When international track athlete Jason Harvey was forced to spend a few years on the sidelines following a training injury, it gave him time to think about his future career. After struggling to find a local physiotherapist, he turned a problem into an opportunity by cofounding Gofyt (an acronym for Go Find Your Trainer) with a friend.
Gofyt is an online marketplace that connects health and fitness professionals (sellers) with customers (buyers) in their local area. Buyers can search for listings and book sessions which are priced depending on the length of the available slot. On the flip side, health professionals can view client bookings and appointment times/locations, in addition to earnings and value-per-customer data, through a dashboard.
Based at the Ormeau Baths coworking space in Belfast, the company emerged out of beta in March and is now looking to acquire users while encouraging fitness professionals to swap pen and paper for its online platform. Cofounder and director Harvey believes that his expertise in health and fitness will help him communicate the platform’s value to prospective users.
We spoke with the entrepreneur to find out more.
What gave you the idea for Gofyt?
It came to me in 2017. I had moved to Loughborough to train to compete for Ireland and Northern Ireland in the 400m hurdle at the 2014 Commonwealth Games when I suffered a bad ankle injury. I couldn’t get the right treatment from a therapist that suited me, which gave me the idea for the business.
At first I thought it was just a personal problem than a global one. I said to my cofounder Andy McCracken that I didn’t think it was a serious idea or would help other people. He disagreed, saying that it was a great one and that we should do it.
How has the platform evolved over time?
Gofyt has completely changed and evolved from when I started it. I initially wanted to find therapists in my area so did a lot of marketing research on platforms such as ClassPass and MindBody, in addition to a range of booking systems.
We found that the one conundrum that therapists face is how to market themselves online, especially in their local area and on social media. We initially had the idea of just helping users find therapists, but we never thought about the booking system aspect that people actually need. Therapists weren’t initially buying into us because they couldn’t add their existing bookings, special offers or direct debits, so that became our focus.
Has your athletics background helped you get Gofyt off the ground?
Yes – I think the connections I have from the sporting world to promote the website are my trump card; I don’t think many people have that. People usually want to create something because they heard it from somebody else, whereas I’m so heavily involved in sport that it would be silly for me to step away from it.
Have you had any investment?
We got funding from the University of Ulster, a loan note for £15k, then support from the Ignite programme and invest NI.
How are you going to attract more buyers and sellers to the platform?
I feel that social media will be the big way forward. Andy and I are trying to be more front-facing, talking about the company on our website and social media to make things fun, enjoyable and exciting. It’s a little bit different to your bog standard ‘health’ imagery of a person doing half naked lunges. That’s not what health and fitness is about but that’s what a lot of people associate with it.
We’re talking about doing a campaign for young people to get fit and healthy in 2019. I’m so heavily involved in health and fitness and understand that it’s a huge problem, so I want to educate people. That’s the main thing. We’re speaking to listings about their problems and pitfalls and looking for feedback on their stories, providing valuable information that people can take away.
How has being based at Ormeau Baths worked out for you?
It’s been massive for us and a big eye opener for me from a business perspective because I haven’t really been in that environment too much. We’re now really friendly with a range of different teams there who give us technical feedback for free.
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