Startup Spotlight is an interview series showcasing early-stage health, fitness, and wellness companies.
In this Q&A, we caught up with Volt Athletics co-founder and CEO Dan Giuliani to learn more about his company’s AI-powered fitness app. We discuss the tech behind Volt’s personalized workouts, tools for fitness professionals, and how the company scaled to 1.6M users around the world.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at Volt Athletics?
Dan Giuliani: Volt is an intelligent fitness software company. We help everyone, everywhere in the world, access amazing training guidance. Whether their goal is sport performance, weight loss, gaining strength, or even achieving longevity in physically demanding occupations, like firefighting and law enforcement, Volt can help.
Through the Volt mobile app, users have access to hundreds of personalized training plans built by CSCS-certified strength coaches, designed for any type of goal or activity and customized to the user’s experience, age, gender, and environment.
It’s a dynamic training experience that adapts to each user as they progress. Through Cortex, Volt’s proprietary fitness training AI, real-time adjustments are made to each training session, ensuring that every user gets the right expert guidance each time they work out. The AI allows training pros to assess their clients’ movements and reps as they happen, regardless of physical proximity.
Meanwhile, the Volt Team Platform gives fitness professionals all the tools needed to manage and scale their business. Coaches and trainers can automate back-office admin work, customize training programs, expediently manage hundreds to thousands of clients, and track outcomes at a glance.
Our pros know getting a client sweaty or sore isn’t the challenge; the hard part is getting them to buy into the long-term plan, to see the value in modifying load and intensity on a day-to-day basis, and to understand why or how workouts progress over time.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
DG: When I was working as a strength coach in the private sector, I saw firsthand how inaccessible high-quality training was for most people outside of elite athletes, wealthy families, and unusually lucky individuals. This was the spark behind Volt.
We wanted to build technology that could enable anyone, anywhere, to access practical, intelligent, world-class training guidance, effectively bridging the gap between the expertise of the fitness professional and the functionality of a workout app.
All too common, one-size-fits-all workout programs in the app marketplace don’t deliver the bespoke, goal-specific, science-backed training that fitness professionals can deliver. Most scalable options lack personalization and specificity. So, we built a platform to deliver personalized training at a global scale.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
DG: Initially, my co-founder and I worked on Volt as a side project. We built a prototype and went out to find 10 customers (initially sports teams) to beta test. After receiving great feedback, we decided to take it to market. 9 of our 10 beta testers became paid customers, and from there, our customer base grew organically.
We spent countless hours face to face with coaches, discussing, testing, evaluating, and iterating to solve their real-world problems. As we’ve grown, we have kept this customer-centric growth strategy at the forefront; we’re here to solve real-world problems.
From a funding perspective, we bootstrapped the business until about a year in market before raising seed capital from angels to accelerate growth. To date, we have been entirely funded through individual investors and growing revenue.
Our lean team at Volt HQ in Seattle consists of 28 employees—with one-third owning a fitness certification—serving 1.6M users in 154 countries.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
DG: Big picture, we seek to service a global market: anyone who wants a workout plan to help them reach their goals.
We have been serving sports teams and schools since 2013, and our opportunity to reach a broader audience opened with the introduction of our groundbreaking mobile app in 2017. Since then, we have been working with large groups via corporate wellness programs, embedding in healthcare systems, and deploying to tactical athletes across US military branches, law enforcement agencies, and fire/EMS departments.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
DG: Our core customer is the individual, coach, or organization looking for goal-based training. We have been consistently growing and expanding by not only delivering programs to individuals through our direct-to-consumer efforts but also by offering an extensive suite of tools to enable fitness professionals to deliver their expertise to more clients, no matter where they are.
The Volt Team Platform has really enabled us to scale access to large groups through both partnerships and B2B sales. We have put in a lot of work developing case studies for use, championing individual users and sharing customer success stories. In fact, our most active internal slack channel is our #volt_family_wins, where we post links to users’ social posts, share feedback we get via our support and sales teams, and talk about how incredible our Volt Family is!
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
DG: We have a huge launch currently underway: a major communication feature that will unlock real-time chat and video messaging, enhancements to coach program design and customization tools, analytics, and an incorporation of more holistic health and wellness content.
We have landed some large partnerships this year with brands and organizations that complement our fitness plan offerings, enabling them to bring their expertise to their users 24/7/365. We can give the user the exact plan to follow for the 30–90 minutes they dedicate to physical training, and our partners can provide the expert guidance needed the other 23 hours of the day. We’re excited to bring these updates to our users in the coming months.