A Q&A with Wello co-founder and co-CEO Leslie Silverglide. The Palo Alto-based company was founded in 2011 and closed a $1 million Seed funding round in late November. Investors include Kleiner Perkins, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Aberdare Ventures and Mayo Ventures.
SUB: Please describe Wello and your value proposition.
Silverglide: Wello makes it easier to get and stay fit by connecting fitness professionals with clients over live, interactive video for convenient, accountable, effective workout sessions. Wello enables clients to easily search for, schedule and pay for workouts with Wello-vetted fitness professionals. Wello workouts can be done from home, a hotel room, office or local park. A laptop, webcam and Internet connection is all that’s required—no fitness equipment needed.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Silverglide: Wello targets people for whom the gym does not work. To us, that means three specific groups: 1) people that are looking to lose weight and don’t like working out in public; 2) busy professionals that can’t spend the time going to and from the gym; and 3) moms with younger children that need and want to workout at home.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Silverglide: Inertia. We have the large task of persuading people to try and commit to a new workout regimen.
SUB: What differentiates Wello from the competition?
Silverglide: Wello succeeds at helping people overcome that inertia to become healthier and happier. We find that our clients are able to initiate and sustain a workout program because we offer a way to get fit that is convenient, accountable and affordable.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Silverglide: Ann [co-founder Ann Scott Plante] and I started Wello when we were students at the Stanford GSB. We spent the first few months getting smart on the fitness industry, interviewing trainers, testing workout options, and meeting with potential users.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Wello? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Silverglide: While in graduate school, Ann and I tried to do the Insanity workout program with a group of friends. The experience made us realize that a customized and accountable at-home workout didn’t exist. Our ‘aha’ moment happened the first time we worked out with a trainer over live video—the experience was amazing. The trainer was naturally correcting form, tailoring the program to us and making us work harder than we ever would on our own.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Silverglide: We wanted something that was fun and conveyed wellness. It also makes for a nice greeting when you first sign-on with your trainer—‘Wello!’
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Silverglide: Breaking through the noise in the fitness industry has been our largest battle. There are tons of sites that claim to do ‘live workouts’ or be ‘online personal trainers’, but they are mostly talk.
SUB: You recently raised $1 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Silverglide: We are hiring. We are also investing in marketing and product development.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Silverglide: We launched to the public four months ago so we were able to show strong user adoption and retention.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Silverglide: Wello takes a fee on every transaction. Simple and straight-forward!
SUB: What are your goals for Wello over the next year or so?
Silverglide: We are launching group workouts in February where multiple people in different locations will be able to work out together with a Wello trainer. We are in heavy testing mode now and the groups are awesome. We will also be developing a native iPad application.
Wello – www.wello.co