It's a classic problem. Everyone wants to try new sports, but membership fees to climbing gyms, Crossfit clubs, and yoga studios are high barriers to entry. Helsinki-based SportSetter launched over a year ago to help reduce this friction, providing a "try out whatever sports you like" model that gets new people into gyms and clubs, but without these businesses having to devalue their product in the way that a Groupon does.
The founders of Finland's SportSetter were the size of Godzilla in New York yesterday, getting their faces slashed across a billboard after ringing the opening bell to the NASDAQ exchange. Sportsetter has been growing steadily in New York after launching their service in Helsinki, allowing gyms, yoga studios, and other players in the Fitness space to get new customers through a network of people interested in trying new sports. After signing up through SportSetter, users select the types of activities they’re interested in, and then get access to a few curated activities a month. The value for fitness centers is that after trying out a yoga gym, for example, a user might decide they really like it and then stick around for a membership.
Niko Karstikko, cofounder of Sportsetter, came by our new office today to talk about what's been going on with their company. It turns out they're up to a lot, from new money, new pricing, new features, and international growth.
When we first covered Helsinki and NY-based Sportsetter a few months ago, it was one of those "why didn't I think about that" moments. Essentially they work with activity companies like gyms, rock climbing walls, and yoga studios to help fill up their unused inventory with people interested in trying new sports. It feels similar to a Groupon model in that sense, but rather than having these activity companies devalue their services by coupons or offers (which may cause friction with paying members and lead people to never want to pay full price), Sportsetter works with an updated subscription model where users pay €8.99 or €14.99 a month to be given access to two or four activities, which are worth more than €30 apiece on average.
Like any other business, the sports, health, and wellness sector needs new customers walking through the door all the time. But due to their hands-on nature, traditional advertising works poorly; the personality of a tennis instructor or the quality of gym equipment is tough to put in a newspaper advertisement.
So to increase more leads for their sports partners, Helsinki-based SportSetter offers something that feels a little bit like the lead generation offered by daily deals companies, but with much less of the downside for small businesses. Today they also announce that they've raised €400,000 in Angel funding.