June 4, 2014

PPL Labs: A New Set of Tools for Fitness Pros

Eugene Mann, a business consultant... turned “Crossfitter”... turned Founder of a company, where he took a passion and has now leveraged that to help fellow crossfitters and fitness enthusiasts. 

PPL Labs has developed a suite of tools (nine to be exact) to help studio fitness professionals focus on their members by utilizing these automation tools for their web and online marketing to increase efficiency and effectiveness. As Mann puts it “we should be solving the healthcare problem through lifestyle changes.”  PPL Labs is doing that by allowing the true fitness professionals to focus more on their customers, while their new suite of tools drives more individuals through the doors.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Mann came to Boston to attend Boston University. While working as a business consultant with Boston Consulting Group Mann points to a specific moment when a colleague called him out on his weight gain. That’s when he turned to Crossfit, where not only did he get back into shape, but he realized a commercial opportunity. The gym owners were missing integral pieces to a successful business and Mann knew how to provide them. 

A lot of the owners of these gyms (and any other small/boutique business owners) don’t have previous small business experience and turn to a free tool to help them, like Wix, the free website builder. And while Mann admits Wix is a great product, it’s just a piece of the puzzle. PPL Labs is striving to be the complete puzzle – from website, to local marketing, to automation to payment processing and more.

First as a favor to his friend who owned a Crossfit gym, Mann started developing his product during his consulting days and continued through his time as a member of the founding team at Nextly. His first prototype was built two years ago. Last year he partnered up with Reebok and twenty of their Crossfit locations across the globe, who provided real-time feedback and insight on his tools, allowing him to build the better, more efficient suite he currently offers today. 

Mann finally dropped everything to focus full-time on PPL Labs at the beginning of this year when he really started gaining traction. The team is now ten people strong and consists of engineers, support and business development personnel – and they’re expanding the sales team now

While PPL is offering SaaS tools, they also provide ‘Best Practices,’ starting with the initial customer consultation where Mann and his team begin to lay out the road map for the client. Prices, he tells me. Range from $250 - $500 per month with the understanding PPL will land you two new customers in the first month (break-even for the typical Crossfit client). Their results however, are much more promising as Mann says they typically turn out 10 new customers in the first two months. 

Currently, they are serving more than 150 clients, most who prepaid for a full year, allowing Mann to run the business without any outside funding.  Mann says he is not currently seeking investment, but isn’t ruling it out either as he is exploring next steps. There are opportunities for PPL to continue offering their current set of tools to new verticals or dive deeper into the backend suite of services and expand offerings within their current space. 

Already gaining interest from bigger players in the space (undisclosed) the outlook is promising for Mann and his team, whichever direction he decides run with.  

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter: @jb_sid