Like any passionate entrepreneur, Gabe Valabov has had a business idea simmering for a while. And when the time was right, he jumped at the chance to bring it to life.
That time is June 2015, when Valabov and his co-founder and CTO Mikhail Zaturenskiy will launch Fit Patrol, the Uber for personal training.
A business plan on the shelf
Valabov (pictured left) first thought of the idea years ago in his college entrepreneurship class. Then a budding finance major, he modeled Best Buy's Geek Squad to create a business plan for an easy, quick and inexpensive way to get personal trainers on demand. The platform wasn't there yet and Valabov went off to work in the world of finance.
Years later, the technology, platform and business model was proven with Uber.
No excuses now
With a tagline like the Uber of personal training, the concept isn't foreign to anyone. The process is simple: app users select a workout type — think yoga, weightlifting, or cardio — and a certified trainer in the local area will be in your face and ready to whip you into shape within 30 minutes.
Each trainer will have ratings and reviews to make selection easier and more trustworthy. The price? $35. And that’s the sound of all those workout excuses disappearing…
Is $35 per class enough to entice certified trainers to join the site? According to Fit Patrol’s own research, trainers at bigbox gyms make $15 an hour on average and aren’t paid for the time in between clients.
A win-win app for athletes and trainers
That makes an app like this a win-win. Trainers can flick on a button in their app that says they’re ready to train, just like an Uber driver can, and make themselves available for the down time between meetings at the gym. And subtracting the $10 service fee that the app takes off the top, they’re bringing in more an hour than at their regular gym.
Valabov has always been into building businesses. “When other kids in kindergarten were drawing animals, I was drawing up plans for an office building.”
He met Zaturenskiy (pictured right), his co-founder, in high school and stayed connected through their common interests of tech and innovation. Zaturenskiy is a natural partner with his degree in computer science, but he was particularly interested in Fit Patrol because he sees “this amazing way to make working out so easy for so many people.”
Valabov’s own passion for fitness came in college when he became determined to beef up his traditionally skinny high school gymnast frame and put on 40 pounds of muscle.
The two co-founders got serious in December and have their lean, bootstrapping sights set on that June 2015 launch.
The growth of on-demand fitness
Although the fitness industry has been shifting toward on-demand services for some time now, there are no director competitors to this model — yet. ClassPass allows you to pay to drop in to classes at gyms around Chicago for $100 a month; Daily Burn has online trainers for $12.95 a month, while Vint, a peer-to-peer fitness app based in Stockholm/San Francisco, is like carpooling for workouts, but trainers are not necessarily certified – a key aspect of Fit Patrol’s business.
Fit Patrol has the functionality to search and schedule with a particular trainer, but loyalty will forgo the immediacy of having a trainer within 30 minutes. As the very millennial-minded founder explained, “you don't need a relationship with your trainer nowadays. What’s way more important is the instant gratification.”
It is precisely that instant gratification and immediacy that make up the secret sauce for Fit Patrol, and why they are likely to see success. That, and Valabov’s palpable excitement that infuses his every sentence when discussing Fit Patrol. “Being able to combine my passions of fitness and entrepreneurship are what have made creating this business so rewarding for me, personally and professionally.”
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