Fitness training can sometimes be just about the right push to get you to “Just Do It.” A new marketplace was made to change the common perception of fitness training and make workouts fun, easy, and accessible. There is mobile app that will simplify everything by connecting you to rockstar trainers and book a session at a place and time that fits right into your schedule.
FYTNS is a web community of professional trainers who offer personal training at a convenient location near you. AJ Shewki, Chief Product Officer and co-founder of FYTNS, muscled his way through our door to talk about how this revolutionizing idea started and why his mother is an inspiration in his journey to success.
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
At FYTNS, we help people find diverse and fun workouts by connecting them to rockstar athletes and fitness experts. We help our clients reach their health goals through a mix of free health and nutrition consulting coupled with a high-quality, convenient and mobile personal training service. Our customers are between 25-55+, m/f, >$80k/y mean income who are busy and feel out of shape but have no time to learn and invest into training. Our trainers come to YOU.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
We don’t sell workouts, we sell results. Our trainers pay is related to their clients goals and reaching those goals. We also have a mobile trainer force, meaning our trainers can work out in your home, at your office, nearby your work — anywhere really.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Fitness, but shorter and more available as a domain; Fytns
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
A Compaq 333mhz — I was 13 (in Sweden.. and we had better internet then & there than I do now in San Francisco…)
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I start work at 7am and finish anywhere between 8pm and 11pm. Always on stand-by though, as per usual in a start up.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
I am on vacation every day, being from Sweden and living in San Francisco. The novelty hasn’t really worn off yet, even though I’ve been here for over 2 years. I did spend a week-end in LA recently though — I guess that was a mini vacation.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Hand out flyers at the subway. Not the most glamorous thing people expect from a founder.. :)
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
In the shower. And during training.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
2 other people — co-founders Bjorn and Yorgos. Now we’re 7: Three founders, 1 CTO, 2 contractors.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
Being a cog in the big cogwheel never appealed to me. I like fast action, quick decisions, high pace, lots of pressure — That’s where I perform the best.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
We’re there now. How to grow customer base, optimize marketing funnel, spread the word, all the legal work required, paperwork, book-keeping (it’s hell)… everything is hell until you learn it (or hire someone to do it for you, like an accountant).
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
I sleep on it. My biggest frustration arises from meetings that go nowhere and you end up discussing something in circles for hours — it frustrates me beyond recognition.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
Music — in fact, I love to write all my e-mails with heavy metal banging in my ears. We’re in a co-working space right now, so we have limited freedom in terms of what we can do. My ideal office would be a mix between workout gear and equipment, video games and a fully stacked kitchen.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Getting an acquisition offer by Apple as part of their new health kit direction — and rejecting it.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
As cheesy as it may sound — my mother. She was able to flee a war-ridden country (Iraq) at the age of 15, have me at 16 in a totally new country (Sweden) and manage to not only learn the language and raise me, but become a lawyer and do well for herself in a country that is inherently racist (she had to change her name just to even get a face-to-face interview). If I could do half that, I would be a very successful entrepreneur. Apart from that, Son Goku. Cause’ he never gives up and always wins.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money, man?
Privately funded round (angels) — aiming to raise Series A before the end of the year.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Ask yourself about the necessities and fulfill those — cut down on the rest. Example: Don’t spend $$$ on marketing until you have a significant round. Traditional word-of-mouth, flyers and non-costly marketing approaches work just fine if you’re willing to put some effort in. Keep costs low by cooking at home and bringing in to the office ($15/meal eats into your budget really quickly, especially if you’re not alone). Don’t build a software/app before you’ve tried your hypothesis out. Waste of money.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
It’s not for everyone — ask yourself why you’re doing it and be honest with yourself. Expect to have little sleep for the next 5 years. Other then that — ideas are worthless, it’s all about execution. Like Nike says: Just do it!
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
Focus my entire time, mind space and focus on training to see how far I can push myself.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Not yet :-) Success is when the company has grown to a sizable workforce (>25) and the association with having my company name suddenly means something.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- MyFitnessPal (best food tracker out there)
- Ryde (bus tracking app)
- Venmo (easy money transfer)
- Instagram (allows me to share my life with friends and family across the world)
- Lyft (press button, get cab!)
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
Spotify — I like to support Swedish start-ups. System of a down – aerials
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Japan — Have had a huge love for Asian culture, food and women. I mean cars for ever. Grew up watching anime and eating top ramen and love the language and humbleness of Japanese people.
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
- Joe Rogan — funny guy and UFC commentator
- Louis CK — funniest stand up comedian out there at the moment (opinions…)
- Tim Ferriss — cause who doesn’t want a 4h work week?
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
Not much right now — We’ve gone from 2 workouts in May to 16 workouts in July.
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