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HALO Talks

HALO Talks

Author: Pete Moore

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Entrepreneurs in the Health, Active Lifestyle and Outdoor ("HALO") sector sharing their stories
271 Episodes
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"The problem that trainers are looking to solve is finding and keeping new clients. For clients? They don't need another tool to find new content. They want the 'answer.' Jijo is a match.com for clients, and a Shopify on steroids for trainers," states Charles Friedberg, Founder & CEO. Charles has 25 years in financial services and as a (former) 'outsider' looking in to the HALO sector, he found a need that simply wasn't being addressed. He continues, "The problem isn't trainers not knowing how to post stuff on the Internet. It's how do they attract and keep clients? It's improving the LTV of the client, while simultaneously lowering the cost of acquisition." Charles and Pete chat about the digital landscape, the relationships between brands and the trainers, and more.
"The pandemic either will make you stronger, or will force you to get out of the way for new technology and new ideas. But I think a lot has been the same. Connecting with members in a deeper way is a big part of this. . . A huge portion of the value of a membership is the social experience. I can't see that ever really changing," states long time industry veteran, Rich Novelli. Pete and Rich touch on the many differences between High Volume Low Price (HVLP) business models versus a premium brand like Highpoint Sports and Wellness, and the effect COVID has had on both. As an example, Novelli continues, "A lot of our members continued to pay their dues. If you can't go to bat for people like that, what are you going to do?" It's about having a relationship with a 'human' versus having one with their credit card!
 "Brands are very powerful. It is the ultimate moat. When someone has built something that resonates with a lot of consumers and drives passion, that's when something is investible," states Jon Canarick. North Castle is one of the first, and most highly regarded private equity investors in the HALO sector. Pete and Jon discuss how North Castle evaluates a company, what they track, how to approach, criteria, why valuations these days tend to be very overblown, some fundamentals of finance, and more! This highly educational session is a must listen for entrepreneurs and business owners at all levels.
"I'm very bullish on the return to boutique and studio in-person fitness," states Jack Thomas, Founder & CEO of the high end chain BASE out of Bangkok, Thailand. This discussion touches on the state of COVID in Thailand and its affect on the industry. They also chat about the cultural differences around Asia's handling of the pandemic versus the US and UK, how BASE created and leveraged a unique technology for group fitness classes, some lessons learned while visiting boutique facilities in New York, investor sentiment in the HALO sector in Asia, and more! 
"Part of our Mission is to conduct an amazing, two way, connected, live stream workout with coaches that see and care about you. . . and two-way is the word I want to repeat! We're one of the leaders in it, and it's what the Peloton's of the world simply aren't doing," states CEO and serial entrepreneur Kyle Bergman. A former lacrosse college athlete who went on to play on the Israeli national team, Kyle got his retail background at Bloomingdales, coached for 4 years at Orange Theory and Flywheel and founded Sweat From Home due to COVID. This wide ranging chat touches on the critical importance of focusing on hiring the right people for word-of-mouth growth, the importance of using breakout rooms in ZOOM, dealing with competitors, and how Five Guys Burgers are critical to the fitness industry! (Not a typo!) Listen now to learn more.
When asked about the digital "hybridization" of the industry, long time industry veteran Bill McBride states, "It's going to be like a swimming pool. Not all your members are going to use it, but when you sell a membership, everyone wants it! So you must have a strong virtual, digital program available, now more so then ever." This wide ranging discussion touches on the effects the pandemic had in our sector, the stronger footing we must gain in Washington to effect real change, the need for licensure and standards, thoughts on the next few months as things continue to open up, and more!
"One thing campus recruiters, athletes, and professionals don't have a lot of is time," states The Athlete Book Founder, Ryan Drummond. In this update, Ryan takes us through their new point-based system focused around consuming content and creation of a leaderboard which puts coaches on the map of an athlete's career path and development. "Nobody wants to be on the bottom," he says. Among many other advantages, this also provides the employer the opportunity to tell the story of what they're looking for. It puts education about the company and culture ahead of the application links. Perhaps most exciting is their new, full integration with Remo's incredible event planning software which Integrity Square will be utilizing for an event, March 2021. 
On what ShapeLog can do for your club, Co-Founder & CEO Bryan O'Rear states, "Imagine user behavior is something that you know well in half of your facility, but that journey falls off very quickly as they traverse over into the strength and functional areas. There is now a chance for you to really understand that user behavior that otherwise was just dark. How do you plug yourself into their journey at the right time and make sure they're well aware of the complete offerings at your facility?"  ShapeLog brings a connectivity to the strength world which was previously unavailable--and that opens up an exciting new realm of possibilities. Listen now to learn more about this game-changing technology!
"There are some basic table stakes today with respect to how a member wants and expects to interact with their brand, so the days of having an app just to say you have an app. . .are over," states Bryan O'Rourke, Founder of Vedere Ventures and long time HALO sector veteran. Bryan began as a technologist in the food and beverage industry in the early 80's and entered this space in the mid 90's. This broad discussion touches on some highlights and insights gleaned over the past few months, discussion on valuations, why letting "sleeping members lie" is a horrible idea, the forthcoming push toward hybridization, and more!
Marcus Johnson is a modern Renaissance Man! He's an independent Billboard-ranked musician and NAACP Image Award-nominated jazz keyboardist and pianist. Also the CEO and Founder of FLO ("For The Love Of") Brands, and more recently FLO Wine, he states, "My life motto is DEEPER: "Dream, Engage, Environment. Plan. Execute. Reflect. Entrepreneurs are very good at execution, but bad at reflection because reflection calls for vulnerability." This wide ranging discussion touches on points business owners (of all sizes) will relate to. Topics like why you should "love fear" and what that means, growing a business, why it may be ok to make a graceful exit, why making a plan can sometimes be a double edged sword, and more are touched on.
"There is a need for personal, human connection that will never go away, no matter how good our garage gyms get, no matter how good the technology gets, people still want to work out together. If you've been in gyms recently as I have, the places are packed," states Hillis Lake of Eleiko. Hillis has been in the HALO sector since 1979 and started his career with Joe Cirulli. He discusses how free weights have done a complete full circle, shares his incredible come back story after being told he'd never walk again, how the industry will actually improve as a result of the pandemic, how continuing to sell price and discounting is extremely detrimental and what to do instead, and much more! 
With a background in planning, promoting and executing C-level, multinational conferences in the gas and oil sector, Singapore based, Ross Campbell went on to found The Fit Summit. "We started as a community business and built live events and thought leadership on top of that." He continues, "The HALO sector is such an amazing investment opportunity, however it doesn't get the airtime here in Asia and in more immature markets, but it's coming." He goes on to discuss the importance of ongoing business education (especially in Asia) thoughts on the "irrational development" around the sector, how COVID has sped up the consolidation of the industry, and much more!
Aaron attended the University of Texas at Austin and followed that up by obtaining his MBA. He worked his way through the ranks in a sports agency and eventually became the youngest NFL agent ever at 25. He went on to launch Revolving Mind Media and currently represents Jaylon Smith, Dez Bryant, Dennis Smith, Jr and many others. Pete and Aaron dive deep into the world of athlete endorsements, the marketing and diligence that goes into branding and equity deals, how deals have evolved through COVID, and more.    
Roland Memisevic is the CEO & Founder of Twenty Billion Neurons, a Microsoft M12-backed artificial intelligence startup committed to making personalized coaching and companionship accessible to all people. Having earned his Ph.D in Computer Science, Roland has been working in AI his entire career. Taylor Roth is the Product Owner for Fitness Ally, 20bn's direct to consumer, fully interactive AI fitness coach app that's seeing phenomenal traction. This wide ranging discussion touches on the increasing role of AI in the HALO sector, how their technology is being utilized by some top players in the space, thoughts on the future of tech in fitness, and more. 
"I put it away and then I went back to doing my thing. I didn't realize it was going to be useful!" laughs Dr. Jason Wersland, Founder of the Theragun when asked how he got started early on. (Like most great ideas, it was born of a personal frustration.) Five different versions later (created between 2008 - 2015) Jason met experienced angel investor Ben Nazarian, now the CEO. Learn more about what an investor mulls over when thinking about whether to back someone, the evolution of the product, why most people thought they were doing 'everything wrong' in the beginning, how to deal with knockoffs, and more.
"I always had a love for tech, what it can do, and how it can transform business . . . .and nothing is transforming fitness these days more than technology," states Adam Zeitsiff, CEO of Intelivideo. Adam has deep roots in the space, having started a video conferencing company at 22 and growing it to 130 employees, 9 offices, and $40M in revenues. This wide-ranging discussion touches on how tech has become (even more) critical to the industry since COVID, the powerful advantage clubs have of owning the "hyperlocal relationship with members," (versus Peloton, Mirror and others), the critical importance of having a top video on demand library, how tech can significantly add to the bottom line in addition to aiding in retention, digital workouts becoming intertwined with in-club workouts, and much more! 
Asked how Prospr began and what her initial pain points were, Erika laughs, "I thought I must just be a bad people manager! It wasn't until I started meeting others across different verticals that I realized, 'No, I don't stink at managing people! People are just really hard to manage . . . but specifically shift and hourly based work force!'" She discusses the ups and downs of developing software (as a non-coder!), how her (very simple but powerful) program helps increase productivity, employee satisfaction, and much more. This is a must listen for any owners or managers who works with shift or hourly based employees. 
"Before you become this fancy Swiss Army knife, are you even a decent pocket knife first? Do you do one thing really well yet? People will cancel memberships, they're less likely to cancel relationships," states Stu Brauer, host of the WTF Gym Talk podcast and owner of Urban MVMNT. Since 2015 he's focused on the "microgym" industry which came out of his years of experience with CrossFit and bigger box facilities. Stu discusses his thoughts on how to make it out the other side of COVID, retaining employees versus members, the importance of not being emotional about members, not memberships, and more!
"We didn't set out to build a tech company, we were looking at our own frustrations of being stuck at home," states Sami Asikainen, CEO & Co-Founder. After a highly successful campaign on Indigogo which raised $314,239 (628% of their $50,000 goal) Carbon Trainer has some fantastic momentum. Sami chats about his thoughts on competing / co-existing with digital providers and brick and mortar stores, how to determine what to raise, his process behind development and scaling the business, and more.
"I work closely with the Founders to align their vision with my understanding so I can go and create appropriate milestones," states Jeff Kazmucha when discussing part of his process working with clients. A fitness industry veteran, Jeff also talks about the critical importance of being an Evangelist for the companies he works with, thought processes behind scaling sensibly and properly, common mistakes most Founders make when coming to market, the relationship between brick and mortar and tech companies. predictions on the next few months of the HALO sector, and more!     
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