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“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became the CEO of Glofox” With Conor O’Loughlin

The simpler things in life become more valuable: At times the job consumes you so much that you miss out on things that everybody else enjoys normally. And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love it, but you do miss some aspects of social and family life. That’s why, when […]

The simpler things in life become more valuable: At times the job consumes you so much that you miss out on things that everybody else enjoys normally. And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love it, but you do miss some aspects of social and family life. That’s why, when you are with your family in the evening or on a vacation or meeting up with old friends, you savor these moments more. They also keep you grounded and give you a chance to recharge outside of the hectic life of running a business.


I had the pleasure to interview Conor O’Loughlin. Conor is the CEO and Co-Founder of Glofox, a boutique fitness management software which is an intuitive and complete software to engage your members and grow your business.


Thank you so much for joining us Conor! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I played professional rugby in Ireland up until I was 28 and unfortunately I had to retire due to injury. However, I always had a real interest in technology and business and it was in my mind to get into something like that at the end of my rugby career. I tried a couple of careers on for size after my retirement but nothing really fit until I started a consultancy agency for web and app development with by business partners Anthony Kelly and Finn Hegarty.

Originally we worked with businesses across a range of different industries before a particular project changed the direction of the company and ultimately our lives. We developed an app for a high-intensity fitness studio that would allow their members to book into classes. We all realized this was a particularly under-serviced area and decided to refocus the business on providing business management software and apps for fitness studios and gyms.

We called the company Glofox and made the decision early on to focus on servicing boutique fitness studios rather than traditional gyms. We did this to differentiate us from other service providers and because we realized that boutique fitness was not just a trend in the industry, it was actually changing the way the industry operated. And I think we have been justified in making that decision in that now we are the global software provider for the fastest growing boutique fitness franchise in F45.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

I believe scaling the team from the three original co-founders was a challenge. It can be difficult to attract experienced talent at the very beginning as you have to convince them to jump ship from a secure job into a situation that can be at times chaotic. On the other hand, it’s easier to attract more hungry, albeit inexperienced talent who are eager to grow with the business.

Even if you manage to attract both types, the challenge is then to grow this team harmoniously in the hope you will establish teams in each area of the business that can ultimately accelerate your growth. Inevitably there will be hires that don’t work out and this in the case in both types of hires I have mentioned. For the experienced person, the chaotic nature of a start-up just doesn’t suit them. For the young and hungry go-getter, there may be a skillset they are lacking that you need to get to the next level.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that our best hires come from our own network and that of our team. To encourage this we run a referral program for our employees to help bring in the best talent out there.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

As I mentioned previously the team we have built here is one factor in our success. They not only are successful in achieving the goals of their individual departments but also pitching into company-wide projects. There will always be times where there is a large project to take on or a last-minute issue that requires a mix of different skill sets. A lot of the success we have had is down to our team’s ability to juggle their regular workload and these extra things that need to be done.

Another big factor in our success is that we listen to what our customers need and want from our product and this has influenced its development in a big way. We have developed a platform that is deeply ingrained with the member experience so our customers can provide the best service possible to their members.

Finally, we really try to push the idea of having one consistent voice throughout the company. This means that from the very moment the prospect encounters our marketing to when they have a product demo with our sales team and right through to when they are an established customer talking to our support team, they feel like they are talking to the same person who has the same passion about fitness and growing a successful business.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

Fill leadership roles with those who have done it before: Through trial and error, we realized the best leadership hires are those who have previously been involved with building a successful start-up from the ground up. Battling in the trenches before means they have the experience to make the right calls and foresee things you don’t.

Trust is easier said than done: This relates back to the first point in a sense. When you start a company you are involved in every aspect of the business, from double-checking what’s going out on social media to reviewing every sales call. As you hire more people and departmentalize it can be very hard to fully let go but once you do and place trust in your leaders, nine times out of ten it will work out.

You will be asking for a lot from people: In the beginning, it is never an easy ride and there will always be fires to put out. To help put them out you may need to ask people to work a bit later or even the odd weekend and it feels terrible to have to do that. However, the team we have built here is passionate about what they do and are willing to do that, without been asked in some cases. The key is to make sure that this is recognized and rewarded.

What you achieve is never enough: A good example is funding rounds. You put in so much work to secure a certain round of funding that it feels like the be-all and end-all. And once you get it you realize that it starts all over again to get the next round a year or two down the line. The same with securing your first major client. For over a year we chased our first big customer and it was the main focus of the business. Once we signed them up, a whole new market of big fitness franchises opened up as we were on their radar now. And then the process began again.

The simpler things in life become more valuable: At times the job consumes you so much that you miss out on things that everybody else enjoys normally. And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love it, but you do miss some aspects of social and family life. That’s why, when you are with your family in the evening or on a vacation or meeting up with old friends, you savor these moments more. They also keep you grounded and give you a chance to recharge outside of the hectic life of running a business.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

A good work/life balance is nearly impossible, as every busy CEO knows, but you need to work on it the same way you work on your company. Family and friends were there before you started the company and they will be there if it all comes crashing down. It’s important for your own sanity to make time for them as they are your best support network.

Inside of the company I would say the key thing to avoid burn-out is to foster a good team spirit. A culture of fear never helped anyone from top to bottom and it is important that anyone in the business can come to you. In Glofox we work hard to make sure there if someone is called out for not doing something that it’s done with respect and not in an attacking way. Having an open and respectful team spirit helps you and the rest of your team strive.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

A great piece of advice I got from an old rugby coach of mine is that a team is more than the sum of its parts. It is something that I have taken from my sports career an implemented it into my business career. At Glofox our success is based on how individuals on the team work together.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

I think both my personal and professional goals are aligned in sense and it is all about making Glofox the premier management software for gyms and fitness studios around the world. I also take pride in hiring great talent and seeing them grow with the company, so that is always an ongoing goal of mine.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I started a company from a small basement in Dublin, Ireland and grew it to a global leader in boutique fitness management software. And I want to be remembered for doing this by sticking to our company values of being one team, blazing a trail of innovation, championing our customers, acting with integrity and being accountable for our actions.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

Well, fitness is the one thing I am passionate about in both life and business. I believe it’s so beneficial for everyone, no matter what their age to engage in some form of regular exercise. It doesn’t matter if it’s walking briskly three times a week or powerlifting three times your body weight, it’s vital you get out there and do some for both your mind and body

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me here on Linkedin

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