An innovative new ‘personal trainer in your pocket’ – developed by a Bayes Business School alumnus – is making waves after smashing a crowdfunding target by more than 250 per cent.
Following the closure of gyms following the first lockdown, it was not just gym-goers that had to find a new way to stay fit and healthy. Personal trainers and independent fitness professionals were unable to offer face-to-face training sessions and had to move their service online, with home gym sessions and advice replacing in-person offerings.
The challenges this posed were spotted by Executive MBA graduate Tristan Rushworth and two business partners Daniel Stott and Jim Beattie. In July 2020, the wheels began turning on Class-ify – badged as ‘the next generation of online personal training’. The platform combines bespoke websites, nutrition planning, workouts and an account manager who supports personal trainers with marketing, sales, and coaching strategies.
A basic product was launched shortly afterwards, and within six months Class-ify was turning over a monthly revenue of £50,000, backing fitness professionals in 17 countries.
Class-ify is now taking its first big step into the mainstream market and has proven to be a hit. Within 24 hours of starting a crowdfunding page, Class-ify had surpassed its target of £150,000 and with several days of fundraising still to go has raised more than double its intended amount.
Mr Rushworth said the ‘game-changing’ funding boost will ensure growth throughout the UK and further into overseas markets.
“We're absolutely overwhelmed with the support we've had from investors. It's clear there's a real appetite for fitness products as the world comes to terms with the new normal in the fitness industry, which is a combination of both digital and physical options.
“The investment will supercharge our growth over the next six months. We want to build on our success and go bigger and better as we prepare to expand our team into the USA. We will enhance our technology and deliver even more value to our clients. We also plan to develop our new social community to allow our PTs to nurture and deepen relationships with their clients. The more a social community can power an individual's motivation, the longer they will stay on the platform, and the more they can maintain an active lifestyle.”
Mr Rushworth graduated from Bayes Business School in September 2020, and credited the course with playing a key role in building Class-ify. Class-ify is also a member of City’s Launch Lab and was working with students from the School’s MSc in Entrepreneurship Programme, who were conducting market research for them last term as part of their course.
“The EMBA gave me a much broader knowledge of business, which has been essential in starting a business and making the transition from a corporate career to a high-growth tech start-up,” he said.
“As a co-founder, I've had to wear many hats, which is both exciting and challenging, particularly in the very early days before we hired our team of experts. We also joined City University's Accelerator Programme and the team were helpful, partnering us with mentors and providing ideas and feedback on our plans as we launched our idea.”
Mr Rushworth said achieving ‘unicorn status’ is the project’s long-term goal, and is targeting partnerships with 28,000 personal trainers worldwide, building a network to ensure those PTs can grow their own brand.
Professor Costas Andriopoulos, Associate Dean for Entrepreneurship at Bayes Business School, said: “Tristan started working on this idea while taking my New Venture Creation course. I was immediately impressed by his extensive knowledge of the industry and the needs of his target market, as well as by his insatiable passion and determination to convert this into a business. This is an interesting space, and I am delighted to see that the idea that he developed on paper in the course became Class-ify. I am so proud of what he and his team have achieved, and I am looking forward to seeing how this very promising entrepreneurial journey will unfold in the near future.”
Marius Stancu, Start-up Incubator Manager at the Launch Lab, said: “Tristan and the Class-ify team have been involved in many of the programmes that City runs, so it is thrilling to see how well their crowdfunding campaign is going and shows that the business is well placed to take advantage of the changes in the fitness industry. This is just the start of a new chapter for Class-ify and we are excited to see how the company will develop.”