Slavko Desik, Cofounder of Fitness Updated
Who are you?
I’m Slavko Desik, co-founder of Fitness Updated.
Fitness Updated is a SaaS platform that combines video workouts, personalized nutrition plans and custom made programs. It runs with the help of few algorithms that assign workout programs based on user preferences, and modify them on the go.
Previously I’ve worked as an affiliate marketer within the fitness industry, and I’m still co-running a niche website that deals with health and wellness, now serving as top-of-the-funnel content for our SaaS.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
Starting five years back with a niche website, my partner and I decided to write extensive reviews of workout programs, earning as affiliates. That went on for quite some time, and we managed to secure a monthly flow of over 100,000 targeted visitors. Most of that came from organic search.
Having passion for fitness and creating products, our minds quickly began mapping out possible solutions to some of the most highlighted problems that visitors had in terms of getting into shape.
The on-demand revolution has already started, and I remember being blown away by Headspace and what they did for meditation.
We wanted to create the same user friendly one-hub solution for fitness as well.
After some research and brainstorming, the idea of Fitness Updated came to life.
So we created few lead magnets throughout our niche website, building our e-mail list for the launch of Fitness Updated.
Parallel to this, I started preparing for the workouts, which meant intense daily sessions and strict diet. My partner wrote the entire code by himself (which took him the better part of 2016), and we had to learn about filming and post-production in order to create the videos. Most of the investment went into filming gear and professional voiceovers, and lot of time was spent on writing narrations, mapping sequences, and creating as well as filming recipes.
The whole preparation took one year of working full time on the project. And this is without counting the hours spent on learning editing and handling camera equipment.
We insisted on doing everything by ourselves, because it gave us more creative freedom, and a unique skill set which I believe will be very valuable as we develop Fitness Updated even more.
We launched 3 months ago, and now A/B test the platform continually.
The automated e-mail sequence, the homepage, the onboarding process… everything evolves with our understanding of how users interact with the platform.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
The biggest struggle – and this goes for every startup founder I believe – is getting enough exposure at the very beginning.
“You didn’t do your homework” people would often say.
But this is not necessarily true. Sometimes, you can build an e-mail list, create a Facebook page with thousands of fans, and still struggle for sign-ups.
A startup rarely takes off overnight. We analyzed industry leaders, and it took most of them around two years to make traction. So I guess we will have to play the long game and be patient.
The most promising investment for now seems to be content marketing, following what Hubspot did in order to grow their SaaS. Writing epic-long guides like this one on how to lose weight, we are slowly growing our organic traffic, sending more targeted leads towards our platform.
It might take a couple of months, but dozens of these will definitely generate enough traffic and exposure.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
The biggest achievement, so far, is opening our in-house affiliate program, and bringing industry folks on board.
But none of that would have been possible without improving conversion rates. We increased homepage trial sign ups by listing and describing product features on the homepage, and improved our onboarding process by walking users through the platform and changing some design elements.
Personally though, I’m far more satisfied with the feedback we are getting from users. It’s a wonderful thing to see people enjoying your product.
What’s your must read business book?
I’m a huge fan of non-fiction books, and very picky when it comes to choosing the next one.
So far, without doubt, the most memorable business book I’ve read is “Anything you Want” by Derek Sivers. If you want to simplify your life through simplifying your work, this is the book you want to read. It is surprisingly short, and goes in one sitting.
It will teach you how to start and run a successful company, while still doing what you want.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Many come to mind, to be honest, but I’d have to say Rand Fishkin.
He gave up on his CEO role two years ago, but I believe he is still the most inspiring figure within the SEO industry.
Before creating Fitness Updated we worked on ranking websites, and through learning about SEO we managed to learn a lot about web psychology, UX and sound marketing as well. Most of it thanks to Rand.
He is the only CEO that I know of, who’s been actively participating within his community, remaining super transparent throughout the years.
And can you tell us something weird or interesting about yourself?
Sure. Why not… Do you have an hour to spare?
Jokes aside, I’m just an ordinary 26 year old obsessed with the idea of creating things online. My wife would disagree though and tell you the story of how I started doing this.
I played the violin for the better part of my adult life, and switched to entrepreneurship after I realized that I enjoy the thrill of online marketing.
The internet is the biggest canvas, and you can teach yourself to draw anything you want.
Here is something interesting that might serve as an encouraging tap on the shoulder though. My partner and I never shared an office, yet managed to sell lots of affiliate products throughout the years, and build a SaaS platform that is on par with some of the industry leaders. Just the two of us. That’s it.
Feel weird while in your PJ’s? Here is a friendly advice – don’t you ever.