Passport Asia wants to get you into gyms across Asia
By Benjamin Cher December 24, 2015
- Aimed at fitness buffs, not discount hunters
- In midst of securing next round of funding
WHAT happens when a management consultant and a competitive jujitsu fighter meet? Well, in this case, such a meeting led to the birth of ‘gym aggregator platform’ Passport Asia.
“We had a couple of friends in the same line and that’s how we met and kickstarted this,” says Passport Asia cofounder Sanjey Chandran, a competitive jujitsu fighter in his own right (see picture above for proof!)
His cofounder and chief executive officer Sharad Lal adds, “There were three other friends involved in other capacities, but the two of us volunteered to take this on fulltime.”
The group had different problems in maintaining fitness, according to the duo, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore recently.
“My angle is that I am a competitive jujitsu fighter – I compete three to four times a year, so my fitness is important to me,” says Sanjey.
“I had a jujitsu gym, strength-and-conditioning and yoga programmes, as well as calisthenics on the side, but after a while, I realised that having three to four gym memberships was getting costly,” he adds.
That was when he thought of paying a flat fee to enjoy various gyms, an idea which also appealed to his friends.
“My friends found it tough to stay motivated when a single gym was monotonous to their training regime, and they were bored of it,” says Sanjey.
“They wanted to do a few things, and discovered that paying for three to four gym memberships or paying walk-in rates was quite expensive,” he adds.
Building the differentiator
While there are other gym aggregator platforms, like KFit, Sharad believes that Passport Asia has enough differentiators to attract a different crowd.
“Our biggest differentiator is our mobile-first platform and technology,” he says, adding that the startup spent three months to get its mobile app (pic) right.
“We had 35 versions of the app, and now it is ranked very high on iTunes (21 on App Annie) and Google Play (22 on App Annie),” he declares.
Another aspect that Passport Asia emphasised was making sure its partners could sync with its platform, according to Sharad.
“Classes get cancelled on a regular basis due to trainers being sick – we get to know that early, and users get to know it early and are offered alternate suggestions based on their profiles,” he says.
Schedules on their platform get updated up to three to six weeks in advance. “We also have a maximum number of same-day bookings for users,” he adds.
The demographics of the type of people who use Passport Asia is another key differentiator for its gym partners, according to Sanjey.
“Gyms are getting good quality walk-ins, people are genuinely looking to work out,” he says.
“Our user demographics are not just looking for discounts, and gyms have seen an increase in their memberships through our platform,” he claims.
Such differentiators have allowed the startup to push out across eight cities in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and Australia.
On your mark …
Passport Asia is now pointed at the right direction and is heading towards profitability, according to Sharad.
“At the beginning there was huge churn, but now churn is one-third of what it was, which has helped increased customer lifetime value,” he says, declining however to disclose those churn numbers.
“We have also brought discounts down after we realised that customers will come if we give them good customer service and bring acquisition costs down,” he adds.
The objective for Passport Asia now is to grow, and it is aiming to reach 12 more cities within a year.
“We want to be the No 1 fitness aggregator in the medium- to long-term,” says Sharad.
“In a five-year period, we want to be the fitness platform people go to,” he adds.
In terms of development, the team will be focusing on improving its app, as well as the vendor login for updating schedules.
The next step would be building in analytics, which would be key to helping its partners, according to Sharad.
“Analytics can help delve insights into what kind of demographics are searching and going for what kinds of classes,” says Sanjey (pic).
“We can then go back to our partners and help them identify hotspots and timings that they can take advantage of,” he adds.
In a pre-Series A round, Passport Asia was by a couple of angel investors whom the startup declines to name, but it is now out looking for new funding.
“We are currently looking for funding to take it to the next level and for expansion,” says Sharad. “We’ve already raised a seven-digit sum before the round has closed.”
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