Recently I had the opportunity to send some questions over to Ryan Makarem of Gymonji. He’s currently working on a new app: Mastrow. The app connects users with top rated personal trainers so that they can easily schedule workout sessions.
I was curious about Ryan’s plans for growth after recently launching the app. Furthermore, Mastrow is a platform that demands both professional trainers and customers. This leads to the classic chicken and egg problem, making growth all that more difficult.
Let’s see what Ryan has to say about growing an app and how he plans on dealing with this age-old problem.
First off, tell me a bit about yourself and the original idea behind what your project is. What’s Gymonji?
“I studied civil engineering at Cal Poly Pomona where I also took a few development courses. While in college I was a Personal Trainer at LA Fitness and Gold’s Gym, which is where my passion for fitness and helping others grew.
I had been working out since I was 15 and it ingrained work ethic and confidence in me like nothing ever could. I did personal training from age 18-23. After I graduated I started working for one of the largest tech companies in the world. I saw vastness and impact network technology make in everyday lives, and it dawned on me. Why isn’t there a prominent technological tool to catalyst people forward to better health and happiness?
I co-partnered with close friends of mine who also had the same passion, and we founded Gymonji with the purpose of developing software to make living a healthy lifestyle more accessible, affordable, and enjoyable for everyone.”
In terms of Gymonji, what were your main strategies for growth and how did you monetize the platform?
“Gymonji was our first branded product, so we learned as we went along with it. Our marketing strategy changed very much, first starting as email marketing and social network ads, to more of an influencer based campaign. We have since learned that an influencer based campaign, with a steady flow of advertisement, along with an incentive to refer people to the app, works the best.
Our monetization model changed as well. We had major plans to incorporate tools and other features that would be add-on purchases in the app. Instead, we decided to create another platform (Mastrow) to carry out the business model we initially intended. Gymonji’s monetization is through licensing of its software and advertisement.”
“Tell me a bit about Mastrow. What’s the philosophy behind this new app and how does this fit into your overall vision?
“Mastrow is the app for people to finally book sessions with rated and quality fitness professionals that meet their schedule, budgets, goals, and interests… all with no long-term contracts. Our vision to make living a healthy lifestyle accessible and enjoyable for everyone, and we believe this tool is a great step forward to that.
Most people don’t reach their health goals due to one of three reasons: They don’t have the budget/time for it, they don’t enjoy it and aren’t motivated, or they have fallen for scams and have given up.
We believe a proper education and training is the key to taking on any goal, so if we can pair you with a pro or “Mastrow” affordably that you enjoy working with, you can accomplish and maintain your health and fitness goal.”
With a platform such as Mastrow, you need both trainers and clients for those trainers. Naturally, this leads to the classic chicken and egg problem. How do you hope to alleviate this?
“We definitely want to compile as many Pros as possible so our client base as options. So our focus is on the Pros more because of that. We also acknowledge that the Pro doesn’t have anything to lose by signing up and everything to gain.
We also expect to have our ‘Pros’ work with us as ambassadors of the brand/product. They will share their profiles and sessions to market themselves, and therefore market the App. We want to instill a culture where everyone wins when it’s through Mastrow, and it’s dependent on our relationship to the Pros.”
What is the user acquisition strategy that you will follow to grow the Mastrow Platform?
“It’ll be a combination of the marketing strategy outlined above with Pros acting as Ambassadors with us, our referral system to where you get discounts on sessions by referring people or Pros receiving commissions on sessions by referring people/pros, influencer marketing campaigns, and Facebook/Google Ads. This will also be coupled with email marketing and event attendance.”
Since the trainers on Mastrow will be receiving compensation for their efforts, how will your team monetize the platform?
“We take a very small fee off of each transaction, similar to Airbnb, Uber, Letgo, and many other platforms. We also will be partnering with many other quality companies to create an affiliate program for our Pros and take small fees on those sellings.”
Did you validate the idea of Mastrow in the beginning? How did you make sure that this is what users wanted?
“We did to the best of our abilities. We took polling from hundreds of people to see what they thought may be a solution to more people living healthy, and it pointed to Mastrow. Also, we saw that building the app would be cheaper than data mining for months.”
How did you seek funding for your businesses?
“We’re still in the process of raising funds but it has occurred through networking at tech events and referrals in the entrepreneur community.”
What has been your biggest obstacle in regards to the success of Gymonji and Mastrow?
“It’s hard to pinpoint one experience. There have been many instances that would have brought down many other teams and startups. The biggest obstacle is not allowing negativity to set in, yet remain realistic. Funding, development, HR, marketing outcomes and more all have their ups and downs. The solution is to have your team and leadership stay unified and strong. We’ve been blessed to have a team that acts as a family.”
What has been your biggest win for Gymonji and/or Mastrow thus far? Press coverage, user growth, outside investments?
“The biggest win was the development of such a powerful and beautiful product as Mastrow. When people see it, they’ll wonder how a small company was able to put something so elegantly together, all in a year’s time. Most fortune 500 companies I’ve worked for and heard about couldn’t even come close. We attribute it to our passion to make this vision come true.”
Any thoughts you would like to add?
Thanks for your time Ryan. I appreciate the insight into how you plan on growing an app in such a competitive industry. Looking forward to seeing Mastrow help people get healthy on their time.
Best of luck with growth!