In a crowded model of fitness centres and platforms using the US ClassPass model, Connectpedia sets itself apart by ensuring that fitness centres have a strong centre management and ERP system in place. Started in January 2015, by long-time friends Bidisha Banerjee and Swarupa Som, Connectpedia helps gyms and fitness centres increase their overall footfalls. Bidisha says that Connectpedia creates a hyper loop of internal gym management ERP for getting in external customer enquiry.
"Before launching the product, we stared interviewing fitness centre owners and we clearly understood there was a lack in good centre management ERP. Though there are a few available in the market they are either too expensive or have unreliable customer support. Also, the way these ERPs are designed makes it too difficult for the front office executive/gym managers to operate with their limited computer knowledge," says Bidisha.
Connectpedia offers two products. Myconnectpedia is a complete centre management ERP with features like responsive design, notifications on each activity like customer enrolment, enquiry and renewals, a consolidated daily report and a self-explanatory design that's easy to navigate for anyone. The other product is the web platform that provides detailed information of all the centres. "Presently, we have 382 centres listed on this platform," adds Bidisha.
She says the platform’s key feature is 'pay per use,' where users do not have to pay any monthly, quarterly or yearly registration fees. They can book their slots in advance and pay only for the number of hours they use the facility. Payment can be done online or directly at the centre.
The idea came to Bidisha when she decided to join a gym post her pregnancy. She found that there were hardly any portals where she could get detailed information. "This experience acted like a catalyst. I always believed there’s a lot which could be done in the fitness domain. So, we started interviewing gym owners/managers and got to know their pain points," says Bidisha. Being a dietician herself, Bidisha always believed there was plenty of opportunity in this industry.
Learning from mistakes
However, like any new startup, Connectpedia too made mistakes. The first mistake, according to Bidisha, was to outsource the product development. They thought it would help them move in a faster pace. But since the product itself goes through multiple iterations it becomes difficult for a third party to handle changes within the agreed timeline.
Hiring for the team was also a challenge. "After a lot of hassle, we were fortunate enough to set up a high-performance team having unlimited energy and wonderful frequency," adds Bidisha. Being a customer-driven product, the team has ensured that it interacted with a few prospective customers and designed the product based on their requirements. Connectpedia has been operational for eight months now and has 382 fitness centres listed on its portal. Of these, 40 are premium customers using ERP and pay-per-use feature.
Future plans and market space
"We have plans to come up with job openings at fitness centres (for trainers and gym managers) though our portal. We are also looking to launch an event portal for all sports and fitness-related activities. Additionally, we are in talks with corporates to take up their employee fitness programme. The ultimate goal is to be a one-stop shop for all fitness needs," says Bidisha.
Growing at 20 to 30 per cent year-on-year, the wellness sector in the past couple of months has seen tremendous amount of traction. Looking at players like Fitternity, Classverse, Gymer, FitnessPapa and many others, we can safely say this sector is on its upward trajectory.
A pool of startups has emerged in the last couple of years to address the requirements of fitness enthusiasts. The space is expected to hit an inflection point of growth. The industry is currently dominated by weight loss and beauty treatment services. (YourStory)