News : “You always believe 1000% in your idea yourself. Convincing others is sometimes difficult”
The Hamburg startup pregfit, an online fitness studio for pregnant women, was founded in 2018 by Peter “Piet” König. The idea for pregfit arose when King’s wife Lena became pregnant. The movement and sports scientist as well as personal fitness trainer designed a fitness program that completely met the needs of his pregnant wife. After various tests and studies, this ultimately resulted in pregfit.
Michael Asshauer (co-founder of Familonet) and the Münster-based investment company Schweizer Invest recently invested in the very young company. “The conversion of the platform and the Corona crisis have suddenly increased sales figures and registrations. For me that was the sign that we are on the right track. I now wanted to make the most of this booster. In order to be able to scale faster, external financial help was needed, ”says König.
In an interview with deutsche-startups.de, the pregfit maker also talks about back pain, midwives and 4-week packages.
How would you explain pregfit to your grandmother?
I would tell her: I developed an exercise program for pregnant women. If you use this program you will enjoy your pregnancy fit, healthy and in a good mood. I “invented” a modern form of pregnancy gymnastics, so to speak! The pregfit program helps: to prevent back pain typical of pregnancy, to reduce water retention, i.e. that the legs and feet do not swell so much, not to gain more weight than necessary, to prepare physically and mentally positively for the birth as well as to be fit and to feel comfortable. And the best: You can use the pregfit program anywhere and whenever you want. I developed the whole thing as an online platform so that you can do the sports program on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop.
Has the concept, the business model, changed in any way since the first idea?
Yes. In fact, we have already adapted and expanded the concept a few times. For example, at the beginning there were three training days a week and only on the rest of the days there were healthy recipe suggestions that are adapted to the respective pregnancy trimester in terms of nutrients and vitamins. There is now a new workout every other day and personalized recipe suggestions every day. For the rest days, we have expanded our range to include pregnancy yoga. In the first version you also had to actively choose to continue after each exercise and after each break. Today we have automated a great many processes and functions. The training is now similar to a native app. The business model has also evolved. In the first version we had exactly one model. You could only buy a 4-week package at a time. On the one hand, that was of course extremely easy, but economically rather suboptimal. There are now three different models for one month, three months and nine months. All models run for a maximum of nine months before they automatically end. I really wanted to, because the baby is usually born after nine months. All packages include a free trial week in which you can test the entire program.
The Corona crisis recently hit the startup scene hard in some cases. How did you feel the effects?
For digital services in the health and fitness sector, the current situation is of course not the worst that could have happened. The good thing for us: We didn’t have to laboriously digitize our program, we were rather ahead of our time. We spent the first Corona wave fixing the payment system, which of course annoys me a bit in retrospect. But you learn a lot from such situations. After that we completely rebuilt the platform and now everything works as it should. Since the renovation and the crisis, we have been growing steadily and the number of registrations is increasing. I think we are definitely feeling a boost from the crisis, as people have generally become more open to digital products and offers. All “live” courses have been canceled, but the wishes and problems are still there. You have to offer alternatives now, of course. And I think we did quite well.
How did the idea for pregfit come about?
The idea for pregfit arose during my wife Lena’s pregnancy. Lena has always been athletic and wanted to stay active during her pregnancy. She looked for a suitable program – but to no avail. As I was doing my master’s degree in movement and sports science at the University of Hamburg at the time, it made sense that I simply developed the solution myself. Said and done. I developed the sports concept for Lena. This was accompanied and tested in parallel in a sports medicine seminar. Lena was so enthusiastic that suddenly pregnant friends from our circle of acquaintances also wanted to train according to the pregfit program. And so the idea was born to develop the program as an online platform and bring it to market.
How are you perceived as a man in the world of pregnant women?
That’s a good question. A fitness program for pregnant women. And that from a man? How does that fit together? At first it was actually a little weird a few times. And even now partly when I talk to people and tell them what I’m doing. Then there are questions like: “And that’s what you want to know as a man”? And then I say: yes. The funny thing: They are mostly friends who have nothing to do with this topic at all. It’s something completely different with our customers. Not once did the question arise whether I, as a man, could understand that at all, or anything like that. It’s more about training science topics or health problems. For more specific topics we also have midwives and gynecologists on our team who can then provide information.
In the past few years you have pulled up pregfit without external investors. Was that a conscious decision?
Yes. First of all, I wanted to prove the proof of concept. You yourself always believe 1000% in your idea. Convincing others of this is sometimes difficult, especially if you cannot yet back up your idea with facts, figures and data. That’s why I wanted to quickly build an MVP myself so that, in the next step, when it comes to growth, I could really step on the gas with external support.
Familonet founder Michael Asshauer and Schweizer Invest recently invested in pregfit. What spoke now for external donors?
Due to the conversion of the platform and the Corona crisis, the sales figures and registrations have suddenly risen sharply. For me that was the sign that we are on the right track. I now wanted to make the most of this booster. In order to be able to scale faster, external financial help was needed. I am super happy to have convinced the two investors. And that was easier than expected.
Now butter with the fish: How big is pregfit now?
Well, I can tell you this much: We were able to increase sales around tenfold compared to last year. I’ve built a great team of freelancers with whom I really enjoy working. You can always ‘buy in’ project-related experts quickly and remain more flexible. So I don’t have permanent employees. But there are plans to build a small, permanent team in Hamburg soon.
Where will pregfit be in a year?
My crystal clear vision is to establish pregfit as the market leader in our field. We are well on the way there. In one year I want to: be able to offer pregfit as a native app, have pregfit internationalized and achieve annual sales in the seven-digit range.
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