The market for fitness is changing. Young people are put off by pricey gym memberships, preferring instead to use “no-frills” options like PureGym. Technology solutions can offer the flexibility that fitness seekers want.
An NI entrepreneur is looking to capitalise on this trend. Andy McCracken may be young, but he is experienced when it comes to startups, specifically user experience and interface design.
His venture, GoFyt, helps people to easily find physiotherapists, trainers or other fitness professionals. Through the location-based app, people can find a fitness pro, book them and pay for the session.
For the fitness professional, it helps them market themselves directly to a local customer base, while also managing their diary – which Andy believes has long been a pain-point for trainers.
“Think AirBnB for the health and fitness industry,” explains Andy.
A quick search on GoFyt confirms that I can get a sports massage for £20 near my house. While I could Google the same information, the top hits tend to be pricier clinics, not necessarily very close by, rather than independent therapists. Maybe he’s onto something.
How did you come up with the idea?
Andy says, “My two co-founders, Jason Harvey and Timmy Crowe, are both Irish international athletes. At one point Jason was training for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, when he got injured two weeks before his race – and had to quickly find a massage therapist. Unable to find the right person, he finished last on race day. He found this was a consistent problem for other athletes.”
Is there competition for this kind of app?
“There are other platforms out there, and the problem isn’t attracting users, it’s keeping them on it,” says Andy. “We’re differentiating by building an incentivised rewards scheme. A lister will get rewards if they consistently book sessions through GoFyt.”
Are these rewards partners already signed up?
Andy says, “Yes, we’re partnered with a few key businesses – for example, ROS Nutrition, a supplement company, and OLY Clothing, a Belfast based company that provides quality clothing, starting with CrossFit industry.”
Who pays for it?
“It makes money on a commission basis,” says Andy. “When someone books a physio, we take 9% of that, and the lister pays for it. They only pay for what they earn. Flexible pricing helps everyone.”
Did you build it yourselves?
“I’m a UX/UI designer myself and have done the platform design,” says Andy. “Jason is on the commercial side, and Timmy is on the legal and policy side of the business.”
Having local connections has been the difference, Andy says. “Through Ulster University we’ve found backend developers, graphic designers, illustrators, etc – without having those connections, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
What are your funding plans?
Andy explains that they need “a good marketing budget” because the marketplace is double-sided. He also says they are “missing a developer full-time along with a mobile app.”
“We’re currently raising £250-300,000 – we’re getting a business plan in place now,” he says.
I can tell this isn’t your first rodeo.
“I was a freelancer for three or four years. I started a clothing brand with a few friends, and I’ve worked with Clinishare and other health startups.
“We secured a place on Invest NI’s Propel scheme, and it taught us what it takes to run a tech company, how to raise investment - so many factors that we either didn’t have any experience with or hadn’t considered.”
“Everyone’s experiences as an entrepreneur are different. There’s no one-size fits all, it’s important to learn as much as possible, stay humble, be friendly and work hard,” says Andy.
GoFyt is a finalist in the 2018 Invent Awards in the ‘creative media and consumer internet’ category.