Peter Monteza

How I've Powered Fitness Creators To Go From Minimum Wage to 6-Figures

How I've Powered Fitness Creators To Go From Minimum Wage to 6-Figures

Welcome! Tell us who you are and a quick overview of your business/brand.

My name is Peter Monteza and I’m the CEO and co-founder of MyARC. I'm half-Arab and half-Peruvian!

MyARC is a platform that enables fitness creators to provide personalised training at scale.

We’re a data company that auto-calibrates training plans to a fitness creator’s fanbase. Workouts are auto-adjusted to millions of users without the need for trainer input.

Personalised fitness becomes affordable for users and scalable for creators.

How did you come up with your concept?

Personally, fitness saved my life. I used to be obese and I struggled a lot with my physical and mental health. I tried (absolutely) everything but nothing worked — fitness was expensive, generic and unstructured. Fast forward 12 years and it’s still the same.

Creators are still selling PDFs to provide online fitness.. the same PDFs I was buying over 10 years ago when I was obese! They can’t use PT software as it caps out at 50 clients; it’s not built for scale, and creators can’t code nor afford their own app.

The infrastructure to provide personalised online fitness at scale does not exist. We wanted to provide that infrastructure.

I went from obese to a national-level athlete in the space of 2 years and what got me there was a structured personalised training plan that adapted as my body changed.

The fitness industry is messy with unstructured data. This is why almost all fitness solutions are a generic “one-size fits all” model. This is why fitness fails people.

It’s ironic because workouts fundamentally produce very standardised and structured data that is perfect for machine learning and algorithm design.

So training personalization for consumers is more than just possible. It’s inevitable.

And that’s why MyARC exists.

How did you actually launch? How were those early days?

In the early days of MyARC, we had to get whatever we had in front of creators as quickly as possible and see if their fans would pay for it, no matter how bad the product was.

Before having a more robust platform (interconnected creator and consumer app with integrated payments) we wanted active paying customers so we set up our operations accordingly.

We had regular calls with creators who had established fanbases. Before our mobile app was developed, we’d show them mock-ups of what the app would look like for their fans.

Post-mobile app release we’d show a very controlled product demo on what the product did well not what it did not have (which was a lot).

The number of things your product does badly/lacks will always outweigh the number of things your product does well/has.

This is not a bad thing, but founders often want to copy what’s out there in the market and go for width over depth. Showcase your product’s superpower and then outline the vision.

Make your customer dream with you.

We did get good signs of early traction i.e a creator made a few thousand dollars with our terrible MVP — this was really encouraging as the feedback and churn we saw really helped us iterate.

There’s no better test for your market thesis or service than to see if people will pay to use your product and continue to pay for it.

If they don’t then you can understand why.

What strategies have you used to attract customers or followers?

This will be specific to the company and business model — we’re B2BC so for us getting paying consumers i.e. distribution, was built into our product and business model.

We acquire the creator and they bring their established fanbase onto the app. Our job was to find and acquire good creators to test and launch MyARC with.

We did this mainly by a personalised outreach approach:

  • Step 1 (set up a CRM) plenty of tools out there but we just used google sheets to start with. Here we’d have: the following size, contact details, date contacted, date to follow up, engagement rates, fitness niche etc.
  • Step 2 (lead gen) — identify the right archetype of a customer from the correct channel. You can find your profile customer using relevant filters, hashtags and lookalike audience features that social media already provides. Add your target customers to the CRM/pipeline
  • Step 3 (Outreach) — the aim of this is to get a reply no matter what so it’s time to get specific, personal and creative. You can increase your outbound reply rate significantly.
  • Add visuals/materials — the more social proof the better. If you already have some notable customers, name-drop them.
  • Bonus tip — if you’re reaching out to a creator with a big following on one channel (TikTok) and they’re active on another channel (Instagram), message them on the smaller channel! They’re much more likely to see your message and reply.

Leave a digital footprint relating back to your brand i.e. “powered by ..”

Have you raised funding? What is your best advice for others?

Yes, we got investment from Techstars in April 2022 which is when the team went full-time and then we raised a SEIS round earlier this year (Feb time).

Investors have different tick marks/key things they look for so researching that particular angel or fund is very important.

Do you fall in their scope? What’s their investment thesis? Have they invested in a similar company/adjacent space? When was the last time they cut a check?

Some advice when raising capital:

  • Create an investor CRM
  • Outline their details, check range size, geography and potential connection for a warm intro
  • Add investors/people in your network to a monthly company update. Investors invest in “lines not dots”; show them the progress you are making monthly without pitching to them. It will show two key things 1- you can consistently execute and 2- what it would be like being an investor of yours. Things to include:
  • Showcase key metrics (revenue, active user base, etc..), highlights, company goals and what you are struggling with
  • Have an “Ask section”, this is a great opportunity to get a warm intro to investors. Create a shortlist of investors that you know are connected to people on your mailing list
  • Have your “data room” ready, this will save time i.e. company formation documents, cap table, presentation deck, financial model etc.

Always remember a quick no is the second best thing to a yes. Get the yes/no as quickly as possible and KEEP IT MOVING!

What has been your biggest hurdle? How have you dealt with it?

Man, where do I start...

From Day 1, it’s been an uphill battle.

Starting a business right out of university with virtually no network to rely on was challenging enough, but then came the global pandemic.

This past summer was particularly tough as I had to undergo invasive surgery for health reasons just as our Techstars accelerator ended.

I was in severe pain for weeks while trying to fundraise and onboard our first-ever hire, who we took from a competitor. I even had to onboard him from my bedroom while still wearing my hospital gear as I couldn’t wear pants yet lol.

Given our start-up’s runaway, I had to keep working to ensure our startup kept growing while trying to attract investors.

The inability to exercise for months took a huge toll on me mentally, as fitness had always been my escape and source of balance in life. Having to re-learn how to walk was not just physically painful, but mentally as well.

There were days when I broke down and felt incredibly low.

To overcome these challenges, I established a new routine that matched my limited physical capabilities and stayed consistent and disciplined with it.

Progressing slowly each day, even if it was just sitting for an extra 10 minutes without pain, gave me encouragement that things were moving in the right direction.

When times were tough, I relied on staying consistent and taking things one step at a time, which has always been my fallback approach.‍

What were you doing before this?

When I graduated with my Masters from UCL I had job offers from Accenture and other consulting firms.

However, I declined to build my first company (precursor to MyARC) which was computer vision software to track and correct a user’s weightlifting form. We had gym trials with over 7k people however Covid hit.

My co-founder Arohan at the time decided to join a software dev firm and our company pivoted into MyARC a few months/close to a year after the pandemic. Arohan got his friend Nikhil who is a talented engineer to help build MyARC part-time. Nikhil ended up becoming the third MyARC co-founder.

For 2021, I was the only full-time founder and was trying to get creators on board with a shitty web app.

We got one and it actually made him more money than when he sold PDFs. However, that product was just not usable for the majority of people, so we decided to build out the platform.

We got the attention of Techstars when I went to WebSummit in November 2021 — that’s a story for another time. After several calls, product demos and even a 4 am pitch we got into their programme.

That’s when Arohan and Nikhil decided to quit their jobs and go full-time.

The Techstars validation and funding were strong enough to help convince them (and their parents) to leave well-paying jobs. For me, it meant I could have some salary for the first time (less than what’s taxable but a huge milestone nonetheless).

What are your competitive advantages?

Fundamentally companies in our space are just another paywall for exclusive content.

When it comes to fitness and this vertical play, deeper and specific functionality is needed. This is why fitness solutions/apps fail people.

The lack of personalisation at an affordable price is why cookie-cutter workouts and plans are what’s available to the masses.

Each person should have a workout/regime that calibrates to their ability and adapts to their performance and goals bespoke to them.

The only way that is available today is via expensive trainers sitting down and making you a custom plan. With the right data sets and models, you can flip the whole industry on its head.

The infrastructure to provide personalised online fitness at scale does not exist.

Some say the fitness industry is “crowded”. We agree it is. But crowded with inadequate solutions. How else can so many players in the health and wellness space exist yet global obesity and inactivity continue to skyrocket?

Where are you today and what are you most excited about in the future?

Since the team went full-time under 12 months ago we’ve generated significant recurring revenue which we’ve done so organically without ad spend - maintaining 20% MoM growth for the past 6 months.

We’ve changed the lives of some of our first cohort of creators where one went from living on minimum wage in a council flat to making 6-figures with MyARC.

Consumers have lost 1000s of pounds and are obsessed with the product posting their personalised MyARC dashboards daily.

We’re excited about: 

  • The release of our new creator app, it’s about to become a true powerhouse for creators and we can’t wait for this to go live! By going deeper on this we can unlock the creativity and expertise of our creators and expand on the types of workouts that can be provided on the consumer app
  • Exercise classification system - can’t go into too much detail here but we’re about to get deep on user personalisation and making our consumer app become more intelligent for the end user
  • Community features - our community has really increased the weekly active use of the product and drove higher retention by providing fellow users with a supportive environment to build healthy habits.

What are your three top tips for others looking to follow in your footsteps?

  1. Network from the beginning - Unfortunately, the world of start-ups and VCs are not necessarily governed by meritocracy but rather ‘who you know.’ Getting ‘warm intros’ is how you best get in front of accelerators, VCs or angels.

    It’s the reality of it, which contributes in part to the shockingly low statistics of non-white male teams receiving venture funding. I’d network a lot more in the beginning as opposed to just being head down and focused on product and sales, which is counterintuitive.
  2. Be ruthlessly specific on your target customer and go-to-market strategy. -By not doing so, you spread yourself too thin operationally and open up a can of worms that distract you from delivering your USP.

    For example, we began launching creators from all parts of the world which meant our product needed to have some form of globalisation, which meant product development in the wrong direction.

    For example, exercise names in Spanish, can have more/fewer characters than their English counterpart which means that the UX/UI would need to adapt to this. We didn’t have the resources to build this out fully so non-English users were confused and that led to higher churn as result. Delaying our product roadmap.
  3. Build depth, not width. Don’t compete. - Don’t play catch-up with competitors. Instead, double down on your USP. Of course, there are some basic fundamentals you’ll need to add to your product that customers in your market expect as a prerequisite.

    For example, say you’re producing a car — you will need to have seatbelts, seats, a steering wheel, and so forth.

    However, you shouldn’t copy another car’s engine or braking system because you’ll have to reverse engineer how they got there and start building towards that.

    Meanwhile, your competitor is about to release V5.0 and you’ll be back to square one. It’s similar for apps/ software solutions. You can’t compete feature-for-feature because that’s a battle you’ll lose right away (competitors/incumbents have a lot more resources than you). Instead, focus on what your differentiator is — develop the things they can’t.

    You’ve spotted something they haven’t, that’s why you exist as a start-up. When you’re a small team, you are time and cash poor, so you’ll need laser focus when developing your core thesis and testing it fast. Playing catch up/ ‘competing’ prevents you from doing so.

What platforms/tools do you use behind the scenes?

  • Trello - really good for day-day tasks and outlining your key priorities for the week/month
  • Notion - we use this as our company's central hub. We outline all processes here, which helps aid discussion between technical and non-technical stakeholders 
  • Canva - as you’d expect, it’s pretty solid to make a nice pitch deck and any social media content
  • Previewed - great for smartphone/app graphics to add to websites or for the app/google play store
  • Kapwig - clean and easy to use video editing software that now does subtitles
  • Whimsical - great for illustrating potential infrastructure changes, UX changes or organisational/business changes
  • Figma - we use this for new features or UX flows etc.. helps technical and non-technical stakeholders make better decisions as you can go into more depth

What resources have helped you the most?

Honestly, the best resource you can have is speaking to your users/customers as much as possible.

Releasing and shipping quickly in an interactive cycle will teach and propel you much further than any podcast or Youtube channel. Not to say they aren’t helpful but if you’re able to learn fast from product/customer failures and come back to the market with your learnings then you’re on the right track to consistently improve.

Getting better at setting the right experiments will be governed by how well you understand your customers, their user journey, your product’s value proposition and your key metrics.

For example, we saw that a user was 3–4x more likely to convert their free trial if they completed their first workout within 48 hours thus we experimented with a user onboarding flow and it increased trial conversions.

Techstars and YC Startup School have some great free resources you can use to help guide you through the above learnings i.e. how to conduct user interviews, how to pick your KPIs, managing co-founder relationships etc.

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