Megan Smyth is the Co-Founder and CEO of GoRecess, a one-stop destination to find, book and review over 275,000 fitness classes nationwide. Megan’s background includes experience in public relations, investment banking and capital markets. Frustrated by the challenges of finding and booking a fitness class without having to search multiple websites and manage several logins, Megan left her career on Wall Street to pursue her passion for entrepreneurship and fitness to found GoRecess. She graduated with a BS in French from Georgetown and an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on GoRecess, a site that serves as a single platform connecting fitness enthusiasts looking for workouts and class options that fit their lives with gym and studio owners seeking to market their businesses, attract new customers and fill empty seats. GoRecess provides centralized access to over 275,000 classes nationwide, including yoga, pilates, barre, boxing, martial arts, Zumba, CrossFit, TRX and more, and is fully integrated with the back-end booking platforms across thousands of studios. Users can easily search classes based on workout type, schedule, location, price and ratings, create and find fitness-focused reviews, store account and payment information for seamless booking, and invite friends and find workout buddies to attend classes. Think “OpenTable for workouts”!
What was your inspiration or what problem does your company address and why does it matter?
After running my second NYC marathon, I became increasingly interested in group fitness classes to mix up my workout routine. I love the variety classes offer, the motivation of working out around others and an inspiring instructor and that they are fun! While running 60 minutes on a treadmill can often seem boring and monotonous, an hour-long class always seems to fly by and is something I look forward to. At the same time, however, I found the process of finding a workout class that fit my life – one that fit into my busy schedule, was conveniently located, matched my workout goals and interests, and wasn’t sold out – to be very frustrating and sometimes overwhelming. I would find myself constantly doing Google searches, sifting through dozens of studio schedules, scouring Yelp for reviews, trying to manage several studio-specific logins and billing details, and often ended up disappointed by being added to just another waitlist. And the more I talked to friends and colleagues, the more I realized I wasn’t the only one with this frustration. I figured if we can so easily find and book a restaurant reservation on OpenTable or find a flight on Kayak or Expedia, why can’t we do the same for workouts? So the idea for GoRecess was born – to take the work out of finding and booking a workout.
Given the explosion in the boutique fitness market, with over 100k individual studios nationwide, the demand for a single platform such as GoRecess continues to grow. In addition to simplifying the workout discovery and booking process, GoRecess also provides tracking and social features to motivate users to workout and stay on track. At the same time, GoRecess serves as a powerful, cost-effective marketing and yield management platform for small businesses such as yoga and pilates studios who don’t have the financial or human capital resources or expertise to market their businesses and be discovered by new customers and fill empty seats.
What does your typical day look like?
I wish I could say any day was typical, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. The thing I love most about doing a startup is the opportunity to work on so many different things every day and to interact with so many different types of people so nothing ever gets boring and I am constantly learning new skills. A typical day could include anything from meeting with a fitness studio or gym owner, writing a blog post, brainstorming with my team, talking with designers, negotiating a legal contract, or seeking business development opportunities.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The trend in group fitness and classes really excites me. I love that working out is becoming more social and people are now planning their workouts together like they would plan a weekend brunch. It’s much easier to stick to a fitness routine if it is fun and you have people to workout together with and help hold you accountable. Plus, with the myriad of innovative workouts on the market – everything from yoga to Zumba® to CrossFit to TRX to martial arts – I really believe there is something for everyone to enjoy so that working out doesn’t have to feel like “work”.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I can’t say there’s one “worst job” as each job I’ve been at had its unique set of ups and downs. But I learned tremendously from each experience and find the skills I have acquired invaluable to running my own business. The most important thing I’ve learned is that it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis; it’s more important to respect and enjoy the people you work with and work in an environment where you believe in the overall impact of your role and are passionate about the mission of the organization.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get feedback and don’t take it personally. I think the most important thing you can do is to constantly talk to people about your product. It’s easy to get lost in your idea when you’re working on something 24-7, but sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back and listen to what others have to say since what you think may be best may not necessarily be what your customers view as most important. At the same time, sometimes you need to balance others’ feedback and trust your gut.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Time will tell…having only launched recently, it’s probably too early to answer this one. However, I will say that what everyone says about entrepreneurship being a roller coaster is true – the constant highs and lows can be exhausting so it’s important to savor the successes, no matter how big or small they may be, to help get through the challenges and disappointments that inevitably come.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1) LinkedIn – it’s invaluable in terms of networking. Sometimes cold-calling works, but there’s nothing like a warm introduction from a personal or professional connection. I use it constantly.
2) Women2.0 – I love reading about the success stories and lessons learned from other female entrepreneurs.
3) Well + Good – in my space, it’s a great way to keep up with the hottest fitness and wellness trends.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School” by Richard Branson – it’s an inspiring read about Branson’s focus on quality, superior customer service and innovation. Branson also shares great leadership lessons about leading with empathy, giving others second chances, taking risks, and thinking outside the box.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@johnsonwhitney – love the inspiring quotes Whitney Johnson shares on entrepreneurship, women business leaders, and innovative technologies
@thederek – great posts from Derek Flanzraich, Founder of Greatist.com on startup life and making better choices
@dietsarah – Through her twitter posts, youtube channel and SarahFit.com blog, Sarah Dussault shares real-life failures and successes from her weight loss journey and motivational healthy living tips
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Watching my 5-year-old niece and 4-year old nephews finding their “Elf on the Shelf” the morning after the elves were up to a night of mischief. There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing children’s imaginations run wild.
Who is your hero?
My heroes are all of the people who have gone out of their way to lend a helping hand early on when I was making the decision to leave my job to pursue my passion, launch the business, and now growing it. Family, friends, co-founders, investors, studio owners, business partners and our loyal users – it is their support, encouragement and enthusiasm that gives me the confidence and inspiration to push ahead no matter what obstacles come in our way and they’re the ones who make all of the hard work and sacrifices worthwhile.
What’s one skill you wish you had?
I wish I knew how to code. In this day and age, I think it’s such an invaluable skill to have and it’s sometimes frustrating for me to not be able to implement some of the development myself. However, it has also taught me the importance of building a team with complementary skills, learning to delegate and leveraging your strengths.
What’s the biggest personal challenge you face?
I struggle most with managing my time. When it’s your own business, it is easy for work to be all-consuming, especially when you have a product that never “turns off”. But I have found that some of my best ideas come to me when I step away from the computer and take time to do other things – whether meeting another entrepreneur for coffee, going to a workout class, or just meeting friends for dinner. There will never be enough time in the day to accomplish everything I want to do, but sometimes taking a “break” is the most productive time you can spend – offering an additional creative outlet and keeping you passionate about your business without burning out.