The Munich startup eGym has its own specially designed training devices that are networked with an app and are now used in approximately 650 fitness studios in Germany and other European countries. The eGym Trainer app, which makes it possible for users to track their training history and results, can be found in more than 750 studios – within just a few years, a significant portion of the market has decided to work with eGym. And the company from the Bavarian capital city is continuing to grow rapidly! eGym has now stepped up their expansion into other European countries, and the team has long since exceeded 200 employees. We talked with founder Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer about eGym’s success story.
Pretty much everyone has gone down the embarrassing and expensive route of becoming a member of a fitness studio – and after enthusiastically working out for three or four weeks, slump back down on the sofa instead. After fighting back a guilty conscience, you decide to completely ignore the membership and never go back to the studio ever again. eGym’s vision is to change that state of affairs with their motto: “We want the gym to work for everyone!” With their technology and completely redefined training program, the Munich-based founders are looking pretty good in the highly competitive fitness market where they have been active since late 2012.
eGym’s story began in a slightly rundown university fitness studio at New York’s Columbia University: it was the first time founder Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer had ever gone to a fitness studio. The facilities cover three underground floors – there are no windows, no fresh air, and the equipment looks years out of date. Philipp’s athletic activities had been limited to soccer up to that point, and despite being skeptical at first, he gave it a try. A friend took him along and showed him how to work out properly. Philipp quickly realized that without his friend’s help, he probably would have done almost everything wrong. He also noticed that the majority of people in the studio were indeed doing most things incorrectly.
The secret to success: sports science and the right tools
Back in Germany, the eGym founder went to the nearest fitness studio and became a member, still motivated from his experience in the US. That made it all the more frustrating for him to find out there was such a lack of guidance and new ideas here, and he quickly threw in the towel. Then one day, he decided to do something about the outdated, standardized fitness studio concept himself and to revolutionize the market. He first got his co-founder and CTO Floral Sauter on board. At that point, both were at CDTM (Center for Digital Technology and Management) and the two then started the eGym project based on the company’s credo: “We want the gym to work for everybody!”
To make the project scientifically sound, Florian Eibl joined the team as their Head of Sports Science. Together, the three refined their new concept:
“What was most important to us was to make everyone involved in a fitness studio – members, trainers and owners – more successful. Our objective from the very beginning has been to help members reach their training goals faster and more reliably, to give trainers tools to improve the quality of their services and – last but not least – to support the owners on all levels of their value added chain. That means: more new members, reducing the cancellation rate and increasing earnings with additional revenue.”
A vision needs an inspiring environment
The young entrepreneurs feel completely at home in the environment offered by CDTM. According to Philipp, one of the most important things offered is the entrepreneurial mindset imparted by a range of mentors and their colleagues.
The first round of financing with HTGF
What the fitness visionaries needed first was the necessary amount of change in their pockets. In the beginning, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) took them under their wing. Philipp revealed that HTGF’s faith and willingness to take a risk was pivotal for the success that followed for the Munich-based startup. It was only after their first successful year on the market (2013) that it became easier to receive additional financing:
“There are new challenges that come up of course, since growth investors’ needs are quite different than those of early-stage investors.”
Since then, the company has grown enormously and now has, in addition to their headquarters in Munich, a second office in Berlin. The founders want to take advantage of what both cities have to offer instead of being limited to just one location. Philipp explained that while Berlin’s advantage is advanced experience in consumer internet services, Munich is a step ahead when it comes to qualified staff thanks to its universities. As a result, development of the eGym Fitness app is performed in the country’s capital city, while their employees in Munich focus on machine software and B2B.
If you ask the founders about their plans for the future, it quickly becomes apparent that their eGym journey has only just begun. Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer:
“We are constantly developing new, innovative products to reach our grand vision: a fully networked training space that works for every member. Moreover, we are also pushing ahead with further internationalization. At the beginning of this year, we opened an office with an eGym showroom in New York.”