StartUp of the Week: The HITZone
We love startups that take a different approach and disrupt existing industries. One such business is this week's StartUp of the Week, The HITZone.
Founders Stuart and Jodi discovered a gap in the market for a system that would be halfway between a traditional gym and personal training - high-intensity exercise using innovative equipment and techniques that would get results quickly, helping people stay motivated and fit it into their busy schedules. We caught up with Stuart and Jodi over a nice drink.
Business name: The HITZone
Founders' names: Stuart Cain and Jodi Ambrose
Loan funds received: £14,500
Based in: Telford, Shropshire
1. Explain your business in the time it would take your drink to be poured
The HITZone is a personal training studio based around heart rate monitoring, high intensity, small group PT-led workouts using two revolutionary and unique HIT Machines, and a small amount of light studio equipment. The machines are low impact and respond to the user's force with varying levels of resistance, allowing people of any fitness level to work out to their maximum threshold. The machine technology also means users experience less muscle pain in the days after exercising.
The HITZone isn't a gym... it's for people who want maximum results in minimum time. Whether the aim is to lose weight, be healthier, increase fitness levels or increase performance levels in sport, the unique small group approach at The HITZone will help.
2. Where are you based, and why is it a good location for your business?
We are based on a business park in Telford, Shropshire. Telford is a large town with a growing population and an increasing number of businesses. This gives us a large potential customer base of people who want to get fitter, healthier in the quickest and most efficient way possible.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
Stuart worked in the health and fitness industry previously, and met the owner of a company which manufactured the HIT Machines. This meeting led us to explore the potential for a studio-only, small group personal training centre instead of the traditional gym or one-on-one personal training approach.
4. What’s the business model?
We have a small studio setting with our team, giving a very personal service to individuals looking to change their lives by becoming fitter and healthier. This is our ethos and will be the same, whether we have one studio or, hopefully one day, one hundred studios!
5. Who are your competitors?
The beauty of our business is that we have no direct competitors. We fill a gap between traditional personal trainers and gyms. We offer a personal level of service that can’t be achieved by normal gyms, and at a fraction of the cost of a personal trainer.
6. What’s unique about your business?
The HIT Machines, which no one anywhere near our location has. They were a big investment, but they set us apart from anyone else. We have taken on the three big barriers to exercise - time, motivation/guidance, and cost - and based our business around removing those barriers.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
Right at the very beginning. We had invested in the machines and done our market research, but that was about it!
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
The funding helped us in many ways, including buying equipment, securing premises, finding our lead personal trainer Kay, developing our branding and getting our website built.
9. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
Our Virgin mentor is Ian Bush. He is a fan of high-intensity exercise, which makes him a great fit for our business, and his experience in finance and growing his own businesses means he will become an invaluable asset to us. We have spoken to him ahead of our launch and can’t wait for him to visit the studio and grow our relationship with him.
10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
We were lucky enough to work with two fantastic people on our loan and business plan. Fay Easton and Andy Parkes of StartUp Enterprise Partnership helped us develop our plan and work with Virgin to secure the loan. Both went through our business plan with a supportive but critical eye and really helped us identify weaknesses and address them.
11. Biggest achievement so far?
We have two! Signing our first member earlier this month, and also attracting customers to join us who have made the decision to start their journey to a fitter and healthier life with us, including one lady who gave up smoking to pay for her membership!
12. What’s next for your business?
We want to build a community of HITZone members and continue to develop exciting and effective sessions which get results for our clients. We also want to open a second HITZone studio by the end of 2016.
This week, The HITZone are running Hell Week - for every calorie burnt, 1p will be donated to CRY.