In 2011, I was in the Philippines on an internship and then in Australia for an exchange term. I was frustrated at not knowing where when and how I could play a game of cricket, football or take a kickboxing class. That led me to think about PlayEnable.
This article is provided by the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The entire convenience of being able to book flights, restaurants and hotels online seemed to be completely absent in the sports and fitness booking space. When I came back to London, I found the same problem. I also found that gyms and sports facilities did a terrible job of reaching out to customers as they pass through the city.
I bounced the idea off friends, got some feedback and dropped my job hunt to focus on PlayEnable. In order to get further validation, I participated in the European Student Startup Business Plan competition and after three rounds, found myself in the finals. I didn’t win but it gave me the encouragement to keep working on the idea.
In June 2012, after two to three months of work, I launched the website as a Minimum Viable Product. I knew it would be easier to show people a basic product, even one which was clearly not perfect. I then used the active feedback from sports facilities and consumers to keep iterating and changing as much as possible quickly. The product is now in its 40th iteration.
Today, we have 160 facilities signed up and one or two per day are joining up. Around 2,000 facilities are in our target range in the London area alone.
The overall business plan hasn’t changed much. The main aim is to centralise and socialise the workout and exercise experience. With PlayEnable, you can discover all of the fitness-related organisations, gyms, yoga studios, and kick-boxing centres, in your area, browse their interactive calendar of upcoming classes and sessions, and register online to reserve your spot.
Initially, I put in £25,000 of my own money. We then raised another £25,000 through the crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Now we are in the advanced stages of talking to angel investors. At the moment we have a team of five who manage finance, sales, technology and an online marketing manager. In addition, we have an admin team in the Philippines and a technology partner in Ukraine.
It has been a great learning experience and a high-level perspective, and not just a pure focus on unnecessary details. I hope this helps me as I try to lead the business further in future.
Abhishek has an MBA from London Business School.