happening in your gym, the amount I have, we have also an analytics module, so they can track the performance, but also being able to do everything, basically half a workout plans to a schedule, two billing your clients to have an app for the end-user. So, yeah. Yeah. One, one piece of software to run your gym in a nutshell. So with that, what are like the key challenges that have come to mind that you've had to overcome, you know, especially in the last year to last year. Yeah. Like, uh, of course you, you, you need to always have like a new ways to fill the pipeline that is after you're a SAS company. Speaker 2 00:25:13 And, and one was like, uh, yeah, like the Netherlands, we were one of the biggest, but to go, for example, into another country, like you need to build out that brand and, and people get to know you. So we are also starting to work a bit more with influencers, uh, to get that, to get your name out there, you know? And, uh, I see that we're really, that's really being successful. And also on the content side, like share the success, you know, uh, create more success cases. And I I'm coming back to the webinars again, because it's also really important and really a tool that we got that, you know, that authority, when people wanted to learn about COVID in Germany, they went to the virtual gym webinar while maybe before it, and then the viewer of up, they did a hero bone virtual gym, but the virtual gym got the president of the German or European associates association. And yeah, from there, they, yeah, they promoted also that for half an hour, we give them a platform they learn. And yeah, that was a very, a very good way. And adding to that, uh, that's how we call it here in the Netherlands. After six months, everybody was a bit, uh, Corona tire, right? Speaker 2 00:26:32 So, uh, now we had a really, I think we did a very good job by tweaking this virtual gym webinar to, to the, we, it now the fit nation webinar and why it's called fit nation of, we have a yearly conference in English and Amsterdam, and this is the annual fitness conference that brings together the brightest minds of the industry for education, inspiration, and innovation. There wasn't really something like that for you in Europe, but there were also a lot of American speakers, American guests. Then we have Brian O'Rourke as a big English speaker there. We had the CEO of a basic fits. What's the biggest chain in Europe. So we had really good speakers there. And there, we lounge that event next to our own brand to be more independent, uh, at that. And we also implemented that the webinars. So we have now to fit nation webinar, spot app possible made by virtual agent, but we even connected other sponsors to it as sponsors slash partners. So we really switched it to fit nation, to be more like an independent platform where people can learn and, and, uh, in the Netherlands, in the U S we do this weekly, and we say every week at 12 o'clock on Thursday, we go live and you can log in and ask questions. And we really see every week hundreds of signups and yeah. Through that platform, it also, yeah, it also got like a new group. Yeah. A new growth loop, like, like people that are not there, Speaker 3 00:28:09 It sounds like, uh, growth has really been a product of, of experimentation and trying these new things, especially in this last year. It sounds like you have a really close relationship with the CEO and you can talk about these ideas and, and have discussions, I guess that's, uh, has to be super helpful in affecting change, but it sounds like your role has adapted a lot. Um, but can you tell us a little bit more about how the teams are organized, how you're organized around product marketing and growth and kind of where you fit in and how that's changed? Speaker 2 00:28:39 Yeah, for sure. For sure. So if you then take like a, the, you know, the product growth marketing and the customer success team. So, uh, yeah, the marketing team is mainly focused on like an <inaudible> marketing, qualified leads too. And then, uh, the product team is delivering the features building it. And, uh, the sales team is of course, uh, doing, doing the sale that makes that's pretty clear. And we also have like an SDR team, so we'll look of, uh, cold cooling. Uh, so basically clients can go through this as the are, follow let's, call it like that. And, uh, the marketing follow-up, and then, uh, customer success, it's like onboarding the clients. And when they're onboarded, when they have problems, they can be Southwest to the customer service team. And the growth team is a bit, uh, overlapping and connecting between these different departments. Um, and, and our company, it's the oil between the departments. Speaker 2 00:29:41 So pre COVID, we structured that with country managers and like a growth, uh, manager, but now we switched that basically to more like focus on partnerships in general, someone for North, someone for Europe, uh, and customer and product marketing, and next that the webinars. And I, I think that customer and product marketing, or let's go to just product marketing for now. It's something that, yeah, that, that could be, I think that's going to be like maybe the next thing or something, because companies are not only talking about virtual gym, but in general, they really focus till someone as a CLI has signed the deal and then maybe gets a very good onboarding process. But what happens with them? How are they nurtured from a marketing perspective when they are a client, right. How are the new products lounged? How does the product team market themselves within the organization? Speaker 2 00:30:40 And yeah, I think, yeah, I think this is really, that's now a focus for me. And also as the growth team, we try to map out the whole funnel and facilitate with that. And yeah, and then you can also, you find, you look for these growth loops and, and for me, it's now, like if you keep delivering wild moments, aha moments, your clients, how you can upsell them, of course, but also they can have like a referral program. They can refer their friends in the business about the product. Like they're your ambassadors. Uh, you can have, they can help you to get books reviews because when you buy software at the websites like G2 crowd, Capterra, uh, even Google the reviews, it's very important. Uh, and for us, we even have also the app stores where we go through review. So to nurture these clients that yeah, but you make them happy and make, keep them giving new aha moments or the S with informing about the products you already have, or the launch of the products and get them from them reviews, referrals. So you get like a growth loop. Speaker 1 00:31:49 Yeah. So, so Don, one of the things that you said that jumped out to me was, um, that, uh, the growth team is kind of the, the oil between these different, uh, kind of departments in the company. So does it, how does that, so does it mean that your, a lot of what you're trying to achieve, you, you, you need to achieve kind of through influence and, and encouraging those, those teams to do the right thing without necessarily having the, um, kind of hierarchy of reporting where you tell them what to do, or how, how does, how does that relationship? Speaker 2 00:32:23 Yeah, very, very good question. So basically when, when I joined virtual gym, there was no growth department. And, uh, as a really startup guy, I joined virtual gym and it was like, you're now the head of growth, bring us some growth. So, so we have like a freemium product for like coaches. And then I dive into that because I think, yeah, if I crack that code that could bring a lot of value. Now I try to crack that code, then crack it. And then I was like, okay, what are we doing in marketing? How was the, how was, does the customer journey look like? Uh, for example, if we have people filling in a demo form on the website, right? They want the demo. So I looked at what can I tweak to improve it? And for example, we connected, uh, we measured, how long does it take from demo requests to demo? Speaker 2 00:33:17 That was not, that was our slash days where we all know if that's minutes, we will be more successful. And I really like to go in it sometimes and then find the right tool that I can connect to that form and Salesforce to get this callback time from maybe days to like minutes. So I found a tool, it was called the goaling li and when somebody fills in the form, the phone of the sales rep will ring and he picks up and then the customer gets cold. And yeah, so looking more to marketing and sales and yeah, influencing them actually like, Hey, what is, what is, what is the leap there? How can I help? Uh, and, and not in hierarchy that I had a big team in the beginning, I was by myself. And then I had the country managers, uh, during COVID we had a different approach. Speaker 2 00:34:07 And then it went also more into product. Like, uh, I think about activation as is a big thing that the I'm working on now, but also think about like, Hey, how are the commercial departments, their needs reflected in the roadmap, because sometimes it's, it's really siloed. And yeah, when you're a startup guy, you never experienced silos. Right. So if you've come up with a startup mindset in a scale of, at the beginning, people's thought like, why is he involving himself everywhere or giving his opinion, but it was like, it came from how with working two people together and convincing them. I really got that. Yeah. Got that info. I play that info influence cards in a good way. And I also feel that my counterpart is also open for it. Uh, yeah. So, yeah, so that, Speaker 1 00:34:58 I definitely think that's one of the hard parts of, of the job though, is get to, to influence without, without having people feel like you're stepping on their toes. Speaker 2 00:35:07 Yeah. I, I, to be honest, I think I cracked that code now. And in the beginning of us sometimes hard. And sometimes people say, what are, you're telling me, but if you, but if you show results, right. If it, if it makes sense, what you're saying, and you implement it, none of this successful, then if you come the next time, people think, Oh, maybe it has a, because it's actually like the growth mindset that seems from a different perspective to move forward. Or that that's something that I really learned in like, uh, the startup. So I actually, maybe, yeah, a cool thing to mention. Like, I, I talk with the sales reps on the floor with the CS reps, uh, to the CEO, like after each webinar, I call a client or the prospect and ask them how they, what they thought about it, you know, to learn from them and from, and to learn from that markets and coming from there, uh, I had the suggestion and it's implemented and it's facilitated by the product market here, or product owners talk every week. Speaker 2 00:36:05 They have a call with a us customer about a European customer. And there is, uh, the relevant product owner will join that it is his domain or her domain. And yeah, before this wasn't the place, right? You need to have this customer centric thinking to, to keep talking to your clients. And not only when they have a problem and reach out to you, but keep talking to them. And I really inserted this customer Sanford mindset. We launched something called the pioneer portals. We have no portals for each market where clients can go, can directly talk to product owners and product owners need to reply there. And then, Speaker 3 00:36:43 You know, Don, I mean, it's, it's amazing. It sounds like there's a lot of things going on to work together towards cross-functional alignment is that intentional word silos starting to grow. And you've actually had to like, you know, intentionally fight the silos or is it just been a natural progression? Speaker 2 00:37:01 I think, I think when they hired me, they had that thought in mind because they think the startup guy, yeah. Like if you're 25 people or 20 people, you don't, there are no silos. Right. You know, everybody by name and his birthday, you know exactly what everybody's doing. So it's not siloed yet. And I came with that, so I never expect, so for me and my role there, wasn't no silo, you know, uh, I just walked off to the, to the CS rep or to a developer like, Hey, why are we not doing this? And then I actually realized, Hey, there's this people told me this is not normal, what you're doing, but comment. But yeah, if you, if you earn, earn, yeah. If people see that you bring value that they want to listen. Right. Speaker 3 00:37:47 So the growth team is really like core to that. Cross-functional alignment. And then it sounds like you've layered on other things like the world domination meetings and things like that is that, are there other tools that are helping you really keep the break down those silos? Speaker 2 00:38:01 Yeah. That, uh, I B pre COVID and this was actually, we did like a kick of the, uh, for each quarter with the whole, uh, company. And then the last one, I actually so pre COVID the one, uh, yeah. Manager or someone in the management team will host it. So one time it's the VP sales one time is the VP role. So, uh, by hosting that for the whole company and we split them, uh, and yeah, half of the company in the morning, the other half in the afternoon, and have, again, it's about giving that and we did some interaction. So I think it was pretty funny. Uh, my tasks that I done invented was like, Hey, you, we make teams with people from all different departments from developer to product, to a customer service representative. And then we sat like, yeah, can you guys draft together a cold email? Speaker 2 00:39:02 And this input is called. He was at his people wrote, we actually used it after, because to get the cold email perspective from a customer service rep, who's there maybe four years, like it's really valuable. Uh, and also like that the marketing team talks more to customers. Uh, yeah. A good example is for example, we had a PR guy starting using the marketing theme and we had a kickoff, uh, introduction meeting. And the first thing I said, like a few to PR manager, like, uh, sounds, sounds very interesting to me, but do you know what a gym owner reads, you know, what are his preferences? Uh, so after that goal, like called to clients that, yeah, they sending me always a text on WhatsApp, down the system doesn't work and then I'm their ambassador. But when I have the PR guy starting, I give them a goal, Hey, my PM might be arm on it. Manager is going to give you a call to yeah. To hear from you. What, what is the media you consuming? You know, which websites do you visit? Which magazines do you read, et cetera, et cetera. It's really smart that I started my career in PR and I wish clients had, had done that for us instead of making us. Speaker 1 00:40:21 Yeah. So one of the things that you've, uh, touched on a couple of times is, is that the customer journey and the different loops in the business, um, I think kind of looking at it from the organizational perspective, do you feel like your, your understanding of that full customer journey and ultimately how the business grows with these different loops is something that is, is understood pretty broadly across the organization, or is that, is that also a part of your job in that growth role is trying to improve that understanding and get people on the same page about that? Speaker 2 00:40:55 Yeah, exactly. That like, uh, sometimes it's like, what does, what does this guy, what, what are your projects now? Or, or, and that's, it's very important, especially if you're in a role that you try to connect to different departments. I think that to show your wins and the visibility is like fairly important. Then for example, we launched the, the referral program, right? So, uh, how you need to add, we are in South or South, so then you love other SAS tools. Uh, so you find the right SAS tool, you have operations team helping to connect it to your Salesforce, the product marketeer to start working on the content, align it with marketing. If it's all the right messaging, uh, get finance approval for the payouts that you want to do, but also have a call to action actually in the product, in the portal that the gyms are working. Speaker 2 00:41:50 And then, uh, yeah, the, the last step is then, uh, uh, basically, uh, and then of course the automation after each while moment, they gather a question after each MPS score, that's a positive, they get the app. Do you want to leave? Uh, do you want to refer this product to your friends? And also now the last part, that's what we're working on now. Like, uh, if you want on a high growth path, maybe then just as automation is not enough. And, uh, it's not enough to mention it in the onboarding process. That's very a dedicated process, but maybe insert sales into it. You know, when they had a wow moment, maybe they shouldn't only get an email, maybe they should get a cool and maybe it's very valuable, uh, around this. Right. Speaker 1 00:42:40 I like that. Do you, um, do, do you feel like there's a, a really perfect time to ask for those referrals? Is there, is there kind of a set of actions that they've done in the product that, um, are maybe beyond field? Do you have data that, that supports that there's a perfect time to, uh, to, to ask for those referrals? Speaker 2 00:42:58 Uh, we, we have some things already in place, like for example, the MPS score connected to that, uh, they gather requests for referrals. So that's a trigger, that's very ADUs. We're working perfectly with the tools we're using. And now this is, this is something I'm working on. Now we know now we mapped out like, uh, or we're mapping out actually now these wow moments and that try to connect, because I think that's for a lot of companies, a challenge, right? So connected, like product usage with marketing and right. But that's something Speaker 1 00:43:31 The whole machine of just kind of get, you know, I mean, part of it, I, the, what I just asked you about earlier was kind of like, does, does the rest of the company understand that machine that, that kind of takes a customer from, from first hearing about virtual with Jim, to the point where they're this raving fan telling everyone they know about it, or at least telling other Jim, Jim involved people about it. Um, but the, you know, trying to break down and really understand that in the first place, it was actually pretty tough. Um, so, but I would be curious of kind of like, what is, what would be the typical path. So how does typically someone find out about it and then what are the steps that they go through to the point where they, they are that, that, um, evangelistic little evangelizing fan that, uh, that, that, that loves it and spreading the word about it? Speaker 2 00:44:20 Yeah, true. Because we have a very, it's an old one solution, right? So it's sending your, uh, your bills to the clients and managing that to building their work on plans. So we have a lot of very happy clients because if you, and this is also what I hear a lot of times when I talk to customers, when you're w you, you need to go through a phase about learning the product, right. And when you correct, when the customer knows how to use it, and they're going to be, and they keep using it there, our fan, and this is something that we really measure well, and that's like the time to value. So they need to hit something. This is a metric that is very important in the onboarding. And we're also helping out with that on the customer marketing side, you know, writing, writing deep life blocks about this. Speaker 2 00:45:11 Like, you have the difference between SEO, uh, and, and customer marketing. So deep, like blocks where you explain with good visuals and also share how other customers, how other customers were, uh, doing that. And we see the customers that are the most successful. We also have a community function, right? We have a community in the app, the clients will also use the community a lot. They see that helps them to build a community. And if you look in the space of fitness, CrossFit is a really good example of this community building, right. So we right to train people at clients with that, but also like the schedule, if a client always uses the schedule, uh, it's one of the core functionalities for, for gym. Right. I have a good schedule. Speaker 4 00:46:01 So just, I want to dig one, one more into that, uh, last question of just, how did, how do they typically discover it in the first place? Speaker 2 00:46:09 Yeah. So, uh, then, then I get back, like, people let's think that you, you are a personal trainer, right? You're coaching two to three friends. You be, and you get more money for most personal trainers. It's the ambition to have a gym. So then when they're a personal trainer, they may be still work with, uh, an Excel sheet and that, and these types of stuff. But when they open a gym, no, that they, besides the location and had the equipment, they need software to run the business, they know. And then, then they go for the look like, Hey, which, which software is there in the market as their friends. So if you already have a market share, you grow organically from that. And otherwise they go for the search, like, Hey, and every gym owner, uh, yeah. Has a different concept. Every gym owner thinks he has a unique concept and this needs are different, but yeah. Speaker 2 00:47:06 As you know, with SaaS solutions, uh, yeah. We know that from experience, by building it for so many clients, the basic needs are normally the same. Right. Uh, so then in that journey, they, they look for software to manage their schedule, to manage their bookings, to manage the invoices. And then they come to virtual job through, for example, content, uh, that we provide a lot, but also like ours, uh, the standard, the standard things, or an STR or another one that, that that's really growing. It's like through partnerships, because it could be that someone doesn't really have their own gym software, but they may be already using gloss boss. And then they see, okay, which software connects well with gloss pause. And then you can go to the cloud through glass pass to your own gyms offer, and not only have class pause visitors, but have also your own visitors basically. Speaker 1 00:48:03 Right. Yeah. I did the same thing like with, with FreshBooks and Gusto, like w which is for my payroll. And so being able to, you know, you're, whatever you're using, you want to make sure that, um, it plays well with something else. And so, like, I, I definitely found Gusto because I used FreshBooks. And so being able to kind of that, that ecosystem partner marketing makes a lot of sense. Speaker 2 00:48:29 Yeah. Don, thanks so much for kind of walking us through that journey. It's really, it's really fantastic. All the success you guys have had and where you've taken, where you're taking it. One last question. What do you feel like you understand about growth now that you didn't understand? Maybe a few years ago? Yeah. This is actually really funny. And, uh, last, the last month, uh, my previous, uh, company, they, they hit like 1 million reviews on Google play the three 60 fives for app. And, uh, I want to build that, that like automatically automated loop, right. Uh, people enjoy, uh, you know, you have to pop up in the app, they get five stars, boom, give a review. Now you'll, you'll know it. But at eight years ago, this was new stuff. So I see now, like, uh, three weeks ago they, they hit the 1 million reviews. Speaker 2 00:49:19 And I could see now that that process that I started eight years ago is now getting into that 1 million. I learned like growth is like a machine. And it's a process like the first five webinars man, the day before the webinar, I was going to sleep at one o'clock because I prepared a presentation and I put maybe a bit too much effort in it. But after a couple of times, uh, yeah, you, you, you know, you know that you need to have a goal. I'm making it very practical. Now you need to have a call two weeks before with the gas, so you can already start implementing it in your newsletter and for the association to promote it and form your partners to promote it. So, yeah, I believe that grows as a machine and going from startup to scale up it's more and more about processes. Uh, yeah. And, and influencing slash yeah, I call it, I'd rather call it buy-in than alignment, you know? Right. Speaker 1 00:50:20 For sure. I like that. Um, so yeah, I mean, that's, this is good. I, I think we could keep talking all day. Uh, I wanted to, to kind of give some of the key takeaways that I have from this conversation. Then if Ethan's got some additional ones or anything that he wants to echo on this, but, you know, for me, I, I, I really look at, um, the product market fit is what you've, what you've indicated is, is really a big driver of the success. And, and that makes a lot of sense that you've got, you've got this market of, of many, many gyms, and then you have all of these personal trainers that dream to have a gym. Um, and you know, um, most of the personal trainers that I've met are really good at training, but maybe don't have as much business experience. Speaker 1 00:51:02 And so being able to have an all-in-one solution that helps them on a navigate those things. And then it sounds like you've through these webinars and, and, uh, just resources that you've, you've really helped, uh, fill in the gaps, not just on, on how to run a gym in general, but how to, how to navigate those really hard time for gyms that that's been COVID. And it actually reminded me a lot of, um, something that I did when I was with log me in where we, we targeted small, uh, outsourced it shops. So it kind of often like just, uh, you know, a couple of people working from a garage supporting handfuls of small businesses. And what we found was that, um, the best way to engage our current customers and bring in a lot of new customers, was to take our most successful customers and get them to tell their story about how they've grown their it support business. Speaker 1 00:51:59 And we knew they were growing by how quickly they were adding new seats. And so being able to reach out to them, get them to talk about how they've grown their business, and the more they talk about how they've grown their business, they can't help, but talk about how our tool them scale and, and manage a much higher volume of business. And so rather than doing a webinar about our tool, which is how most marketers tend to think about it, we did a webinar about the thing they cared about was how do they grow their it support business and taking the people who've done it, not really well. And then having them explain how our tools we'll help them actually scale that business, um, was, was really effective in, in growing log me in and ultimately helped, uh, help, you know, part of the business grow that wasn't a part of the initial vision to the point where it was 50% and it sold for several billion dollars, uh, about a year ago that, that business. Speaker 1 00:52:53 So I I've seen that formula work really well, um, you know, 10 over a decade ago. And, and it's cool to see it still working now. And then I also liked that you talked about, you know, talking to clients and really the more that you qualitatively understand what's going on and, and are really focused on that time to value. Then, then you're much more likely to be able to have that lock-in, that leads to referrals and retain customers and just, and just builds that builds that engine going forward and also appreciated the insights on how you, how you interact with different teams to, to keep everyone pulling in the same Speaker 2 00:53:26 Direction. So Speaker 1 00:53:26 Those, those were my key takeaways. I don't know Ethan, any, anything else that jumped out beyond these Speaker 2 00:53:32 Definitely echo the, your thoughts on product market fit, what you really described as how much of an ally you are in your customer's growth. And it seems like the more we, we talked to companies where they are, you know, their solution is about helping their customer, uh, really realize their dreams, the more successful they are. So it's the fact that you say it's an all-in-one solution that gives real value for the gym owners. I think that's really, uh, a key takeaway for me. And then, uh, also, you know, describing yourself as the growth team is the oil between departments. I think, um, you said something that really stuck with me. It's just, you know, it's about getting people together with metrics and data and a clear North star metric, and then really pulling as a team. So I like that world domination meeting on Friday. I liked, uh, I appreciated that. Speaker 1 00:54:18 Great. So Don, any last words you want to want to share, um, about, about growth that you feel like you haven't yet? Speaker 2 00:54:25 Yeah, maybe just one thing. I really liked what you said. Like most, most companies do webinars about, about their tool, how awesome they are. But for me, like, I believe like inviting a good guest every week and not talk too much about yourself, right? It's not about you, it's about the people learn from them. And especially for, for example, people in the gym business, they're passionate about gym, about sports and not so much about business. So, so if I invite the CEO of a big chain and he can inspire the personal trainer, the personal trainer who wants also a gym chain, but firstly, to have one open their own location, I think that that is so it's, it's almost beautiful. Uh, yeah, so that, that, I think that one is a really, really good one. Speaker 1 00:55:16 I think one of the dynamics in your business in particular is that it's, it's such a local thing to have a gym that you, that, that they're probably more open to sharing with the other gyms, because it's not like they're necessarily empowering their competitors too much or giving, giving too much to their competitors. That's a, it's a community of gym owners that, um, can, can learn from each other. And there's more to gain from contributing to that then than trying to hoard information for your own little local market. But, uh, but again, we could, we could talk on this for forever. So I'm, I'm really appreciative that you've taken the time to share this story of how you guys are rapidly scaling virtual gym. Um, really congratulations again on the success that you've had. I'm excited to see where you guys take it from here, um, to everybody listening. Thanks for tuning in. And we look forward to the next one. Speaker 0 00:56:08 Thanks you guys. It was a pleasure. Thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and while you're at it subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.

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