My name is Richard Bailey and I am the CEO/Co-Founder of GrpFit, a fitness platform for the Black community. Through the use of our app, people can share their fitness journey through photos and videos, educate themselves by reading health and fitness articles, get sample workouts, and connect with others who are on a similar journey. Right before my team and I were about to launch GrpFit, we were in the process of pivoting from a previous fitness venture that failed, and we ran into some data that was mind-blowing. This data showed the magnitude of how disproportionately the Black community is affected by several health issues such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, just to name a few. We obviously knew that us as a community were suffering from these illnesses at a high rate, but seeing the numbers were eye-opening. For example, 76% of the Black community is either overweight or obese, 43% of us have hypertension, and heart disease and death by stroke are the #1 and #3 leading causes of death. When you take into consideration that there are 47 million Black people in the U.S., you’ll realize that there is a huge opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people. So, we decided to do something about it and dedicate GrpFit’s vision specifically to making the Black community a more fit and healthier one.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The two biggest hurdles were getting to a point where we were comfortable with quitting our day jobs to pursue GrpFit full-time and establishing product/market fit. When I had a full-time job, I faced a constant chicken and egg problem. The money I could of been saving was being spent on operating and growing GrpFit in its early state. However, that constantly pushed back a savings goal I wanted to have prior to pursuing my business full-time. Eventually, we started seeing some momentum, so I decided to just pick a date for when I'll quit my day job and just stuck to it.
Product/market fit was something we didn’t have or didn’t fully understand what that meant for us until a few months after we went full-time. In the beginning, most of what we were doing were based off of strong hunches or educated guesses. Eventually, that approach stopped working. We then started to conduct user interviews every week and even sent out a few email surveys. This helped us dive into the minds of who are users were - understanding their motivations, occupations, family life, fitness topics that they were mainly interested in, etc. After we analyzed the results, we started to put user personas together that made up our most active users. From that point on, we did everything for those users, from product development to marketing initiatives. This led use to establishing our product/market fit.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Currently, I am reading Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Next, I will most likely read Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. I like to go back forth between personal development and business-related books.
Other books that I read and recommend to any entrepreneur, especially product builders, are:
The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
No, not really. Fortunately, I was already working in Silicon Valley. So, a lot of my friends had their own side hustle going on or had already jumped shipped to focus on their venture full-time. My family was somewhat concerned with me surviving not having a constant source of income, but they were still very supportive. What helped in my case was that most people saw the potential in GrpFit and understood the bigger picture.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
The willingness to keep an open mind. Being open to ongoing education and being open to making changes to your product at the drop of a dime. As an entrepreneur, you have to submit to continuous learning because you will find out that there is a lot that you just don’t know. Also, you have to understand you can’t be married to a particular idea. If there’s data that suggest a particular feature, service or idea needs to be canceled, then you can’t be stubborn about it. The quicker you move, the quicker you’ll get to your next milestone or goal.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Understanding the fundraising world a little more. It is very common to not think too much about fundraising in the early stages, and rightfully so. You should be focused on development and obtaining validation that your product or service has potential. However, there are so many things that go untaught on the fundraising side of the table, and you usually have to learn these things in practice. Luckily, we have a few mentors who have been guiding us through this whole process.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Just go for it! Sooner rather than later. As you get older and more seasoned in your current profession, the easier it is to get comfortable. And when you are comfortable, you will tend to keep pushing things off. Trust me, you will rather explore an idea than live life in regret. If things don’t go well, you can always reenter the workforce.