Startups to watch

Startup to Watch: GoSweat

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Chris Apostolou

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Here at Work In Startups, we’re on a mission to champion the best and most exciting startups in the UK. To support this, we’re starting a new blog series highlighting some of the most innovative and fast-growing startups around. Follow us as we interview startup founders and employees across the country and find out more about their goals and ambitions, what the future holds and (for all you startup jobseekers out there looking for the inside scoop) what they look for in a prospective employee.

This week, we’re interviewing Steph Newport-Booth, Co-Founder of GoSweat: a wellness benefit for companies that gives their employees the freedom to discover and book 1000s of fitness and wellbeing experiences. She describes it as “doing for fitness what Tripadvisor has done for travel or JustEats for takeaways”.

Hi Steph, what would you say GoSweat’s mission is?

To offer any activity, at any time, to anyone! When it comes to our own employees – we want to be able to offer them any experience that they want and support their physical health. We don’t want to offer them the standard ‘gym membership’ that most startup companies offer their employees. Instead, we want to give them the freedom and flexibility to do the classes that they enjoy and that support their physical and mental wellbeing. If they want to use Pure Gym or have physiotherapy – they can do this all through GoSweat. We’re the best company perk out there! 

What are your values as a startup employer?

Commitment, collaboration, autonomy and fun! We work with companies, so success and growing the business really starts within our office and making it a comfortable, friendly and fun place to work. 

Also, everyone that works here has a real commitment to our mission: getting people into fitness! We’re a start up that has a real drive, and the people who work here have a connection to sport and activities and want to share that with as many people as possible. 

Myself and Alex, my Co-Founder, did the Aldi Area Manager Graduate Scheme and whilst we were very well paid, and it was clear that we were looked after financially, the benefits were very black and white. Both of us are passionate about fitness and well-being, so we were looking at employee perks like cheaper gym memberships etc. – and they weren’t that good and didn’t really meet our needs. We realised that this was the norm, across startups and bigger corporates! And when it comes to booking experiences, and fun sporting activities like boxing and climbing, there are so many barriers in terms of price. 

The “go to” thing is to give your employees gym memberships, and this is very outdated. Employers get around 5.4% of actual engagement with this method. However with GoSweat, engagement jumps to 83%. That’s crazy different! This is because employees can book a range of things: high-board diving, massages, rock climbing – you name it. 

How have you guys grown since GoSweat was founded in 2016?

It has been pretty crazy. Over the past few years, the GoSweat team has grown massively, as have the number of companies we work with. From a personal perspective, GoSweat doesn’t just feel like it’s my startup anymore: it belongs to everyone who uses it and works here. We all see where we are heading and we’re motivated to get there! We truly want to conquer the country! 

Our growth in 2019 in particular was pretty astonishing. In January 2019, 8 of us were working out of a pretty small office. Now we’ve moved into a 35-50 people office and there are 15 of us! We’ve nearly doubled our workforce and hope to fill up our new office in 2020. And we think we can – the fitness industry is massive, there’s room for nimble startup operators like ourselves to disrupt things, and we have plenty of opportunity to chase down. There’s a lot of scope for us to grow.

What’s next for GoSweat in the UK and internationally?

We want to conquer the country! We’re launching in 12 new cities in the UK this year, and in 2021 we might go international. We essentially want to cover all the cities where companies want GoSweat and don’t have it. We also want to continue expanding the number of experiences we offer.

What do you look for in an employee?

We look for the kind of people that share our passion and enthusiasm for trying new things, however weird and wacky! For example, last night we all decided to go trampolining. It was last minute and spontaneous, but everyone was very keen and we had the best time. People can have amazing CVs and experience, but when you talk to them they’re not that interested in trying new experiences, which is kind of what our startup company stands for! We also want people that are energetic, outgoing and easy to get along with. You spend the majority of your time at work, so why not enjoy it?

What advice would you give to people thinking about founding their own company but currently unsure? What about people just leaving school/university?

The best advice I can give is to think about the best thing that could happen. Don’t focus on the worst that could happen. You’ve got to think positively about what you are doing and where you are going, and you’ve got to think that you can make the best case scenario happen! It’s especially important to have a positive mindset at the beginning, because things can get tough. 

Also, don’t found a startup by yourself! It’s always good to go into it with a partner (or two!) that you know you can rely on. As I’ve said, the path to success is not always linear and being a founder can be quite tough. It’s invaluable having other people to share the load. But, as the saying goes: “too many chefs spoil the broth”! More than three startup founders can be a bit too much. 

And don’t be afraid to bootstrap something together. We didn’t have any funding for the first two and a half years, so very much funnelled our own money into building GoSweat at the beginning. When we did get funding, however, it was invaluable. It gives you rocket fuel to expand and develop your product offering. 

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