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FORTË is a provider of on-demand boutique fitness classes
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco Roizen speak with Lauren Foundos, founder and CEO at FORTË, a provider of on-demand boutique fitness classes.
FORTË help gyms and studios create a digital experience by providing hardware and software that it installs to enables them to do high quality live broadcasts. They get a platform that's white label, branded for them, integrated into their site, app, or ecosystem. Users are able to connects their wearable so they can compete in real time and have social interaction. The company also has music licensing deals for the gyms to leverage, and the company also integrates with their booking software and management systems.
The company has raised $10.9 million in funding from investors that include Mindshift Capital and Golden Seeds Venture Fund.
Our overall goal with these podcasts is to understand how technology is radically changing healthcare and empowering consumers to be more proactive about their health.
Highlights from the interview:
- The idea for FORTË came when Foundos was working on Wall Street and living next to a Peloton and thought that bigger brands should be doing something similar. So she started talking to companies and gyms and, while a lot of them didn't like the idea of adopting technology, some of them did and that inspired her to found the company.
- The big opportunity is that 80% people in America still don't work out and so streaming is really the gateway for them to dip their toe in the water and, ultimately, be able to go to these facilities and do some sort of hybrid of the two. That's what makes digital fitness so exciting.
- The two-way video is a real game changer, making it pretty much like being in the class even when you're at home. The instructor can see you, so if you stop they can motivate you, making it a much different experience from just watching a video by yourself.
- The company gives people control over who sees what, depending on their comfort level: users can show their video only their friends, or only to the trainer. The thesis there was that it would get more people involved in trying it and then, eventually, they would become a member, and actually go to the facility as well.
- Two-thirds of people want to be a part of a community; there's one-third of people that are motivated, they can work out by themselves, but most people enjoy being a part of a community. And so if somebody is new to working out, they need to connect with the trainer to be able to come back and have that accountability.
- FORTË's software live produces the classes. The company has custom scripts for the classes, the software kicks it off live, then it ends the class, and then it renders it on demand in half a second. So, from the gym's perspective, they just need their instructor to turn on the mic, start and stop on time, and teach a great class. Otherwise, they have to have a TV studio to do it, which is why they were not doing live before the pandemic.
- People are going 60% in person for their workouts, and 40% digital. Just like the work from home paradigm has shifted, this has shifted as well: people realize that they don't need to go there everyday to get a workout and that they could do it at home, so they've shifted their behavior and they're used to using digital. The consumer took what was going to happen in the next five years and made it happen in just a couple months.
- People are 22% more engaged when they use FORTË, so they are visiting more time per week, because they have the option to take a class at home. Whereas, before, if they couldn't get there, they didn't do it. And so, they're actually more engaged having the flexibility to take a digital class as well.
- COVID forced gyms to adjust much faster than they were going to. They went from a little bit hesitant, because it was just a different business model and it's hard for them to adapt from what they were used to, to now being ready for digital and the hybrid model.
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