After being deceived and left with a “deep rage”, Sam Harney kept his fittech venture alive

Having started as a social fitness app, RIG was revamped by founder Sam Harney to focus on the boutique gym boom, allowing users to book the best studio spaces that independents have to offer

After being deceived and left with a “deep rage”

After RIG was launched by Sam Harney, he quickly decided to pivot what was originally built as a social fitness app to clench his fist around an area of the health and fitness market that was gaining serious mass – boutique gyms. This wouldn’t have necessarily been the case if his original app development team hadn’t let him down.

Over a year and a half ago when the service first launched, there was solid hype built around RIG ahead of an event where influencers and celebrities were set to assemble but Harney’s trust was misplaced and his dream could have been shattered before it even got going. “On the lead up to our first launch event, our agency was being pretty shady about the status of the product but confirmed they had tested it and it was looking good and on track,” Harney says. A week ahead of the event and the app still hadn’t been seen by him but the developers insisted it looked “great”. “No matter how much I demanded to see the product, it never came,” he continues. “Just two hours before the event I got sent the final product by our tech team only to find the app could just about open – 90% of what was signed off hadn’t been implemented and the core functionality wasn’t working.”

Despite the misdirection, it was a case of the show must go on for Harney who re-pitched the event as a soft concept launch on the night to ease the barrage of questions. “I remember closing up the event and driving three hours [to get] home completely broken and with a deep rage that a group of people could put me through this,” Harney recalls. He notes that it was easily the lowest part of the journey to date but refused to let that be the end of RIG, believing that he was onto something as he felt energised by the very concept. “If you’re going to give something a good go and you’ve quit your job and previous lifestyle, lost really important things along the way, then you’ll know, as long as you’ve got a clear vision, you’ll keep going,” Harney adds. “If it was easy everyone would be doing it.”

With his attention turned towards the boutique sector and RIG revised to be an aggregator for booking classes at independent studios such as Sweat by BXR and F45, Harney started to move full steam ahead once more. Explaining why the market captured his attention, he details: “The overall fitness market continues to grow at an incredible rate and there’s clear trend towards the boutique studio sector at the top end of the market. This trend is particularly present in affluent urban locations.” However, despite the lucrative potential in front of him, Harney has been keen to try and make these classes more accessible with “unbeatable prices” when booking through RIG.

With the strongest version of the app to date launched towards the tail-end of 2018, the platform is tuned up to capitalise on the new year’s rush of people looking to jump-start their health after indulgent holiday periods. “January 2019 is a big month for us,” Harney reveals. “We’ll be doing our utmost to bring new customers into our partner studios with some enticing deals and then work hard to get those users booking consistently. With our pipeline of features I believe we’ve got the right tactics to help keep people motivated on their fitness journey with RIG.”

As RIG looks to grow its customer base, millennial women are currently the platform’s bread and butter – something that also applies to the boutique fitness scene overall. “Most of our active users are 20-35 year-old females,” says Harney. “When we go to class you’ll normally see it filled with 70:30 ratio of girls to guys. We’d love to try and get more guys booking into class but at the moment we’re predominantly targeting females.”

Currently, the app is servicing partners in London but funding will be the key to unlock further scale. “We already have some of the best studios in London offering some of the craziest, toughest, coolest experiences in the city,” Harney says. “With the help of investment we also plan to strengthen RIG’s position in the UK market and help the company’s international growth too. Building a marketplace is no easy task but the ball is beginning to move and every day people are contributing those small steps that’ll soon make a big difference. I know we’ve got a good opportunity and I’m so excited to show our magic formula in the pipeline.” With that in mind, there’s nothing more left for Harney to say but ab-racadabra. 

Zen Terrelonge
Zen Terrelonge

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