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Passion in the business of wellness
Diverse Growth Paths, Highperformr's 1st Product Hunt Launch
Hi Friends! 👋
Picture this: I have been a regular at The Quad Gym for the past four years, while Sri, can't kick start his day without a brisk game of badminton, a passion we've been nurturing for the last eight years. Our lives, much like our startup, Highperformr, revolve around optimizing performance and staying ahead of the curve.
Highperformr is more than just a venture for us; it's a journey filled with the same passion and dedication we pour into our fitness routines. As founders, we've learned that success isn't just about work; it's about maintaining a balanced life, and fitness plays a pivotal role.
But beyond our personal experiences, we've noticed a larger trend. In today's fast-paced world, more and more people are awakening to the significance of fitness. It's not merely a matter of looking good; it's about feeling good and performing at your best in every aspect of life.
Today, we're not just discussing startups; we're delving into a world where sweat, determination, and innovation intersect. We're exploring how startups like Cure.fit, Gold's Gym, and The Quad Gym have become fitness giants by adapting to this newfound awareness.
The Global Wellness Market: Before we dive into the success stories of these fitness giants, let's set the stage with a staggering fact. The global wellness market is estimated at over $1.5 trillion with 5 to 10 percent annual growth. This massive industry encompasses everything from traditional fitness centers to innovative wellness startups like the ones we'll explore.
In the next few minutes, let's embark on a journey through the world of fitness startups, where we'll explore:
Fitness Boom 👉 The global wellness revolution
Startup Strategies 👉 Adapting to fitness trends
Segmentation Secrets 👉 Targeting the right fitness audience
Wellness Market 👉 The $1.5 trillion opportunity
Winning Formulas 👉Success Stories in the Fitness Industry
So, come along with us on this exciting journey through the fitness landscape, where startups and fitness enthusiasts are changing the game.
Alright, folks, today we've got three fitness powerhouses on our radar: Cure.fit, Gold's Gym, and The Quad. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast or just curious about how these brands made it big, you're in for a treat.
Imagine this: Cure.fit, they kicked things off back in 2016 and, hold onto your dumbbells, they soared to a jaw-dropping valuation of $1.56 billion in just five years. Now, how on earth did they pull that off? Well, don't go anywhere because we're about to uncover the juicy secrets behind their impressive success. And guess what? The pandemic did play a role, but not exactly in the way you might think!
So, grab your virtual gym towel, and let's embark on a journey to see how these fitness legends carved out their niches in the fitness world.
How did Cure Fit capture market share, and fight the age-old well-established fitness chains in the country?
They just didn’t. Their audience strategy has been clear since the beginning: target the folks who can’t afford the likes of Gold’s or The Quad. Go after volume. Here’s how the 3 kinds of Gyms charge their subscribers.
The Quad - USD 950 p.a
Gold’s - USD 350 p.a
Cult - USD 270 p.a
When we compare Cure Fit to Gold’s and The Quad, it’s evident that clear segmentation strategies always win in the long run. It’s important to know who is the audience you’re going after, and ruthlessly go after it while ignoring the rest. Comparing CureFit, Gold's Gym, and The Quad across aspects such as customer acquisition, business models, and technology explains this further.Lets compare the customer acquisition model of these brands.
B2C and B2B: CureFit primarily targets consumers (B2C) but has also ventured into B2B partnerships, collaborating with companies to offer wellness programs to employees.
Inbound and Outbound: CureFit employs both inbound and outbound marketing strategies. It attracts customers through its app, social media, and website while also using influencer partnerships and traditional advertising.
Luxury and Partnerships: Gold's Gym positions itself as a premium fitness brand, attracting customers looking for high-quality gym experiences. It often partners with influencers and fitness celebrities to promote its brand.
Franchise Model: Gold's Gym predominantly operates on a franchise model, allowing local entrepreneurs to own and operate individual gyms under the Gold's Gym brand.
The Quad (in Chennai):
Community-Based: The Quad has built a strong fitness community in Chennai. Much of its customer acquisition has likely been through word-of-mouth and community referrals.
Bootstrapped: The Quad's growth has been primarily bootstrapped, which means it has relied on its revenue and resources to expand, rather than external investments.
Slow Growth: It took The Quad around 10 years to reach 1000 members, indicating a focus on steady, organic growth.
High Customer Retention: The fact that "nobody churns" suggests that The Quad places a strong emphasis on member satisfaction and retention.
CureFit Group of Companies: CureFit offers a holistic wellness platform that includes fitness centers, healthy meals, mental health services, and healthcare. It follows an integrated model that combines multiple wellness aspects under one brand.
Gold's Gym: Gold's Gym operates on a franchise model, where individual gym owners pay a fee to use the Gold's Gym brand and offer standardized fitness services. It emphasizes the luxury and premium aspect of fitness.
The Quad (in Chennai): The Quad is community-driven and has a strong focus on creating a supportive fitness environment. It operates independently, without franchise partnerships, and focuses on slow, sustainable growth.
CureFit: CureFit uses technology extensively for customer engagement and convenience. Its app allows users to book classes, order meals, and track their wellness journeys. The technology plays a crucial role in providing a seamless, integrated experience.
Gold's Gym: While Gold's Gym may have technology for member management and operations, it is less tech-focused compared to CureFit.
The Quad (in Chennai): The Quad may use basic technology for member management but is likely less tech-centric compared to both CureFit and Gold's Gym.
‘Growth’ lies in the eyes of the beholder
If you are a VC, You better be growing your top line. Build things that scale, and profits will follow. Very fair, as long as you are growing exponentially. Lets have look at how these companies perceive growth:
Cure.fit approached growth horizontally rather than vertically, and The Quad & Gold’s niched down. Which approach worked better?
Cure.fit expanded its offerings beyond fitness and nutrition to include mental health and primary healthcare services. They launched Mind.fit for mental wellness and Care.fit for primary healthcare consultations. The company made strategic acquisitions to enhance its capabilities. Notable acquisitions include the purchase of Fitness First gyms in India, Fitternity, and the acquisition of Seraniti, a mental health and wellness startup. Cure.fit also introduced AI-powered health assessments and personalized health plans through its platform.
Cure.fit’s growth strategy has largely been focused on expanding its suite of services to aim for holistic, comprehensive health solutions at relatively affordable prices- with their focus on gyms and classes. However, whether their numbers are rosy enough, is for you to decide.
They sure are growing in their operating income at a massive growth rate of 34% YoY, but at the end of the day, the cash from operation continues to be negative but deccelerating, which is probably a good thing.
This is different from The Quad and Gold’s. And that’s intuitive, right? Owing to their focus on a premium, luxury fitness experience and a high ticket size, it makes sense for The Quad and Gold’s to focus on just one area and niche down in the space.
So, what's the Quad all about? Founded by 2 founders- Raj and Arvind purely driven by passion. Here’s their story:
The Quad was founded in September 2011 by Raj and Arvind, two people who grew up in Madras and moved back from California to start it up. Two people with zero background in fitness or strength training. In fact, two people who were working desk jobs in technical fields who had no business started a gym.
While Raj had asthma-related issues, Arvind had high cholesterol and had been in touch with his doctor about it (at 21 years old).
Here's a photo of Arvind from around then.
I went through a particularly tough time personally dealing with issues at work, love and family all at the same time. It was then I realised I had hit rock bottom with respect to health and fitness. I weighed 85 kg at 5'6", couldn't run 100 metres without having an asthma attack and my lipid profile was all over the place. I decided to make a change.
Quad probably lost 30% of their subscribers during the pandemic, but the remaining 66% of them stayed true to their community. The revenue trajectory could have been slow, as they just announced that they were a 1,000 people strong community in 10 years- a feat that a cult or a global brand like Golds probably achieved in their first year of operation.
We don't have access to their financials, but they probably are EBITDA positive growing meagrely at less than 25% YoY, but super positive.
Sri and I quite often think about what the right way to grow is. Obviously we want the best of both worlds- reasonable scale, faster path to profitability, but one thing we both agree on is the operational excellence. As a startup, we want to build a $100M company in the next 7-8 years, but build that frugally.
Just to test scale, we are launching our free tools at Highperformr Tools on Product Hunt. With just 3 full time employees (including the 2 of us) and a bunch of part timers and freelancers, we are here to test our agility to launch products at a reasonable pace– frugally. Let's see how these numbers look in a year from now.
So, which approach was better is a trick question to ask ourselves. Cult went for the quantity, A global brand goes for maintaining its “Brand position” and the Quad went for operational efficiency— all are fair games to play and can be good for business if you know your audience and the market you’re targeting.
Social messaging: bollywood, sustainable health, or fitness for aesthetics?
The brands’ growth approaches are also clearly reflected in their social media strategy.
Cure Fit - bollywood for the masses
Since Cure.fit aims to reach the masses, their marketing strategy focuses on getting widely loved celebrities to endorse them. They tend to collaborate with Bollywood actors, sports personalities, and influencers to promote their fitness and wellness offerings.
The Quad - Sustainable Health
As opposed to this, The Quad’s messaging is focused on educating their small, but high-retention, highly engaged community, with the founder as the face of the company and also the anchor of this community. Their approach is to optimize for the quality of folks in their community - people who want long-term sustainable health rather than fads.
Gold’s - FOMO for the win
Gold’s, on the other hand, truly taps into the FOMO factor. Where Cult/Curefit is endorsed by actors, Gold’s is frequented by them, making their community aspirational. Gold's social messaging is simple: focus on the aesthetic factor of fitness, showcase the popular who’s who of the local community, and generate FOMO that leads to interest from folks who can afford to belong to an exclusive community.
In conclusion, it's fascinating to see how Cure.fit, Gold's Gym, and The Quad have carved their own unique paths to success in the fitness industry. Each brand has honed its strategy to cater to a specific audience and market niche. Cure.fit's holistic wellness approach, Gold's Gym's focus on luxury and franchising, and The Quad's commitment to community and organic growth all have their merits.
What stands out is the importance of knowing your customer and tailoring your offerings to meet their needs. Whether it's targeting the masses with Bollywood endorsements, promoting sustainable health, or creating FOMO through celebrity presence, these brands have all found their own ways to connect with their audiences.
In the ever-evolving fitness landscape, these diverse approaches remind us that there's no one-size-fits-all formula for success. So, whether you're aiming for volume, luxury, or community engagement, the key is to understand your market and build your brand accordingly. After all, in the world of fitness, as in any business, the customer remains at the heart of it all.
So, thats it for today’s edition. With such inspiration and passion, Sri and I make a small step into the world of product launches with Highperformr. Don’t forget to check us out and upvote us. Join our party in product hunt.