From concept to product in 48 short hours

A few weeks ago the Australian Government was beginning to pull industries left, right and centre to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Unbeknownst to me, I went to the gym with a good friend and gym owner, for the last time before his gym was forced to close. We were speaking after my session about how the world was beginning to close in around us .A few days before, an article was released by the Daily Mail which demonised gyms as a ‘breeding ground’ for the virus. After the release of this article, the gym had started to get quieter. The classes that usually housed 25 people, now only saw around 4. It was only a matter of time before the fitness industry was forced to close its doors. 

After we finished that conversation, we bumped elbows and said ‘see you tomorrow’. Little did we know that less than 4 hours later, Scott Morrison would announce the government enforced closure of non-essential venues including entertainment venues, cinemas, casinos, nightclubs, indoor sporting facilities and gyms by midday on Monday. As I watched the announcement live, my heart sank. 

Fitness Australia, the peak industry body for Australia has since sadly announced that over 3,500 gyms have closed indefinitely and 20,000 individuals associated with the exercise industry have lost their jobs. With an estimated 4 million from Australia’s population an active member of a gym, this decision, although necessary, is profound. 

The fitness industry has experienced a boom over the past few years, with many Aussies identifying going to the gym, spin class, barre, pilates, yoga studio as a pivotal part of their week. But particularly during this time of uncertainty, being active is important for our mental and physical health. This is why it is so important for these facilities to be able to stay open and continue helping people. 

Knowing that a shutdown was on the way, we decided to fast forward a product that we had been working on in the background for some months. This was an online software product which allowed the fitness industry to get online within 24 hours. The only problem is, our product was months away. The level of detail and customisation we were putting into this software platform was a full time role for one of our developers and we could not put anymore into it. So we had to refocus.

Our developer who was working solely on this mystery product (I won’t release the name because we will finish development once this pandemic is not so pressing) and have them working on our new membership platform instead. A platform that was quick for us to customise and set up for each client in order to get them online as fast as possible. We were amazed at how easily it fell together and within 48 hours our platform was live, You can check this out here. 

Perhaps a nice summary to this story can be finalised by a discussion I was having with sales legend, Dr J. In 2007 to 2011, Australia experienced a devastating drought. Aussies were urged to reserve water wherever they could, guided by government messages such as taking three minute showers, no longer watering their garden and no more cleaning your car at home. Dr J focused on the car wash example, people were told to use a car wash facility instead of wasting litres of water at home cleaning their vehicles. And subsequently, once the drought was relieved, many people never went back to cleaning their cars by hand, they continued their new buyer behaviour. 

From the discussions I have been having with clients and friends in the fitness industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed their business model, it has introduced systems and processes that they will carry out of the crisis. My gym owner friend’s business is now online, he has not only been able to keep the engagement with his current members and most importantly, introduce new members from other cities and even other countries. 

The time to get online is now, you may find that it is a part of your business that you continue for years to come. Do not shut your doors, you can continue! Please, if you have any questions send me an email as I would love to hear your story.