Fitness marketplace Fitmob is growing fast and looking to grow even faster, and to do so it’s raised new strategic funding from Recruit Strategic Partners. The funding will be used as Fitmob adds more options to its fitness marketplace through partnerships with gyms, and as it seeks to expand into new markets.
Fitmob has refined its business model quite a bit recently, moving from a pure peer-to-peer model to one in which the company partners with existing players in the industry. The company also launched $99 monthly subscriptions several weeks ago and has seen demand explode since then.
It turns out people really like paying one fixed fee for access to a whole bunch of different activities rather than pay a la carte for each class they take.
Over the past several months, the company started partnering with different yoga and other fitness studios to offer up a wider variety of classes to its users. And now, in a bit of a twist, the San Francisco-based company has begin working with gyms.
That marks a shift from Fitmob’s original plan to build a peer-to-peer marketplace of activities that sought to connect users with trainers and classes that didn’t have to be — and often weren’t — connected with a gym or training studio. By doing so, the company had sought to lower the cost of overhead associated with the current fitness model, while also giving trainers more freedom to make money from classes that they taught.
Fitmob is still looking to build the largest marketplace of fitness activities, but now it will also include gyms and their classes in its app, according to founder and CEO Raj Kapoor.
“Our initial positioning was that we were an alternative to the gym,” Kapoor told me by phone. But since, he says the company has evolved its business model. “We decided we were better off partnering with the industry than trying to go around it… It makes more sense to leverage [gyms’] excess capacity than to create all new capacity in the system.”
Gyms that will become available in San Francisco, Marin, and Seattle include Studiomix, World Gym, LiveFit, Kentfield Fitness, Fitness SF, Body Kinetics in Marin, and The Seattle Gym. Altogether, there are 17 participating at launch, but the company expects to add more each week.
By including gyms in its list of activities, Fitmob users can either sign up for their classes or just drop in and use their equipment. Like its existing partners, Fitmob will pay also gyms on a per-use or per-visit basis, but it will be doing so at a heavy discount over their usual a la carte prices.
The goal is to fill up unused capacity at those gyms, according to Kapoor. And the model works because about 70 percent of spots in any given class are usually open, which means that any Fitmob user who signs up is taking a spot that probably would have remained empty.
In addition to adding gyms to its list of fitness options, Fitmob has also just launched an Android app, which should grow its addressable user base. That’s important, especially as it looks to become available in places besides San Francisco, Seattle, and Marin.
Today it has about 80 different trainers, studios and gyms on the platform in San Francisco and about 40 in Seattle, with more being added over time. But expansion into even more cities is coming soon, with Fitmob looking to launch in the top 50 cities in the U.S. over the next year.
Now that the company has locked down how it works in its home market and nearby, it plans to enter new cities over the coming months. To do so, it hires brand ambassadors in each new market to help it find the best trainers, studios, and gyms and then works to sign them up. And of course, the funding will help with that.
Fitmob isn’t disclosing the size of the investment by Recruit Strategic Partners, but Kapoor notes Recruit is the home of some of the largest marketplace in Japan. Leveraging its expertise, Fitmob hopes to continue growing its own marketplace right here in the U.S.