“We Removed Everything That Could Be Automated”

Edition vc.ru talked to the investor and the entrepreneur Tikhon Skew, which opened in Moscow fitness club at the intersection of it and offline business under the name Raketa. By automating business processes and the rejection of offline sales of the subscriptions in favor of online subscriptions, he was able to reduce the price of services. In addition, the Skew has developed and implemented a system that collects data about visitors of the fitness club that will allow you to develop business and build marketing communications based on metrics. When in 2008 in Russia there was a crisis, the entrepreneur Tikhon Skew had to sell a stake in the construction firm “Land of technology”. He drew attention to a friend who has developed his own fitness club.

Despite the recession, his business grew. “I was doing fitness as a lover, but then realized that it was an interesting business idea that can develop and develop. I wanted to make the sport accessible, so started to search the first site for the fitness club economy class,” — says the Slant.

In 2009, he found a suitable place in Balashikha — the building of the former sports complex. There have already been renovated, and the businessman was only to purchase equipment and to open a club. However, it turned out that the previous tenant, who opened a fitness club, gathered from the clients money and disappeared after a year. “Several times he mortgaged the equipment and raised money from banks and people — 300 million rubles.

Because of this, suffered several leasing companies — a scenario he spent in five different clubs. And we inherited three thousand unhappy people who are required to return the money. And the owner offered a room in exchange for a year we served them all for free,” says Oblique. Despite the fact that his company lost 80% of its revenue, he was able to save on repairs and get a loyal audience.

Gradually his club under the brand of “Physics” became profitable, and the entrepreneur decided to expand the network. At first he planned to restore the old suburban fitness centers, but later refused from this idea due to the high operating costs. “FLC is a separate building, so there occurs a lot of additional costs for utilities, security, cleaning and so on,” explains Gook.

The owner went to Europe to learn how the business model of fitness clubs in the economy class there. In Germany, he drew attention to the concept of a network called McFit. “Their rooms were small. There was quality equipment, but a monthly subscription cost only €20. In Russia, this was not, I began to learn more and has caught the idea,” says the entrepreneur.

The network as cut costs. In one hall there were only three employees, and the whole process of training was based on the principle of self-service. In Moscow in early 2010-ies of the largest chain of fitness clubs was World Class.

“They took a client from one to two thousand dollars for an annual subscription. The Germans — €20 per month. This was hard to marry in my head, and I wanted to open peoples access to sports infrastructure at all of the other money,” explains Oblique. To reduce the cost of services, an entrepreneur in the first place decided to abandon the placement of the clubs in separate buildings, and began to negotiate with the shopping centres in the cities of the Moscow region.

In 2011 there were suitable premises — the owner of the Mall “Trading quarter” is planned to refurbish the third floor for offices, but the Slant suggested to open up a fitness club, if he will make the necessary repairs. The owner agreed. Total investments, with regard to the lease contracts for professional Technogym equipment amounted to $1.8 million. Monthly subscription cost 900 rubles.

To achieve such rates, Tikhon Slant, we had to create our own it platform and to introduce cashless payment. So he was able to refuse to hire extra employees and automate many business processes. According to him, in 2011, the market was not yet ready for such a transformation.

“Bank cards and cashless payments have not been so common. But we could not put the cashier, who every month collects several thousand visitors money and controlled by someone from the visitors paid and who is not,” he says. To avoid this, he planned to introduce a monthly subscription, but in the banking market was not yet appropriate technology for recurrent payments. “We helped consult with employees of Sberbank.

They told how in Russia in General is built banking system, why not here what is in Europe. During negotiations with them we got a huge amount of information. Our it Department all this was absorbed and implemented,” says Oblique. “Physics” was our training ground.

There we realized how the club works, and that it should be implemented. We were able to calculate the maximum number of people that can work simultaneously without interfering with each other, how to arrange the internal zones are supposed to be changing rooms, finally. In 2014, the Oblique sold his interest in Physics and became interested in it startups in the field of sports and fitness, having invested in Kazan ecommerce service for selling gym memberships Classfit, and other projects.

“I wasnt going to immediately create a competitive project. But in the end I realized that online fitness is a hard story and began to assemble a team for Raketa. A part of this team has been with me on previous projects, the part is new people who came into the gym from other industries. And that was my goal. After all, those people that have already been in this industry wont introduce anything new,” explains Oblique.

We chose the name Raketa reason, in the code sewn. The rocket was created in order to defeat the force of gravity and see the Earth from a height. In my view, the force of attraction represents demotivation, and Raketa is, first and foremost, a victory over laziness.

Work on the Raketa began at the end of 2015. Tikhon Oblique decided to combine sport and it is making the fitness club economy class with its own it platform, which would allow you to automate most business processes. The platform has received the name Raketa Lab. To develop the entrepreneur spent 5 million rubles.

It monitors sales, collects statistical information about users and monitors the workload of clubs. The first fitness club Raketa opened in Moscow in January 2017 at the Mall Mari. Second — February 25. Until the end of the year, the entrepreneur plans to launch five more institutions, and within three years to increase the number up to 17.

For this, he has attracted 300 million rubles from the investment Fund “from neighboring countries”, which name does not reveal Oblique. The first month of classes in Raketa is 4.5 thousand rubles. This amount includes the cost of registration of the user on the online platform, the club bracelet, which the system takes into account visits to the gym, as well as the monthly.

In subsequent months, the visitor has already paid for 1,5 thousand rubles. Purchase a subscription only online. “The reception we have no racks, no of employees, who you meet and see if you have a map or not. There are only service-consultants to help the visitors who passed by and decided to buy a subscription, make a purchase on the Internet,” says Oblique.

Also at the reception the newly arrived guests are given special bracelets by which people can get into the hall. This visitor is also required to verify their identity by fingerprint, so no one could use his season ticket in case of loss of the bracelet. “Together with the “alpha-Bank” developed a new PayPass wristband that visitors will be able to use not only the club but also for purchases in other places.

And further we plan to implement the function of a fitness tracker,” says Oblique. According to the businessman, thanks to this system he was able not only to refuse sales, but to make the process of buying a ticket more transparent. “When you get a subscription to a fitness club, you never really cant assume that if you are lucky, or you were fooled”.

You come to the club, and you say. “Today is the last day of the promotion, tomorrow it will end, it is necessary to decide quickly”. Is fair shares and non-transparent prices. No one club that openly declares the value on the website, mainly targets.

The sale of season tickets via the Internet allow Raketa to abandon spending on outdoor advertising and to focus on promoting through online channels, targeters on the target audience. “Low price still has the entry threshold. We select our audience, which shares our values. So people can come here and find like-minded people,” says Oblique.

Thanks to the tracker company can collect not only statistics about users, but also information about the number and duration of sessions held at the club. According to Tikhon, the Skew, this opens up new opportunities for marketing, allowing you to make it more personalized. “The world has completely changed. Now such technologies have come that build communication differently.

But few who work with clients efficiently. In regular gyms managers work with visitors, with calls, with the bases, but even the market leaders rarely communicate with customers via e-mail, completely dismissing one of the main channels of communication, an absolutely necessary channel”. Usually it all comes down to SMS every six months. “Will renew?” just like in the bath.

Or they inform about seasonal promotions — usually on 14 and 23 February. “Come left 10 pass discount”. According to Oblique, in the first week after the opening of the gym in Marino has sold more than 1,000 season tickets. In addition Raketa plans to take part in specially equipped areas inside fitness clubs to private coaches and organizations to conduct group classes — yoga, Boxing, aerobics and other activities.

On the inner slang of the company such zones are called “satellites”. “Satellite is a club in the club. Now developing different studios because people want their own business, they dont want to work for the club. We run them over, and they pay rent and a percentage of sales,” says Oblique.

According to the entrepreneur, fitness club in this case is the supplier of traffic, redirecting it to the satellites. This allows them to abandon the marketing costs and concentrate on work. “It is sad that now in every district there are great trainers with their audience, which removed a terrible premise.

Our task is to raise the audience from the cellars here. Satellites are Autonomous, they have their own pricelist and our own coaches,” explains the entrepreneur. “To give quality at a low price — we had to cut all expenses. We removed everything that could be automated.

Now in the hall on the same shift has a staff of three. But its a lot — in the future there will be two. Cleaners and coaches, too, are not our employees, they work under contract,” says Oblique. In Russia, many fitness clubs offer coaches “from outside” the possibility that in the gym classes with their own clients in exchange for 30-70% of the income.

The first such scheme proposed a network of “Republic”. “We fine-tuned it, adjusted for our own philosophy,” — said Tikhon Oblique. Raketa has selected 10 trainers and asked them to take all the earnings yourself, in that case, if in a month they will spend at least 150 training. They had the incentive to bring to the gym with your old clients who have either abandoned the sport or do it at another club.

“Refusing to take money from coaches, we got a lot more. They have become our brand ambassadors as we help them to make money and take nothing in return if they get it. Satisfaction from the company they convey to our customers”.

We are trying to find a win-win situation with all. With clients, with contractors, with our staff. How to build such relationships. Something has to give in order to get something in return. We are not rectilinear, and the world has changed.

Now it is impossible to act directly, you need to share, look for ways to benefit not directly. Another area of monetization in cooperation with the it startups in the field of fitness. Oblique plans to open their API Raketa Lab, so they can integrate the platform into their projects, or to sell their services with it.

“Ive done startups in the field of fitness, and I know that all entrepreneurs do not have the space and the audience could try their product. We are going to be a platform where a startup which is related to the sport, will be able to sell your services online and offline,” he notes. In the future, Oblique plans to launch a startup accelerator for projects in the field of sport and health.

“We will select projects related to fitness and give them the opportunity to test their models. Maybe well even invest in them a little money,” he says. The more around digital things, the more will be demanded basic things. Dumbbell, barbell, horizontal bar, Jogging track, which cant be complicate.

But you can computerize everything that is around. To reduce the use of the human factor. According to the Skew, the Russian market of fitness clubs could rise “at least five times”. “A place to build another nationwide network, there really is.

We respect our competitors, and in any case do not claim that our model is correct. Fitness has so many possibilities. You can build prakticheskoe any network, from low – cost to the premium segment,” he said. The company plans to 2019 to begin selling franchise.

“We need time to debug all business processes. First and foremost, franchising is a guide to using the brand, a description of all business processes, and scaling. Unfortunately, in Russia, franchising is all bad, because in law this story is not secure and not working. Why we have so few successful cases, but very many negative,” he notes.

The purpose of Tikhon Oblique — to grow around the brand a loyal audience which will become consumers of other products. “In the evening in our fitness club has a DJ. But in addition we want to make your music label Raketa Music, which will bring together like-minded people in one party. In addition, we are negotiating about the organization of the daytime parties at one of the famous music festival,” he says.

According to the Skew, in the future the collaboration will be to penetrate all spheres of society. “All intertwined. The world is now changing very fast, and collaboration is the intersection of the interests of a few companies that may never have worked, and work will no longer. But they are laid out and make something cool. So, in my opinion, the greatest application of resources and effort which in return give the maximum effect,” he concludes.

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