Blog

Venture Capital Tips for Fitness Startups

Posted by Eric Stensvaag on Aug 25, 2020 6:51:20 PM

One of the essential qualifications for any successful entrepreneur? Perspective, preferably lots of it. Before pivoting into the music sector and co-founding music-as-a-service company Feed.fm, Jeff Yasuda spent the first decade of his career as an investment banker and VC. His experience on both sides of the fundraising table has made the challenging job of securing and structuring financing a little easier for our company.

Last year, we interviewed Jeff about Venture Capital in the fitness sector, based on Feed.fm’s work with dozens of fitness companies. In the wake of COVID-19 and the transformations happening in fitness, we asked for Jeff’s advice on navigating what he describes as “the challenging world of fitness investment.” He shares his unique perspective below.

What types of VCs should fitness companies be looking at for funding right now? Ones that specialize in fitness? Larger ones that already have fitness startups in their portfolios?

YASUDA: First, it’s important to understand the framework in which VC funding decisions are typically made. Most investors take a portfolio approach. Since they’re not exactly sure which investments are going to be winners, they’ll spread their bets with the hope that at least one of them (or a couple) will succeed.

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Topics: Music streaming, Music as a Service, Fitness

Building Fitness Businesses in Times of Uncertainty

Posted by Lauren Pufpaf on Aug 14, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Whether you’re a personal trainer, studio franchisee, content creator, or gym owner (or anything in between), this year has been turbulent to say the least. At Feed.fm, we’ve been rapidly iterating on products to serve more segments of the market and helping businesses with digital strategy every day. We work with partners on all sides of the industry that are 100% focused on driving successful digital businesses. And, we’re excited to learn from our latest collaborator - KK Hart, Certified Business Coach and Consultant. 

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Topics: Fitness, Music Licensing

"If I can't build my playlist, I think I'll die"

Posted by Rob Kenkel on Aug 7, 2020 5:45:53 PM

The process and tools used to create workout soundtracks have evolved over the years right alongside the way we consume music in general. Early VHS tapes had background music recorded in studio, workout compilation CDs blasted from speakers in aerobics room, and most recently, streaming from personal Spotify/Apple Music accounts has taken over.

In the last 5 years, we’ve seen a huge uptick in both specialized boutique fitness studios and at-home fitness apps. When the pandemic hit the US in March, there was suddenly a massive need to find a way to combine the boutique experience with the convenience of working out at home. I've spoken with over 100 different fitness brands in 3 months and they are all passionate about what they do and the impact they can have on the health and wellness of people like me that are suddenly stuck at home.

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Topics: Music streaming, Music as a Service, legal music, Customer Engagment, Fitness, Music Licensing

Don't Sleep on Wearables...a Primer for Digital Fitness

Posted by Lauren Pufpaf on May 14, 2020 1:17:42 PM

As discussed in our recent whitepaper, Content, Community and Technology: Digital ecosystems for fitness brands, we've found that there are five essential pillars of a unified digital fitness experience. This article follows the first in a series -- Time to Focus on Your App -- to spotlight the second pillar of digital fitness: Your wearables.

Wearables are here to stay

Even before COVID-19, fitness and digital had been on a path of convergence. As remote fitness takes root more deeply, wearables are quickly transforming from basic data capture tools to sophisticated feedback devices that responsively support a broad population...encompassing people with medical conditions to professional athletes and everyone in between.

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Topics: Customer Engagment, Fitness

Fitness Will Never be the Same - Time to Focus on Your App

Posted by Lauren Pufpaf on Apr 14, 2020 6:16:58 PM

The last decade saw major transformations to the fitness industry, with an explosion of new digital fitness companies spurring the old guard to adopt digital engagement strategies. Yet even the most farsighted would likely concede that the future has arrived much quicker than expected. COVID-19 is already seen as a tipping point in the merging of fitness and digital. As discussed in our recent whitepaper, Content, Community and Technology: Digital ecosystems for fitness brands, fitness customers increasingly expect that all brands provide convenient, high-tech options for exercising remotely.

There has never been a more pressing need to get your content online. Our recommendations seek to balance this expediency against the considerations that can deliver long-term ROI to your business. At Feed.fm, we've found that there are five essential pillars of a unified digital fitness experience.

  1. Custom-built mobile apps
  2. Integration with wearable health-tracking devices
  3. Professional-quality video content and hosting
  4. Training content
  5. Music integration

This article focuses on the first pillar of digital fitness: Your mobile app.

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Topics: Apps, Customer Engagment, Fitness

Sweat Equity: Building Fitness Communities that Last

Posted by Lauren Pufpaf on Apr 10, 2020 1:58:40 PM

As discussed in our recent whitepaper, Content, Community and Technology: Digital ecosystems for fitness brands, the community aspect of digital fitness is key to building a sustainable fitness business. Factors including technological advances, more varied living arrangements, and decreasing participation in organized religion (especially for millennials), are driving people to create community in different ways than in the past.

For many, their fitness community plays an increasingly important role, helping to create connections, purpose, and accountability. Even when your customers aren’t in the same building, they should feel connected to your brand and part of something bigger than themselves. It’s not just about driving a stickier user experience, but building community that can foster deep relationships and help people reach their full potential.

At Feed.fm we work with fitness brands across the consumer landscape and we’ve seen a wide range of community-building strategies employed. To help get the gears turning on how you can implement features of your own, we’ve gathered 4 innovative and proven examples from companies that excel at promoting community.

1)  Strava - Though created primarily for cyclers as a way to document their biking miles, Strava has expanded their scope to “be the center of [exercisers’] active life. The popular app (more than 8 million activities are uploaded per day) has expanded from its commonly-known cycling & running footprint to court Peloton subscribers, rowers and other athletes, and former CEO James Quarles sees it more as a social network for fitness: “We think Strava plays a role for people not just when they’re recording an activity but before and after, right?” he says. “You can find routes, you can find groups to join, people to go with. Then, once you post the activity, you can talk about it, post photos, tag friends, and memorialize and relive the event.” Members say that being connected to cyclists of similar interests and abilities allows them to discover new routes, which helps keep them invigorated in their training routines.

2)  Studio - Billed as a “boutique fitness studio in your pocket”, the Studio app offers treadmill, outdoor running, strength training, and stretch workouts led by top trainers. Head instructor Lisa Niren had this to say about the prioritization of community: “Our members are the lifeblood of our company and community is central and integral to everything we do. I like to say that our fanatical member base is a mix of a little bit of luck and also a LOT of nurturing from the entire team. It is non-stop 24/7, but the most rewarding part of the job.” While it may seem obvious, the number one recommendation is being present and getting to truly know your members, which is a massive time commitment. Niren puts it succinctly: “I make it my personal goal, and the goal of everyone on my team, to be deeply rooted in our community and members. Caring, getting to know them, being present on social media & in Tribes is the key to our success and really making members feel at home when they are with us. Especially now, during a trying time, they come to us not just for physical fitness but also mental and emotional fitness, support and time away from everything else going on.

3)  Pharos Athletic Club in Los Angeles has achieved renown in a fitness-obsessed city for the strength of their community (the owners of other gyms regularly work out at the 20,000 square foot facility.) Three times a year, Pharos hosts a “Limitless Challenge,” in which members are grouped into teams coached by Pharos’ full-time Personal Trainers, take multiple group fitness classes together, receive one-on-one consults throughout the challenge and have their vital health stats (weight, lean body mass, body fat percentage, etc.) tracked on a weekly basis. Combining teams in a competition format creates a balanced environment that pushes participants while maintaining camaraderie, and all participants (there were more than 50 in the latest Limitless Challenge) celebrate with a group outing following the five-week competition. The latest Challenge, which ended in early March, resulted in 122 pounds of muscle gained and 331 pounds of fat lost. More recently, as Pharos (along with most gyms in Los Angeles) has temporarily shuttered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, its trainers have begun conducting multiple free classes daily via Instagram Live. In the words of Pieter Vodden, one of the club’s owners, Pharos was “started by community and it will survive by community.”

4)  Mirror - Described as a “Nearly
Invisible Interactive Home Gym,” Mirror is a unique piece of fitness hardware - it’s a mirror that hangs on the wall, but doubles as a wireless video screen through which you can participate in workouts remotely, both live and on demand, with top fitness trainers from across the country. The fast-growing startup has received a ton of buzz for its adoption amongst celebrities, and the community aspect of their workout is played up in every press mention - “everyone in the class can see the names and locations of the other people in the class, displayed as bubbles that pop up on the screen when they join.” Participants can also share injuries or questions with the instructors - who can’t see participants - anonymously, maintaining privacy while still allowing for a community feel. Instructors also have access to heart-rate data to ensure sufficient motivation and impact for each workout. Much of the community-building takes place on Instagram, and instructor Gerren Liles has even created his own sub community, Team 100, which is all about giving 100% of your effort every time you show up. Mirror engages with the community on social platforms to get to know them, then references users during live workouts, which brings the studio feel to a digital environment.

Whether you’re looking to build a community from scratch or make your member’s bonds stronger, there’s a lot of great inspiration available right now. To summarize, successful brands (physical and digital) recommend:

  • Offering ways to memorialize exercisers’ efforts and easy ways for them to connect post-activity;
  • Taking the time to get to know your community and be present for them on social media;
  • Bringing people together with common goals, celebrating the wins together; and
  • Referencing personal facts and user names during live digital classes to bring the studio feel to life.
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Topics: Apps, Customer Engagment, Fitness

Exercising During a Pandemic

Posted by Eric Stensvaag on Mar 20, 2020 4:31:45 PM

As curator and writer for a Music as a Service company specializing in the fitness technology sector, I spend most of my working hours soundtracking a variety of exercise programs. Thanks to innovations in fit tech, people have more workout options than ever before, both in terms of exercise modalities and settings (encompassing gyms, home workout and outdoor activities).

In the days since President Trump’s Oval Office coronavirus speech, we’ve seen just how timely these transformations are for the fitness landscape. Even as people comply with new social distancing, lockdown, and/or “shelter in place” mandates, overall usage for our 50+ fitness brand partners has increased by more than 30%, both domestically and--to an even greater extent--internationally. This inspiring statistic shows that at least some of us, at least some of the time, are managing our stress more constructively than just binge watching or succumbing to the Quarantine 15.

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Topics: Fitness, Music for wellness

Why Music Now? Top Reasons Your Fit Tech Company Cannot Afford to Wait

Posted by Eric Stensvaag on Dec 11, 2019 6:24:40 PM

Feed.fm works with the world’s leading fitness companies to provide legal, curated music integration in their apps and digital settings. While each brand has unique considerations (development bandwidth, customer acquisition challenges, competitive pressures), we consistently hear from customers that "I wish we'd done this sooner."

From our vantage point of working across the fit tech sector, we can see there is a clear opportunity cost to waiting on music integration. So we tallied the Top Reasons for “Why Music Now?”

REASON #1 — Exerciser Impact

The world’s leading authority on fitness and music, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, has proven that music can improve running performance by 15%; it can be a sedative or a stimulant; a nerve calmer or focus inducer; a pre-workout entryway into flow state; a mood enhancer; and an agent that reduces perceived effort by up to 10%.

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Topics: Apps, Music streaming, Music as a Service, legal music, Customer Engagment, Fitness, Music for wellness

Venture Capital in the Fitness Space: A Candid Chat with CEO & Founder Jeff Yasuda

Posted by Eric Stensvaag on Oct 15, 2019 12:28:19 PM
Jeff Yasuda founded Feed.fm alongside Eric Lambrecht and Lauren Pufpaf, with the belief that music integration and licensing should be easy for any business, whether digital or brick-and-mortar. Early adopters like American Eagle Outfitters, Anheuser-Busch, and other consumer marketing companies found a legal and efficient way for customers to stream music within their online environments.

In 2017, Feed.fm began delivering music for Fitbit’s in-app fitness programs. Nearly three years later, we wanted to get Jeff’s perspective on venture capital in the fitness space, which has grown to dominate our music as a service business.

Feed.fm has worked with many of the top fitness companies, so you’re in a unique position to connect the dots. Tell me about some overall trends you’re seeing in fitness.

Fitness is an incredibly hot space right now. Consider 1) the amount of financing that has taken place and 2) the recent Peloton IPO. VCs like seeing a market where companies can exit, either via acquisition or offering shares on a public exchange. When there’s acquisition and companies going public, it’s indicative that the business segment—in this case fitness—is healthy, and investors want to participate in the upside.
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Topics: Music streaming, Music as a Service, Fitness

Make “No Excuses” for a Lousy Workout Soundtrack: 1000s of Exercisers Vote on Their Top Workout Songs

Posted by Eric Stensvaag on Aug 21, 2019 2:37:48 PM

The past five years have seen significant growth in the fitness tech sector, transforming how many people exercise. One thing that isn’t changing? The need for fresh, inspiring music, which has been shown to enhance athletic performance for professionals and amateurs alike. A detailed study by the Sports Medicine – Open journal found that people work out 28% longer per week when they have the right music.

As a B2B music company, Feed.fm is on the front lines of this fit tech groundswell, handling music licensing, curation, and integration for more than 40 different fitness customers. The specific exercise programs offered by our customers (Fitbit, 8fit, Tonal, Mirror, and others) differ greatly. That said, there are a few workout music stations that are always winners regardless of activity.

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Topics: Feed.fm Blog, Music streaming, Customer Engagment, Fitness, Music for wellness