In this week’s Founder x Breega story, we’re introducing you to Gymlib!
True to its name, Gymlib is a website and an app which gives you the liberty to choose which gym classes to attend and when. Perfect timing for those who are hoping to look buff on the beach this summer!
The idea came to them in 2013 while working as consultants at international advisory firm, Deloitte. At the beginning of the year, keen to stay fit, they had both forked out several hundred euros each on year-long gym memberships. Often out of town on consulting assignments, they realised, once the year was over, that they had only used their membership once or twice making for a very expensive couple of gym sessions!
Convinced that they weren’t the only ones paying for gym memberships they weren’t using, Sebastien and Mohamed decided to create a different kind of experience, one that allows people to choose freely between different gyms and exercise classes all over the country, so that they can workout easily wherever they happen to be. They set up partnerships with gyms and Sports centres across France and built a website. And Gymlib was officially launched at the beginning of 2014.
Gymlib provides consumers and employees with on-demand access to over 300 sports and wellness activities with over 4000 providers. You can choose from activities such as cycling, boxing, yoga or even climbing and soccer, and find the nearest available classes to you via a geolocation system.
Users pay a monthly subscription that can be suspended and reactivated at any time, meaning that if, for whatever reason, you’re unable to use your subscription for a period of time, you don’t have to pay for classes you’re not attending.
Gymlib’s concept caught on quickly. Originally a B2C company with a pay-as-you-go model, the startup decided to pivot to strengthen their client base. In 2017, they introduced the idea of commitment-free monthly subscriptions and focused on selling their service to companies looking to provide perks and promote employee health.
Sebastien, Mohamed and their late cofounder Gregoire Veron met the Breega team in 2017. The investment team saw the full potential behind the company’s new business model and in summer that year, led a 3 million euro Seed investment round accompanied by Kima. But we weren’t the only ones impressed by the young startup’s activity and traction.
Gymlib also caught the eye of leading global employee services provider, Sodexo. Wanting to continue their adventure, the founders persuaded Sodexo not to buy, but to invest in their company and they quickly raised a cool 10 million euros on top of the €3 m invested by Breega and Kima.
Gymlib’s first meeting with Breega Founding-Partner, Ben Marrel, and Partner, Isabelle Gallo was an instant success, CEO Sebastien tells us:
“We’d met a fair few investors already during our fund raising process and we knew in the first five minutes of meeting with Ben and Isabelle that there was a great fit. We wanted to work with them straight away”.
Breega’s inhouse operations team was another plus:
“Breega’s Ops team was also a convincing argument. And the operational support offered wasn’t just a promise. The HR team quickly helped us to hire two key people whilst their Head of partnerships, Olivier, helped us to structure our sales and put us in contact with key clients”.
Today, Gymlib has over 500 company clients amongst which are famous startups, Doctolib, Payfit, Qonto…international consulting firms such as Deloitte, EY and Mazars, and members of France’s CAC-40. Over 250 thousand employees in France and Belgium now benefit from their services.
If the recent Covid pandemic with its ensuing lockdowns and temporary closing of gyms and sports centers brought its own set of challenges for startup, Gymlib turned the situation to their advantage by creating new home fitness classes on their app and tweaking their business model. Sebastien says:
“If the pandemic temporarily slowed our growth it also helped us to reinforce our service with our new offers, and we adapted our business model by introducing a new credit system. Gymlib is stronger now than before Covid”.
Post lockdown, and new growth opportunities are rife with recent legislation in France exempting employee health perks from social charges. And with the favourable context provided by the up-and-coming 2024 Olympic games, Breega is pleased to say that Gymlib’s future’s looking bright. The next two years should see the startup accelerating its development in Europe. Gymlib is fighting fit and it’s all systems Go. Watch this space for further news of their progress!