Founders Fridays is a new StartupAmsterdam initiative that showcases local entrepreneurs who help strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting founders to answer five questions, we want to shine a light on our ecosystem’s most inspirational stories and role models. We hope that we’ll all learn and grow together by providing startup founders with a space to share their insights and experience.
This week we spoke to Philip Biedermann, co-founder of Fitee. Its community platform aims to connect students, expats, Amsterdammers and freelancers through sports.
1. How did your career journey lead you to founding Fitee?
Long story short, we all began as HvA students studying International sports management and Business. During our studies we were given the opportunity to try our hand at entrepreneurship. We all come from different backgrounds – Nicolae from Moldova, Victoria India from the UK and Philip from Germany – therefore we are experts at being ‘internationals’. This proved to be both a strength and a weakness in our industry. Making friends and maintaining a social life is hard at the best of times, but belonging to a social and active community abroad? Virtually impossible. That is why we decided it was time to change that.
Combining our passion for sports with our international backgrounds and business skills, a business model was formed and Fitee was born.
The three of us have been working on it on and off for just over a year now, committing to full time last September. Moreover, we officially launched our first ‘ReBoot’ workouts and personal training sessions in January this year, and are currently offering a yoga trial to our community.
2. What makes Amsterdam a great city and ecosystem for a startup founder?
Being a modern and very multicultural city, Amsterdam embraces startup life in a majestic and exciting manner. There’s an abundance of progressive thinkers, business accelerators, networks and co-working spaces here. Additionally, being so international and located very centrally in Europe, it’s proved to be a logistically practical city to set up a base. I also have great respect for the Dutchies’ ability to cycle with three kids whilst eating a sandwich and holding an umbrella. This sort of attitude helps aid our creative thinking and pushes us to be more innovative.
The stereotype has the Dutch down as very direct individuals, and the same can be said for their approach to business. They have very advanced digitalisation and sustainable and innovative initiatives, and the country is known for having great personal freedom, an excellent open economy and good access to open data. All of which are strong indicators of a good startup environment.
3. What are the goals for Fitee, and its needs, for the upcoming months?
Fitee’s overall goal is to create a thriving community of sporty and social individuals. We want to create a safe and inclusive environment for internationals across Europe, one city at a time. Within this community we provide sporting opportunities for everyone. This includes enabling connections between individuals and organising events for the community as a whole. Fitee has already established a steady flow of bootcamps and personal training clients since January, and we are continuing to gain momentum.
However, in order to make it to the next phase, growth, we need to attract more people with the same goals. Over the next six months, Fitee hopes to grow the community up to 2,000 members, including around 200 to 300 active participants. When we say active participants, we don’t just mean those hard-core sweaty bootcamp goers, we also mean those who have noticed a significant positive difference in their fitness levels and social lives since joining us!
Not only that, but we are working on developing an app that will make it more convenient and simpler for members to talk to one another, organise meetups and book a variety of ReBoot workouts through Fitee. In order to achieve this, we need to reach consistent numbers for every bootcamp and maintain a minimum of three personal training clients a month until June.
4. What has been a recent win for your business?
Fitee has accomplished rather a lot in such a short period (if I do say so myself!) – we have a bubbly community of around 1000 members across all channels. As well as acquiring our first recurring customers, we have made over 60 sales in less than two months after opening up to the public. Considering we are a team of three innocent students who do not yet have decades of experience under our belt, don’t speak a word of Dutch, and it’s all happened during covid times… I think it’s been a pretty big win all around for us.
5. What has been a recent challenge for your business, and what have you learned from it?
Hmmm… what’s not challenging about building a company? Safe to say, whether it’s walking around in the cold and rain handing out leaflets or coding a website without any IT background, the challenges are constant. However, with every stumble and flop, we have gained immense experience and improved our services because of it. Thus, we do our utmost to maintain a transparent and trustworthy service for anyone involved. The greatest challenge we have faced is although we have many inquiries and positive responses, it is not uncommon for things to fall through. For example, many people say they will come to the bootcamps and then do not turn up, or, for instance, we get weekly requests for a personal trainer and after setting up a session that is when the customer for whatever reason decides to drop off the face of the planet.
As for the bootcamps, we quickly discovered that if we ‘over-offer’, i.e. give away free passes or organise additional activities with no added cost, it can appear to the consumer that we are too good to be true, or maybe they think we are a scam or quite simply not well known enough to gain their trust. These are all perfectly logical reactions, it simply takes time to gain traction and trust. That being said, we would be ecstatic if people came along and realised through their own experience what an epic vibe they can get from our workouts – and, well, the community itself includes some pretty cool people.