This is a follow up story for PushPress. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, my name is Dan Uyemura. I’m a co-founder and the current CEO of PushPress - a boutique fitness software platform.
The last time I submitted to Starter Story, we were a “boutique gym management software” Since then, our mission has grown bigger to serve the entire boutique fitness market with a more complex offering of software products that work together.
Our suite of products help fitness professionals attract, manage and grow every aspect of their in person or remote fitness business.
As of today, we’ve grown our business to about $300,000 MRR. We’ve assembled a top notch team of fitness professionals who have real-world experience in Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and even engineering - so our mission to serve our clients isn’t sacrificed by our mission to grow the business. If you asked me, this is the secret sauce to our business.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Needless to say, the industry (and the world) has gone through a massive transformation since we last posted our Starter Story. COVID has absolutely run through our industry of small, boutique fitness.
However - the very components of the type of fitness we serve also serves an interesting contrarian counter-thesis to the COVID pandemic, which has helped most of our clients survive a pandemic that has obliterated small businesses.
Fitness and Community.
COVID made the general population realize two things:
- Their personal fitness mattered in the face of a pandemic that popped up out of nowhere and killed people like anything we’ve ever seen.
- Their relationships, friendships, and community were meaningful aspects of joy, once we were forced into isolation.
As pure happenstance, we launched a Freemium Tier to our service in November 2019. We did this because of our core team mission and values - we understood that our community of clients needed a Free Tier product as they were standing up their new gyms.
What we didn’t realize is we were building a lifeline for many gyms when a pandemic would soon hit…
In hindsight, our Freemium Tier product not only saved a lot of gyms, but helped us build a client base to turn a huge corner once Covid eased.
During 2019 we were experimenting with launching ancillary products to better serve our client base. During Covid much of this was put on pause, but those experiments allowed us to launch Grow , our automated lead nurture, conversion and member retention system to market in early 2021.
In July 2021 we acquired a third vertical solution which allowed gyms and trainers to effectively build and monetize remote training businesses and track client progress - which we named Train.
As revenue has opened up, we’ve been doubling down and hiring in every key position we could find - sales, marketing, customer support, onboarding, engineering, and management.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One thing I've come to accept is at every stage of growth, there’s great learning opportunities. Last time I wrote in, I realized that marketing generally beats product - so focus on going to market and refining your sales pitch immediately as an entrepreneur..
This time, my biggest lesson learned is in order to grow - you have to start building a team of highly skilled and passionate professionals - AND let them do their work.
You will fail - a lot. If you’re here you’re likely not afraid of failing, but constant failure is wearing on the ego. Get ready to understand that being an entrepreneur means you will lose a little blood every day
That second part is critical. It’s so easy as the founder to try to meddle or get involved in every aspect of your operations - which will cause mistrust or generate a culture of “laissez faire” in your organization.
However, it’s not just that easy. Before you can hire great people into your business, you must first build the culture, process and documentation into your business.
In my particular case, I was ill-prepared to do any of this work. I’m a dreamer, not a documenter. I love big vision - I don’t love being in the weeds.
Thankfully I had 2 co-founders who balanced me out there, and a few of our early hires were military and had great interest and experience in process and documentation. I can honestly say, without those people by my side, PushPress would not be anywhere close to where it is today.
True, scalable growth is every startup founder’s goal - and to achieve that you must build a team and give them the right environment to do their job with excellence.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Our goals at PushPress are driven by our Core Values - to help all small gym owners and fitness professionals build more sustainable businesses so they can create healthier local communities.
As such, we are excited to look to the future - one which we see PushPress not only expanding our assistance horizontally into new fitness markets, but also vertically - with more products to help grow every aspect and stage of fitness businesses.
We are evaluating a Series A fundraise in 2022, which will open the doors for a lot of exciting and groundbreaking problems we can solve for our clients.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I don’t think I read or listen to anything most of your viewership would not have heard of. Last time I spoke about HOW I consume books vs. what books I consumer.
I’ll double down on that for those who didn’t read the last Starter Story - I consume my books and personal growth by running.
A founder’s life is busy, and thus time is precious. Two aspects of your life that you cannot neglect are personal development and fitness.
A mind without a body is just as useless as a body without a mind.
I combine daily 30 to 60 minute runs with listening to audiobooks to give myself the time to work on fitness while also separating myself from the world and its distractions to have focused learning time.
I recommend you do the same. Any form of monostructural exercise which allows you to just focus on the space between your ears will work: running, rowing, biking, etc.
I listen to Naval’s Tweetstorm turned podcast turned book maybe twice a year. It’s that influential and packed with important ideas.
My First Million challenges me to think about new, upcoming or unearthed business topics, which I then transform and apply to my personal situation or particular industry.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I think the most important thing about starting a business is knowing a few important concepts:
1 - You will fail - a lot.
If you’re here you’re likely not afraid of failing, but constant failure is wearing on the ego. Get ready to understand that being an entrepreneur means you will lose a little blood every day. Be prepared to go on a hike and realize when you’re halfway up a hill you chose the wrong trailhead. It’s the world we live in. Try to learn how to minimize the mistakes, or figure out when you’re on the wrong trail faster - but understand this is all part of the journey.
2 - It’s going to take more time and energy than you think.
Starting a business takes a lot of time and energy. Time can only be lessened by energy put into the business - but only if you’re putting the energy in the right places (see the hiking up the wrong trailhead part above). Get ready to embark on a decade long grind if you want to start a business - if you end up taking less, kudos!
3 - Find mentors if you can.
Everyone is scared to pay money or equity of their precious idea - but if you want to stop hiking up the wrong trailheads, find someone who can help you navigate to speed things up. It might feel expensive today, but the time you’ll save and the growth you will experience is worth it.
4 - Every success story involves several “lucky” breaks.
I put “lucky” in quotes cause we all know luck it’s purely random. But it will hit you in ways you couldn’t have planned for. You might toil for years with no real success only to find one event on one day might change the entire business in an instant.
*5. Luck favors the bold, but only the alive. *
You need to take shots to attract luck - but the second you fold up the business or give up, luck is out of the realm of possibility. Your number one (and only) goal should be to do everything you can to stay alive. Think of your business as an infant. Build up resilience and grow it past the initial stages of vulnerability - and keep doing that.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are actively hiring in many positions, but the biggest ones we want to fill are in the product area. Engineering, product visionaries and designers are some critical hires at this particular moment.
We specifically look for people who have a spark for fitness, love building communities and have a passion for solving problems with “the little guy”.
It would be best to check out Work for PushPress page to see what we’re hiring for right now.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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