A year after leaving the netshoes, the entrepreneur Marcio kumruian celebrates results above those planned with the ZiYou, a subscription-based startup of fitness equipment and content that launched in early 2021. And is gearing up for the next steps: taking the startup into what he calls “the connected era of ZiYou.”
“ZiYou is doing much better than the original plan. We hit 6,300 subscribers at the end of August. The goal was to reach somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 subscriptions by the end of the year,” Kumruian told EXAM.
The startup launched by the founder of Netshoes works like a digital platform that offers equipment such as stationary bicycles and models suitable for spinning, treadmills and weight training stations by monthly plans from 149 reais, no grace period or long subscriptions required.
There are more than 30 groups of new or semi-new equipment, delivered, assembled and put to work at the customer’s address, with maintenance and the right to exchange equipment at the company’s service.
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It was not linear growth, says the entrepreneur, who sold Netshoes to Magazine Luiza (MGLU3) just over two years ago — he’s been a member of the technology and e-commerce company’s board of directors.
Between the end of March and the beginning of April, a period of restrictions on activities and movement of the population due to the second wave of the pandemic, ZiYou had a jump in demand, which tripled.
“We even installed 110 pieces of equipment in a single day. It was a logistical challenge, with 12 to 13 trucks making deliveries. This led ZiYou to develop more quickly,” he says.
With the reopening of the economy and the relaxation of restrictive measures, eventual dropouts were compensated by the incorporation of new clients.
Kumruian highlights not only the growth but also the qualitative result of the deliveries. “39% of clients said they increased their physical activity routine with ZiYou. And they were clients who were already exercising,” he says.
The number of people who practice activities four times a week jumped from 30% to 53%. “This shows that having equipment at home makes a difference.”
These are numbers that, according to him, attest that the model works and that the operation is strong and adjusted for growth.
Clube da ZiYou
The startup is preparing to enter new cities — the founder does not reveal which ones they are — between the end of this year and the beginning of 2022. Cities in the interior of the state of São Paulo, but close to the capital, are among the targets.
But the big bet is on a new generation of connected devices at affordable prices: they will be able to read customer usage data and will allow the creation of proprietary content and engagement via social media. “We will have a kind of club where subscribers can share information with each other.”
This new phase of startup should start in the first quarter of 2021, according to Kumruian. “The focus will be much more on technology and data to deliver content that makes sense to every member of the club,” he said.
The entrepreneur does not open the details, but says that the current subscription equipment, now “offline”, will be able to connect to the internet through a functionality that refers to Chromecast, the device from Google launched a few years ago that allows a Flat screen TV function as SmartTV, with internet access.
“It will be a transition in stages until we get to equipment with streaming, big screens, etc.”
Kumruian says that affordability is another premise of the new devices, given the barrier that exists for many products with wide penetration in other markets, such as the iPhone, for example.
“Brazilians don’t have to be without access to technology because of the price. We want to offer an experience close to that of Peloton”, says the founder of Netshoes, referring to the American startup that has become synonymous with bicycles for home use (the evolution of old ergometers) connected to the internet and with interactive content.
Peloton’s entry bike sells in the United States for $1,495 (about 7,800 reais in Brazil), a price that restricts access even in a higher-middle-income market like the US. “It will be equipment with a cost-benefit ratio consistent with the Brazilian reality,” stated the entrepreneur.
Lessons from the First Months
The founder of Netshoes, the first Brazilian unicorn — as startups valued at $1 billion or more are called — says that ZiYou’s first months also brought lessons, as is often the case with start-up companies.
“At the beginning, we realized when making the deliveries that some of the people didn’t know how to use the equipment, even with videos and content available to teach them,” he says.
After the discovery, the startup started to include a physical educator to accompany each delivery, with the function of adjusting the treadmill and other devices to the customers’ measurements and providing guidance for its most appropriate use.
This measure, in turn, was reflected in the improvement in customer retention rates. The educators also provide guidance on changing equipment, something that is provided for in the business model at no additional cost (except for the difference in the device itself) and which usually happens after three to four half months of use.
This applies, according to him, not only to the best use but also to what equipment is most suitable.
“If the customer is a marathon runner or is 1.85 m and wants a bicycle, the recommended device is different from that aimed at those who are starting to run or who are 1.70 m and will pedal”, exemplifies the entrepreneur, who was one of the pioneers in construction and in the application of NPS (Net Promoter Score) no country.
The level of service and quality of equipment, according to him, have become one of the levers for organic growth. The other pillar for the expansion was digital marketing actions in Google searches and social networks.
According to Kumruian, the results also exceeded expectations in the B2B model, in which potential customers are condominiums that gain access to new equipment and maintenance without having to bear fixed costs.