I had the pleasure of interviewing Sammy Courtright. Sammy is the co-founder and COO of Fitspot Wellness, Inc., a workplace wellness company that brings onsite workouts, health screenings, workshops, and more to properties and companies around the country. Their mission: Make workplaces more active for more people.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I moved to the US from Australia when I was 18, graduated from the University of Miami, and moved to Los Angeles. That’s where I met my co-founder, Jon. I was running operations for a jewelry company, but wanted to put my Pilates certification and passion for wellness to work.
Jon had started NeveRest, a fitness company that paired clients with personal trainers. When we started working together, we streamlined the logistics of scheduling, pairing and requesting workouts with personal trainers. That led us to create Fitspot.
Why did you found your company?
After interviewing a ton of our wonderful clients, we learned that there was a need for wellness in the workplace. We are spending more time at work than ever before. When Fitspot started, we were offering physical wellness services (i.e. on-site group fitness classes, one-on-one personal training). However, we quickly learned that in order to engage the diverse modern workforce, we needed to take a holistic approach to wellness — which means more than just burning calories.
That led us to create workshops and programming around other topics as well, including nutrition, mental health, financial wellness, and relationships, just to name a few. Jon and I are both incredibly passionate about bringing our whole-body wellness to as many people as possible around the country.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
The B2C wellness market is crowded. From Fitbit to Lululemon, consumers are bombarded with phenomenal wellness options. However, many of those services are targeted towards individuals who are already active.
What about the other 300 million Americans who have not made wellness a priority? Where do you capture that audience?
At work. The fact that we can bring wellness options on-site to individuals who would otherwise not have access to it is pretty awesome.
At Fitspot, we’re changing the way people think about corporate wellness. Typically, when someone hears ‘‘corporate wellness,’ they immediately think ‘flu shots’ or ‘biometrics screenings’. While those services are definitely a good start, they lack the robust, holistic solutions that the modern workforce needs.
That’s why our programs cover physical, nutritional, mental and even financial wellness for a more well-rounded approach. We now bring wellness to workplaces in over 20 markets.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
We were fortunate enough to go through Techstars and the mentors that we met through that program have greatly affected what Fitspot is today. My co-founder Jon and I strive to surround ourselves with strategic mentors that not only positively affect the future of Fitspot but also our growth as leaders.
- Kathryn Petralia, the co-founder of Kabbage (and one of Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women) cares deeply about her employees and company culture. Every meeting with her challenges me to think differently about our business.
- LJ Kwak, my phenomenal leadership coach, is a godsend. We meet regularly to develop my leadership skills. At times, I am sure she feels like my therapist. But the best part is that she allows me to vent, then she gives me tangible next steps and exercises. She helps me navigate the ups and downs that come with running your own business.
- Phil Nadel, from Forefront Venture Partners is one of our investors and consistently provides strategic value, which is exactly what our business needs at this stage.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We are looking to raise a round of funding in the Fall. Our goal is to continue to grow our wellness ecosystem of on-site and virtual offerings to become the centralized hub for all things wellness inside and outside of the workplace.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?
Celebrate the small wins. At certain times, it is extremely challenging to get out of the weeds and step back to see what you have created. Celebrating the small wins shifts your perspective from the destination to the journey. We have a Slack channel dedicated to #smallwins and it makes me smile when I see notifications that clients are enjoying our wellness experiences or that a colleague crushed their qualifying call.
Hire slow, fire quick. Hiring for a startup is not easy. You have limited resources, and while there’s a potential for an awesome upside, there’s also a lot of risk — not only for the candidate but for you. It takes time, energy and resources to grow your team. After a couple of not-so-great hires who we kept longer than we should’ve, we implemented a real hiring process with an HR manager that completely transformed our team. I’ve also come to realize that not every person I hire will be with the company forever. Of course I want them to be; however, like any relationship, there are people that will serve certain roles at certain times, and then move on.
This is a marathon. I used to read ENDLESS articles about other startup success stories and ‘how to successfully run a startup.’ As a result, I started comparing our progress and placing crazy, unrealistic expectations on myself and my business. Time is an entrepreneur’s best friend and worst enemy. It took two years of my co-founder and I working our guts out to step back and realize that we have to work smart in order to make this business sustainable. We are less concerned about being a unicorn and understand at times you need to be a cockroach — ’cause cockroaches can survive anything.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?
Creating Mindful Leaders by Joe Burton is a great read. Joe is the CEO and founder of Whil, a partner of Fitspot’s, and his book deeply impacted the way I approach my development as a leader. It has encouraged me to be a more present and mindful leader. That’s not always easy, but he includes helpful exercises in each chapter that have been beneficial.
The “How I Built This with Guy Raz” podcast on NPR always puts my journey as an entrepreneur into perspective. I love listening to the stories of other entrepreneurs as they navigated this incredibly frustrating yet rewarding endeavor.
I am nearly finished with the book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. I’ve already learned so many invaluable techniques about negotiating. I am so mad I didn’t read this earlier in my career (*cue time machine*).
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would love to sit down with Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork to talk about the evolution of the workplace. Rise by We, WeWork’s wellness venture, excites me and I think we would have a lot to talk about regarding workplace wellness and the future of wellness amenities.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@sammycourtright and @fitspotwellness
Originally published at medium.com