This Bangalore-based startup lets you take on the fitness industry within 15 minutes

17th Feb 2016
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The fitness industry is more subject to trend and whimsies than one would think. Business models are shifting from self-serve gym memberships to highly focussed and personalised sessions. As this model becomes more service intensive and asset-light, it is becoming easier for consumers as well as trainers to enter the market.

Manik Mehta was working in England with Manchester United FC as a sales assistant and doing door-to-door sales for Sky TV, when he began spotting these trends in the fitness industry. Using them as a tailwind, he began brainstorming on how he could augment the four-million service providers in fitness and sports globally.

Creating a SaaS platform to make the entry barriers even lower seemed to him like a million-dollar idea.

Manik and Kabandi YourStory
Manik Mehta(L) and Kabandi Saikia(R)

First Innings

Before long, LinkMySport became reality. Explaining his venture, Manik says, "LinkMySport is a SaaS platform providing an exhaustive software template to manage operations and marketing of customer-facing apps on web and mobile for fitness and sports service providers like trainers, yoga and health studios, and sports centres."

LinkMySport provides a suite of products to fitness studios and trainers that seamlessly integrate into a single platform, to help them manage their scheduling, operations and customers via web and mobile.

The software is a DIY product, and customers can setup their whole business technology in less than 15 minutes

His parents turned out to be his first angel investors.

His co-founder, Kabandi Saikia, who looks after operations and marketing, joined in two-and-a-half years ago, when Manik was experimenting with their first product. She had worked previously for Royal Bank of Scotland and Stanley David & Associates, where she was a head-hunter.

Second innings

Knowing they were in a highly fragmented market, the duo's strategy was to crack it through effective digital marketing.“Our core focus area is building a user experience that is 10x better than the competition. Great UX means low support cost and happy customers. While most companies’ customer success metrics are more time spent on the app, for us customer success is about reducing the time spent on our app and increasing the output for our customers,” Manik notes.

Starting with two products, a tournament management and engagement platform, and an events and activity management software, each of their products had paying customers. But to concoct this ideal user experience, research and brainstorming were a constant process for the team.

LinkMySport Office YourStory
The team at the LinkMySport Office

Third innings

With improvisation at the heart of their business, two years down, Manik and Kabandi pivoted when they realised their current products were difficult to scale. At the same time, they sensed a global opportunity.

“We decided to scrap everything we had built, and start from scratch for the global ecosystem of SMEs in fitness, training and sports. This letting go of what we had been working for, and starting up again made us fearless as a team. We had the chance to rethink our mistakes and build an array of new offerings.”

The team added a cloud-based software with integrated payments, a trainer App with the ‘class management’ feature for trainers to manage classes on the go, 'LinkMySport White label App,' for the studios on iOS and Android, and a web app with customisable websites for businesses.

LinkMySport's global platform launched in April 2015, and was quick to gain traction. Over 250 businesses from 18 countries signed up for its beta, with zero marketing dollars spent. It is growing at over 40percent month on month. Its biggest market is USA, primarily because of the size of the market. The startup targets new-age fitness and sports studios and trainers.

Classes Main Image 2
The platform's monthly subscription ranges from $25 to $200, along with a small transaction fee for online payments. So far self-funded, the startup is now looking to raise an angel round to take on its competition, like MindBody Inc, which went IPO last year with a market cap of around $500 million. “Our target is to get 20,000 businesses on our platform by 2018,”Manik adds. Currently, LinkMySport is a part of NASSCOM 10,000 Start-ups program, and was part of Innotrek 2015 and PN Growth 2016 batch.

The health, sports and fitness industry is booming, ever-changing, with room for various schools of thought and disciplines that may not necessarily involve inventory and equipment, but merely skill and technique. So, the physical evidence of a brand and its goodwill, more often than not, is its online presence. Having established the importance of a SaaS offering, this dynamic field, where more and more players are eyeing the prize, will belch out anything that doesn’t offer the ultimate consumer experience, in terms of price, design and convenience in adoption.

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