This start-up wants to be the Airbnb of the fitness industry

25 Jul 2018

From left: GoFyt co-founders Jason Harvey and Andy McCracken. Image: TechWatch

Entrepreneur Andy McCracken tells TechWatch editor Emily McDaid about his vision for GoFyt’s place in the fitness app industry.

The market for fitness is changing. Young people are put off by pricey gym memberships, preferring instead to use ‘no frills’ options such as PureGym. Technology solutions can offer the flexibility that fitness-seekers want.

A Northern Ireland entrepreneur is looking to capitalise on this trend. Andy McCracken may be young, but he is experienced when it comes to start-ups, specifically user experience (UX) and interface (UI) design.

His venture, GoFyt, helps people to easily find physiotherapists, trainers or other fitness professionals. Through the location-based app, people can find a fitness pro, book them and pay for the session.

For the fitness professional, it helps them market themselves directly to a local customer base while also managing their diary, which McCracken believes has long been a pain point for trainers.

“Think Airbnb for the health and fitness industry,” he explained.

A quick search on GoFyt confirms that I can get a sports massage for £20 near my house. While I could Google the same information, the top hits tend to be pricier clinics, not necessarily very close by, rather than independent therapists. Maybe he’s on to something.

How did you come up with the idea?

McCracken said: “My two co-founders, Jason Harvey and Timmy Crowe, are both Irish international athletes. At one point, Jason was training for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when he got injured two weeks before his race and had to quickly find a massage therapist. Unable to find the right person, he finished last on race day. He found this was a consistent problem for other athletes.”

Is there competition for this kind of app?

“There are other platforms out there, and the problem isn’t attracting users, it’s keeping them on it,” said McCracken. “We’re differentiating by building an incentivised rewards scheme. A lister will get rewards if they consistently book sessions through GoFyt.”

Are these rewards partners already signed up?

McCracken said: “Yes, we’re partnered with a few key businesses; for example, Ros Nutrition, a supplement company, and Oly Clothing, a Belfast-based company that provides quality clothing, starting with the CrossFit industry.”

Who pays for it?

“It makes money on a commission basis,” said McCracken. “When someone books a physio, we take 9pc of that and the lister pays for it. They only pay for what they earn. Flexible pricing helps everyone.”

Did you build it yourselves?

“I’m a UX/UI designer myself and have done the platform design,” said McCracken. “Jason is on the commercial side, and Timmy is on the legal and policy side of the business.”

Having local connections has been the difference, he said. “Through Ulster University, we’ve found back-end developers, graphic designers, illustrators etc. Without having those connections, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

What are your funding plans?

McCracken explained that they need “a good marketing budget” because the marketplace is double-sided. He added that they are “missing a developer full-time along with a mobile app”.

He said: “We’re currently raising £250,000 to £300,000. We’re getting a business plan in place now.”

I can tell this isn’t your first rodeo.

McCracken said: “I was a freelancer for three or four years. I started a clothing brand with a few friends, and I’ve worked with Clinishare and other health start-ups.

“We secured a place on Invest NI’s Propel scheme, and it taught us what it takes to run a tech company, how to raise investment – so many factors that we either didn’t have any experience with or hadn’t considered.

“Everyone’s experiences as an entrepreneur are different. There’s no one size fits all. It’s important to learn as much as possible, stay humble, be friendly and work hard.”

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

GoFyt is a finalist in the annual Invent competition run by Connect at Catalyst Inc, aiming to showcase the best and brightest innovators that Northern Ireland has to offer. Invent 2018 will take place on Thursday 11 October in Belfast, where 12 finalists will battle it out for a £33,000 prize fund.

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland