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Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to 5 Million Plus: Nick Shaw, CEO of Renaissance Periodization (Part 2)

Posted on Friday, Nov 9th 2018

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to that moment in 2012 when you started RP. What did you start with? Was there an app or was it straight away online consultation?

Nick Shaw: It was just me and my buddy. We were already working with clients online and in-person. It was this idea of, “Let’s join forces.” There was no funding. It was just him and me founding it. We didn’t really have these great visions that would take off and grow into something a lot bigger. It has become that now. It was just one of those things where he and I loved health and fitness.

We would work with our close friends and family. We would do a good job with them. We would just work off referrals. That’s how it all got started. Initially, we were just writing programs for friends and family and getting referrals. This was five years ago. Social media has shifted a little bit since then.

Sramana Mitra: You were writing training routines that people would use online? Is that the delivery mechanism of your service?

Nick Shaw: It was early on. It shifted. It all falls into this idea of scalability.

Sramana Mitra: Tell me what you started with. What was in the program when you started?

Nick Shaw: We started off with writing Excel files of training and diet programs and then emailing them to clients. The clients would follow the advice. They would check in with us a couple of times a week. We would just do a really good job in making sure that we deliver results to these people. They would usually send us back before and after pictures. We would then take those pictures, put them on social media, and then we kept building from there. It was just one of the things where the snowball effect kept occurring.

Sramana Mitra: What were you charging? Was it personalized?

Nick Shaw: Everything is personalized. It was one-on-one coaching early on. Everything was highly personalized. People would have different schedules and different goals. We started with a bit more competitive athletes early on. Everything was detailed and customized to the clients. The focus was on giving them good service and getting them results above all else. The results would do the talking for us. That’s what led to lots of referrals.

Sramana Mitra: What were you charging?

Nick Shaw: Very early on, about $100 to $150 a month.

Sramana Mitra: Tell me a bit about customer acquisition. Was it all social media?

Nick Shaw: Yes, it was all social media and referrals.

Sramana Mitra: What kind of numbers are we talking?

Nick Shaw: About a hundred clients at that time between my colleague and myself, so maybe 150 to 200 in total.

Sramana Mitra: This is from 2012.

Nick Shaw: Yes, roughly.

Sramana Mitra: The next move is you added people on the delivery side.

Nick Shaw: Yes, eventually we would get enough clients where it was tough to keep up with. My colleague was doing his Ph.D. program down at ETSU and had a lot of people in the program with him who were really smart and very focused on sports. It was easy early on in terms of building the team as we just got people that he knew.

Really early on, all the coaches that we started with were clients at one time. They went through the process. They knew exactly what it took. As demand dictated, we brought on a couple of coaches. All of a sudden, the team went from just my buddy and me to heading two to three coaches.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to 5 Million Plus: Nick Shaw, CEO of Renaissance Periodization
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