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Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to 5 Million Plus: Nick Shaw, CEO of Renaissance Periodization (Part 4)

Posted on Sunday, Nov 11th 2018

Sramana Mitra: It sounds like you’ve created more of a content business.

Nick Shaw: Yes. I would say we’re in the education business. We give people the education on what they need to eat, when, and how much.

Sramana Mitra: An online learning kind of program. What’s the form factor of how you distribute this?

Nick Shaw: Early on, it was all Excel files. We recently changed it to PDF format. It was originally all on email. We’ve since changed. Now it’s all downloadable right on our website. A person orders, and within a few minutes, they’re able to get their files. It’s right in their account. 

Sramana Mitra: It’s online learning but it’s Excel files that is the learning material. Is that what you’re saying?

Nick Shaw: Yes, Excel and PDF.

Sramana Mitra: The online learning industry has gone in many different directions. If you look at Lynda for example which LinkedIn acquired, they do videos. There’re all kinds of different formats. We, in One Million by One Million, do content. You’re saying that your form factor is email-based. You’re sending people out emails. In those emails are Excel files and PDF files. Is that a good summary of what you said?

Nick Shaw: Yes. The beauty of it is, it’s personalized based on a few different variables. It’s not just sending the same diet to 10,000 people. Those people get slightly different diets customized based on how they fill out questions on the website.

Sramana Mitra: There is personalization involved. Tell me how you do this personalization.

Nick Shaw: All the products are built by my colleague. He has a Ph.D. in Sports Physiology. The beauty of our business model is, I run the business side of things. He’s in charge of content and product creation. It allows the people who are Ph.D.’s in the various fields of nutrition and sports physiology to create everything. I get to do the marketing.

Something else I think we should talk a little bit about is the automation impact that we have. After the original creation of files, I was manually sending them. I quickly realized that this just wasn’t a very effective use of time. That’s when we looked into email automation. When we started automating things, the business was able to grow a lot faster. Instead of me spending time sending these files manually, we were able to automate the process and have a lot more time to devote to business development or social media.

Sramana Mitra: Ours is a technology entrepreneurship community. What’s of interest to this community is understanding the scalability points. We’re not looking to really understand the pure technical part of it, but we do need to understand what kind of personalization goes on behind the scenes. Let’s say somebody comes in. What is the flow?

Nick Shaw: They come to the website. On the diet template page, it’s going to ask them a few questions. It’s going to ask their gender. It’s going to ask their bodyweight. That’s usually in a range of about 100 to 300 pounds. They enter their weight there. It’s going to ask their goal whether they want to lose or gain weight. Based on those variables, they have to accept the waiver upfront.

We state that the template is not for everybody. If you have medical conditions or special cases, that’s going to require a one-on-one coach. Based on those variables, it customizes the program behind the scenes with our technology. Shortly after the order is made, the user logs into their account, downloads their files, and it’s theirs, essentially forever. They can use it on their mobile device. They can use it on their computer or tablet. They can take that and put in on their fridge.

Sramana Mitra: You created a software personalization engine behind the scene. You don’t really need human beings to scale that anymore.

Nick Shaw: Yes.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to 5 Million Plus: Nick Shaw, CEO of Renaissance Periodization
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