Startup Q&A: Fitr CEO Leon Cassidy

Fitr

In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Leon Cassidy, founder & CEO of Fitr, creators of remote coaching software for fitness professionals. Leon discusses simplifying the user experience and how endorsements from star CrossFit athletes have driven user acquisition.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on at Fitr?

Leon Cassidy: Fitr is an all-in-one remote coaching software that allows fitness coaches to build globally scalable online businesses.

Our technology automates all of the back-office admin functions, such as payments and program delivery, which allows our coaches to spend more time acquiring new clients and growing their businesses.

Simplicity and automation are at the core of everything we do. Fitr has an integrated back-office finance function—powered by the leader in its field, Stripe—with automated delivery of training plans in a clean and easy-to-use platform.

We don’t build 1,001 features when we know coaches want 101. Instead, Fitr does those 101 features really, really well. We’ve built hands-down the best UI on the market. The platform is continually evolving and responding to the market, which is becoming more and more demanding in terms of expectations.

How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?

LC: I spent many years frustrated with the traditional way coaches delivered their training, often receiving training plans as PDFs or in Excel, then being invoiced manually. In this digital age, I thought an analog approach could be avoided.

I noticed that successful online coaching businesses were selling their services more like products, with a variety to choose from, much like a retail shop has different clothes and sizes. The legacy software platforms on the market, I felt, made it hard for smaller coaches to adopt the same method and scale their businesses.

The very first high-level goal was: “How do we let coaches make more money from the 24 hours in a day?”

How did you turn your idea into a company?

LC: We took a slightly different approach for a SaaS business. With large players already in the market, we knew we couldn’t go pound for pound against them on marketing spend. So, we stayed true to the concept of the product and invested nearly every penny we had into a comprehensive MVP.

Rather than spending money on digital advertising through Google, Facebook, and Instagram, we went after the larger, influential customers in our market who would be amazing advocates and distributors of our product for us. Our view was, and still is, that the market looks to see what platform each other is using.

We had early assurance this view was correct when CrossFit athletes Emma McQuaid and Steven Fawcett adopted the platform. With their endorsement, to date, we’ve managed to win over the vast majority of the large CrossFit-style coaching providers in the UK, Europe, and, more recently, the US with the partnership of Mat Fraser and HWPO Training.

We’re now seeing the fruits of that tactic as the wider market starts to adopt the platform too, even from non-typical coaching providers like Gymbox, a PE-backed chain of high-end gyms in London, and WIT Fitness, a leading training retailer.

By the time we came to fundraise, we had a fully operational business model and real confidence we had something unique backed up with some great case studies.

Even so, the moment someone else is willing to back that idea you’ve created in your mind as an investable business is a real high. When we got Mat Fraser over the line with a big portion of the seed raise, we were really happy.

We’ve now taken on two more senior management staff members, increased our digital strategy, and expanded the development team.

How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?

LC: These businesses are really attractive due to their underlying simplicity and significant cash generation at scale.

It’s difficult to put an accurate measure on the remote coaching software market, partly because it’s still a nascent space that is rapidly growing every year. We’ve seen research forecasting it to be a $5.5BN market by 2029, but I think that’s probably a bit of astrology for analysts.

Realistically, based on our internal numbers and some industry knowledge of past sales, we expect to be at a $50–100M valuation in three to five years depending on which forecast scenario we achieve.

We believe that capturing the market comes from a variety of avenues, but endorsements from the top end of the industry is incredibly powerful. Every time we bring on another big name, we see a bump in numbers and the knock-on effect of more people knowing who we are and what we do.

Word of mouth is, I would say, our biggest asset. The product we deliver has been consistently recommended by the people who have used it — our customers love to tell others about what we do for us.

Obviously, there is still a space for digital marketing, but we don’t want to be dependent on it. I think everyone has seen over the course of the last few years that if you build a model based on customer acquisition costs of X, and then Facebook or Instagram shift their algorithm so that costs are suddenly Y, it’s a really tough spot to be in.

Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?

LC: Our core customer is anyone who delivers coaching.

Our background was in the functional fitness space — so naturally, we have lots of CrossFit coaches, but the product is designed for anyone who needs to deliver remote training programs to a wider audience. This is evidenced by our work with Gymbox, HYROX (the global fitness race series), and Eleiko, a premium supplier of training equipment.

We’ve been pushing rapidly into the mainstream training market and have a large proportion of PTs on our £49.99 a month plan to manage an unlimited number of clients, and it’s a space that has huge potential.

It’s a space that has huge potential, and we’re enjoying building new features to support neighboring markets such as mobility and nutrition too.

Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?

LC: Revenue growth in the last year was over 100%, and we’re expecting to do that again in the next six to nine months. We are tracking ahead of that currently, and I’m quite bullish on the momentum we’ve built.

We’re always comparing yield and revenue growth rather than the gross number of coaches. Doubling a yield or improving margin gets us to our revenue goals just as well.

We do, however, have an internal target to double the user base of coaches, which we are also on track for. As that happens, we can really start to accelerate other parts of the business.

Our coaches have cumulatively grossed £3.5M ($4.36M) in sales through the platform, which is a really cool number and way ahead of our forecasts. We make transaction fees on all coach-to-client sales, so it’s a positive sign of things to come.

Realizing an attractive additional revenue stream, we’ve delved into the world of white-labeling as well, building an incredible platform for Mat Fraser’s HWPO Training.

We have the internal development capacity to do this, and a special mention to our incredible team based in Ukraine, who have been only offline for a total of two days during the invasion.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers?

LC: We’re always looking to meet new people in our industry and explore other uses for the product. At the moment, we feel we’re dipping a toe into what’s possible.

We’ve entered the gym chain market and feel we have a really neat solution for large-scale players to interact with their consumers remotely. If you think we can help, give us a call.

We’d also love to chat to people about partnership opportunities with the likes of insurers or coaching accreditation providers in the space. It’s a natural link to work together to offer joined solutions for their online businesses.

Lastly, a shameless plug: If you need the best-in-class remote coaching platform, head here and sign up for our 14-day free trial.

If you’re interested in having your company featured in our Startup Q&A series, send an email to team@fitt.co.