Our Start-up of the Week is Weld, a platform that connects users with health and fitness professionals for advice on wellbeing, exercise, lifestyle and diet.
Brad Woodhouse is the founder of Weld, a platform that he set up after realising how expensive and inaccessible health and wellness services could be.
Prior to launching the start-up, Woodhouse moved to the UK from South Africa to pursue a career in marketing and advertising. However, he ended up going down a different path after he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011, which required four high-risk surgeries and constant monitoring.
“Long story short, I survived, but not before I was temporarily paralysed on the left-hand side of my body during surgery,” Woodhouse told Siliconrepublic.com.
“For safety reasons, doctors had to leave 30pc of the tumour in the third ventricle of my brain, as it was inaccessible.”
He said that cancer changed his life “for the better”, making him realise what is most important in life. Since recovering, Woodhouse has gotten married and now has a one-year-old child. “I owe all of this to health and fitness,” he added.
“I have had some pretty epic lows along the way, anxiety, depression, survivor’s guilt and PTSD all featured at some point during my time with cancer. Only after realising that I’m here to help people did I start to come to terms with everything.”
The aim of Weld
While developing Weld, Woodhouse said he was inspired by the “best elements” of platforms such as Uber, Airbnb and Bumble, and decided to combine them into a platform that connects users with health professionals, trainers, instructors, nutritionists, industry experts, dieticians, midwives, doulas and more.
The Weld marketplace, which was launched last year, offers users a variety of premises, studios, gyms and parks where they can meet their chosen specialists, if they choose not to meet at home or in their offices. On the app, users can book, rate, review, communicate, browse and pay for sessions with professionals at times and locations that suit all parties.
“Weld has three target audiences because we are a three-sided marketplace,” Woodhouse said.
“The opportunity that we have identified is that there is no platform or business in the UK that ties together the customer, health professional and premises. We know that people want to access health professionals at times, locations, durations and costs that work for them, but this isn’t currently available on the market.”
How Weld works
During his recovery from cancer, Woodhouse said that focusing on health and fitness “kept him sane”.
“I decided I needed to make this my life work and founded Weld,” he added. “The platform is free to use, and there are no monthly fees or subscription costs. Health professionals are charged an 8pc service fee when someone completes a booking with them.
“Weld launched in September 2019 in the UK, with close to 500 users and 100 health professionals on the platform, I painstakingly went all over London to meet the most incredible health professionals who are now part of the platform.”
‘I ultimately want to create a platform for health and fitness that connects a user’s entire ecosystem together’
– BRAD WOODHOUSE
While health and fitness professionals can find clients, venue owners can also make money from renting out their premises for classes.
“If they have a home gym, spare room, rooftop terrace, garden, studio etc, they can rent these spaces out at times and prices that work for them. These are all ideal places to exercise, especially in places like London, where ground rent is so expensive,” Woodhouse said.
“If a user of the platform creates a group class, they’ll also earn 10pc back from the group session as cash, which incentivises users to create group sessions with their friends, colleagues and employees.
“This also takes the risk away from health professionals having to create group classes, meaning that the income from the session is guaranteed.”
Looking to the future
When asked what Weld’s main goal is, Woodhouse replied: “To give people hope.”
“I ultimately want to create a platform for health and fitness that connects a user’s entire ecosystem together, connecting their performance from Weld to all of their health and fitness providers, such as doctors, personal trainers, yoga teachers, nutritionists, so that there is a more holistic view of health and fitness.”
The Weld app is available on iOS and Android, with a version for customers and another for professionals. Woodhouse said that the team is in the process of redesigning the platform’s front-end, while “continuously iterating on the back-end to keep up with demand and the feedback received so far”.
“One of the elements of Weld that we pride ourselves on is that we aren’t doing this in a silo and we rely on the feedback from everyone using the platform. We want to give back to these people, not only by improving the Weld apps but also by enriching their lives.”
Taking a chance
When asked how he has settled into the London start-up scene, Woodhouse said he is fortunate to live in the city, which is “expensive in terms of rent and services” but provides access to “amazing start-up events, funding opportunities, suppliers and other resources”.
In terms of advice for other people considering setting up a business, Woodhouse said: “It’s hard getting out the door and committing to something but, at the same time, you don’t want to live with regret and see your idea being done by someone else in the future.
“Yes, a job guarantees a salary, a pension and a whole host of other benefits, but what I wanted to do with Weld wasn’t being done by anybody else. Rather than sitting on my hands and waiting for it to pop up in a couple of years then live to regret it, I figured I’d give it a go.
“I’m 32, married and have a mortgage and a one-year-old baby, which are probably indicators that I did all of this too late. If I can do this, then so can those reading this. Most people are setting down into a comfortable career, where the growth path is clear. Mine isn’t and I absolutely love that, because I get to decide.”
Woodhouse added that anybody considering following a similar path should “always be open to learning and improving your knowledge base”.
“All the answers are out there, somewhere. You just need to be open to looking for them and mining the information that’s available.”
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