Interview with Paul Gosnell
I am a self-motivated technologist who dreams big, has endless determination, and positive energy. I work hard/smart and enjoy a healthy work/life balance. A future-thinker with a clear, logical and practical approach to problem-solving and a drive to see things through to completion. I love learning from my peers and empowering my team to achieve their very best.I combine marketing, technology and sales as my service offering and understand the importance that technology plays in the world. I am hands-on in pitching to prototyping to pushing the boundaries of technology. I bring commercialism to the creative mix to ensure that what’s proposed is commercially viable and technically feasible. From launching startups through to leading global tech teams I have the experience, passion and energy to turn ideas into reality.
What's next for FIT LINK, as well as your own career?
FIT LINK is currently going through a UK Active Accelerator, called Active Lab. We are one of 11 startups of this year's cohort. Ultimately there's a winner of this that gets cash and support at the end. So it would be great to win that and that's our next goal and target. Then from there, after the accelerator, whether we win it or not, would be to continue with the organic growth and continue with B2B sales. Still, me going out prospecting and trying to land as many corporate sells as I can, supporting and helping as many companies with their workplace wellness as much as possible really, that will fund the business growth. So personally I bootstrap so any spare cash goes into that. Funding that comes from me as a consultant. I work for local SMEs and also some global corporate through agencies, and I help with that in anything from tech to digital marketing. The next steps for me I would love for FIT LINK to take off I would love for it to be a business. I can dedicate all my time to it and that would be amazing. Like I say it's a passion for me, with my head I have to work but then with my heart, I have to FIT LINK. If I could combine the two that would be the ultimate goal for me, so who knows. This year will be interesting so will continue with the organic growth and we'll see what that brings us and go from there.
Who have been the biggest partners of FIT LINK thus far? How have you gotten the word out about the platform?
The two parts of the question. Firstly who are our biggest partners? None really, so the closest thing that we have to a partner I would call our reward partners. I negotiate with them directly so they can offer a discount to our users, that's about it, everything else is done in-house. The second part, how do we get the word out? B2C, social media, the most effective channel for us is Instagram. One of the features in FIT LINK is to enable the user to upload a picture to Instagram of their activities and when they share the activity we print some important steps along the bottom of the picture, like pace, total distance and points earnt, and there's a link for website in the bottom of the picture. I do that every single time I go on a run, I go for a run every other day, and that usually gets around 70-100 likes, and about 4 to 5 downloads. Some other uses do that as well and that's a great way to get free traffic to FIT LINK.com, and that converts into an app download. In a B2B point of view, it's just traditional outbound sales. I find a prospect on LinkedIn, I follow up with them, and I try to find passionate HR people who care about their company and actually care about the well-being of their employees. I reach out to them directly, I try to make a connection with them, and I introduce them to FIT LINK. Then I try to set up a meeting with them, ideally in person, if not online. That's it, and then I go in and try and sell them FIT LINK. We’re currently bootstrapping so I don't have a big budget to spend on marketing. It's me just going out and getting the sales. Growth is really organic but it's working and it's growing.
From idea to launch, how long did it take to develop FIT LINK?
It took us a few weeks to get the first prototype. My background is in tech, I'm a developer so I was able to knock together the first mobile-friendly web version of FIT LINK and that was just for me and my friends. It's just constant reiterations that we got from the initial feedback from those early users, changing and tweaking. From the feedback, that defined the feature set, with what features are important and which ones weren't, and making sure the app solved a problem. Since then every few months we would roll out the new version, eventually, we had to have a dedicated iOS version built, which needed a dedicated iOS app developer, at that stage, there were several early-stage versions that were live in the app store. Other versions pushed out are mainly for bug fixing and adding new features. Every feature that I added I had to make sure that it was useful and that it would support things like retention. So making sure features would keep people engaged in the app, so useful features. So I would say from the initial idea to a stable app in the app store, it took anywhere from 8 to 12 months and from there It became fairly stable. We're changing things here and there, fixing bugs and changing the landscape for mobile phone screen sizes. This will constantly mean that we have to keep on updating the app.
What has been the feedback from users of FIT LINK? What are the main benefits of the platform?
From a B2C perspective, feedback is good you know. People comment on the user experience and it works well. We often get feature requests which we add to our forever growing roadmap. We really let user feedback dictate our roadmap, we build what the user wants rather than what we want internally. We have two users really. The end user is the employee who is using the app, the customer is that senior HR person/director as they are the one who is licensing and has the access to the dashboard. The feedback from them is that it's quite new, in terms of having access and visibility to the employee's health data. By having access to that data you can do two things. You can reward users for being fit, active and healthy, and encourage them to do it more. But you can also spot the gaps, for example, are people drinking enough water or not getting enough sleep? They can then push out that content via the intranet, email or if they have a dedicated wellness portal. Buy spotting the gaps and seeing what people aren't doing they can encourage to get people to do those things. Can review the data a month later and see if the there have been increases in drinking water or sleep. I call it analytics for humans or analytics for employees. It gives you the insights that you would never usually get from HR software. So the feedback is great and you can use it to get that deeper insight into a company's behaviour and you can do something proactive about it to improve it.
When did you first get the idea to incentivize office wellness and fitness programs for employees?
I got the idea to incentivise office wellness and fitness programs whilst talking about active travel. Active travel is typically the commute to work, if you walk, run, or cycle to work that is classed as active travel. I was talking to a company who was struggling to get there cycle to work scheme up and running, I had my marketing hat on, and I asked how you promoting and rewarding these people to cycle to work, and they weren't. I came up with the idea of supplying a tweaked version of FIT LINK to that particular company to say this is an app or a tool that will help you to reward people to cycle to work because with the app we can track those commutes and it's also a vehicle to use to get the message out there. That's how the conversation started with that first company. Usually, the conversation starts with active travel and then ends with full end to end workplace wellness. It doesn't have to be about active travel it could be about HIIT workouts it could be about yoga session, mindfulness it could also be about drinking enough water at work, are you staff getting enough sleep? Sleep has a massive impact on everything that we do, one of the most important things about wellness is getting enough sleep. FIT LINK tracks all of these things so it's a nice way of HR having an insight into that data. At least they know how healthy their staff are and they can do something about it. Reward people that are doing it and encourage people who aren't. This creates that healthy workplace culture.
Could you please introduce FIT LINK and what led to your founding the platform?
FIT LINK is a user app that connects to a user's Activity Tracker or wearable tech. We convert calories burnt data into points, those points rank users in leads, plus unlock rewards. When a user has enough points they can claim rewards, spend points on that reward, and the reward gets emailed to them. There are rewards in the form of a digital coupon, and they can use that reward online or in-store. Rewards are usually discount codes or money off sports-related products. The reason why I started FIT LINK is because I had a problem 18 months ago with myself and a group of friends who were training for a Tough Mudder event. We all used different Activity Tracker apps, because of that we were all completely invisible to one another, therefore I couldn't see the data, I couldn't see the pace, how far they ran. My curious mind and competitive mind wanted to know. We use to share our progress on Facebook but that annoyed non-runners on Facebook. So I searched for a solution online and I couldn't find one. My background is in tech and I've launch startups in the past, so I went ahead and made the first prototype which solved the problem for me and my friends. Since then it developed into a global business with users in over 500 cities around the world. Currently, we’re going to corporates, we go to HR people, senior people and help them reward healthy activities in the workplace. FIT LINK is a great tool to promote corporate fitness wellness strategy. We supply a dashboard to HR enabling them to get data to see how healthy their employees are. They can use that data in a practical way to promote healthy activities inside and outside of work, this helps with recruitment, retention, keeps happy staff who are more productive and it creates a happy business.