by CEO and co-founder, Len Fridman
Let’s go back to the year 2009. There I was, working at Merge Healthcare, a publicly traded medical imaging software company. I’d worked there for over nine years. I started out writing software manuals, working on websites, and later managed a team of technical writers, whose work involved taking very complex materials and making it clear, concise, and simple for Radiologists and Technicians. Managing a team dedicated to writing 300+ page technical manuals documenting how to use 3D neurosurgery planning software certainly was an interesting challenge.
I had a corner office and earned a comfortable living, but there was always an ever-present voice in the back of my head telling me I was meant for more. That year, 2009, after spending nearly a decade at the company, I was let go — the appropriate name for it being “terminated.” As you can imagine, at first I was completely devastated. How was I supposed to support my family and my young daughter without a job? How was I going to make the mortgage payments? I had to make some difficult choices and quick: Was I going to go back to the typical corporate life and risk this happening again, or was I going to go out on my own? The decision turned out to be easy. As a former competitive tennis player and gym fanatic, I turned to my passion, fitness, and decided to make a business out of it.
My wife at the time and I started a local bootcamp in my neighborhood park a few times a week, and I absolutely loved it. It was so rewarding — working with people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels and watching them progress in their lives; losing weight, increasing confidence, getting fit. Some of my clients even went on to later become my instructors. I felt SO good and quickly realized that the regular 9 to 5 life was definitely not the life I wanted to lead.
I also realized early on that I needed software to help manage all my clients and my schedule. So, just like many of you, I turned to MindBody, as they were the only real option available at the time. It was my first experience with fitness software, and let me just say that I wasn’t much of a fan even from the very beginning. But, what was I to do? However flawed the software was, there was no way I was going back to spreadsheets!
We continued using MindBody as our bootcamp grew in popularity. We had multiple locations across Canada, and I began teaming up with yoga and fitness businesses across the country to promote a multi-studio pass. Think of it as a precursor to ClassPass. And boy, was it successful! It was called the MetaBody Yoga and Fitness Pass, and it’s still going strong to this day. At its peak, we had upwards of 60,000 active clients booking classes monthly across nearly 2,000 locations in 74 cities.
Our rapid growth was raising some eyebrows, especially at MindBody. By their own admission, we were their second largest account at the time. Since their API was free to use at that point, and we weren’t using them as our merchant processor, they weren’t really generating a lot of revenue from us relative to the size of our account. Though our sales team referred hundreds of businesses to their software, our own MindBody subscription rates only increased. They had never worked with an account of our size and business model, so they began creating new plans and new fees just for us. We were told our account would be shut off entirely if we weren’t able to pay the new ridiculous fees that they put in place. At one point, we were cut off from their customer support and were told that if we weren’t able to pay their new fees, they would shut us down. We were completely at their mercy. It came to a point where we were paying thousands of dollars each month, but still felt they could shut down our service at any time. With our backs to the wall, we decided that enough was enough and made the decision to build our own simplified scheduling software.
That’s when WellnessLiving was born.
I got together with my longtime friend and co-founder, Alexander, and we built a basic software and released it to our own instructors, as well as the other studios who we worked closely with for the MetaBody promotions. We quickly started getting a lot of positive feedback. Many studios using our software started coming back to us asking, “Hey, can you build this report? Do you do merchant processing? Can clients write reviews? Do you have a rewards program?” At the time, we brushed everyone off and thought, “Why would other businesses use our system when they have MindBody?”
Well, you guys were relentless and we finally succumbed to the idea that there might be something here. So, we went to a bunch of studios across the city, stood behind the front desk between 8 AM and 10 AM and watched how these businesses used MindBody and their other systems. We were completely blown away because everybody was using workarounds and had a very similar story to us: they were frustrated and wanted to leave, but felt that there was no real alternative out there.
That was our ah ha! moment. We realized then and there that what MindBody had been doing to us, they were also doing to their other customers. There was a huge opportunity to change the landscape of the industry forever and that is what we set out to do with WellnessLiving.
Collectively, each and every single one of you have brought us to where we are today. Your one loud, passionate voice demanding a platform with one login that allows you to run, manage and grow your business for one low price did not fall on deaf ears. Where other companies seem to have lost the connection with the customer, we are here to bring it back. One thing we can promise you is that here at WellnessLiving, we aren’t your typical software company. With your help, we are building the best and only all-in-one platform for health and wellness businesses in the world.
With all that being said (and I know that a lot was said), WellnessLiving is a bootstrap company. Just like your business, we are self-funded. We take great pride in knowing that we have created an incredible software company that competes at the highest level. Most importantly and what I’m most proud of, is our unwavering commitment to you, our customer.
WellnessLiving is a realization of my dream. At the same time, it is built to help you realize yours and that’s an incredible thing and something I’m very proud of. What drives us here at WellnessLiving is making sure that you are 100% satisfied and that you are using the absolute best software on the market to manage and grow your business. We realized early on that if we gave you incredible software at an affordable cost, your business would grow, you’d add additional locations, and you’d invariably spread the word about our software. This is exactly what has happened, and we’ve grown to where we are today thanks to you.
Your support and feedback has gotten us to an amazing place, and now it’s more important than ever. Saying that, next week we will be sending out our Customer Satisfaction and New Feature Survey. This year we are doing something extra special for you: We are having a draw each week for the months of June and July awarding 8 lucky winners 1 month of free WellnessLiving Professional service (valued at $199). Winners will be announced on our Facebook page weekly and all you have to do to enter is fill out the survey.
It’s certainly an exciting time and we are very happy to have you a part of the WellnessLiving family.
Committed to your success,
Co-Founder and CEO