- June 19, 2015
Have you always wanted to go for a run along the scenic Hana Highway in Maui or hike the Appalachian Trail, but couldn't travel there?
Lakeland-based Yes.Fit is making it possible to virtually travel to these faraway places — and exercise along the way.
“No one is doing what we do,” says Scott Parker, COO of Yes.Fit. “You can interact with a cool location and track your progress. We are motivating people through fitness and people are going places they've always wanted to go.”
Yes.Fit works through a partnership with Google Maps. After logging a run or walk on your fitness device (such as the FitBit or RunKeeper) you can go to your Yes.Fit account and view on your computer the beautiful highway you traveled in Maui or the mountains you trekked through in Tennessee. Most Yes.Fit races cost $25, and when you've completed a race, a medal is mailed to you.
“You can run, walk, cycle, crawl; whatever you need to do to move,” says Parker. Yes.Fit's longest virtual race is the 117-mile Kruger National Park in South Africa and the shortest is a 20.4-mile jaunt through London — Alice's Adventure: White Rabbit.
Yes.Fit has seven employees in its Lakeland office and has outsourced its customer service with another eight people. “As a startup, we're trying to stay as lean as we can,” Parker says.
Yes.Fit has 56,000 users worldwide, with almost 16 million miles recorded in 80 countries. Company officials decline to disclose revenue figures, but say the rate of highly active users grows 40% a month.
Around 70% of Yes.Fit's clients are women, including Lakeland resident Michelle Hall, who recently underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction; however, she had to lose weight before the surgery. Yes.Fit seemed like a perfect way to accomplish a significant goal: to shed 50 pounds.
“The traditional race and the idea of a crowd was not appealing,” she says. “Yes.Fit's races are the perfect combination of safety and physical well-being and I get a cool piece of bling to show off to my family.”
Hall, who has completed 13 Yes.Fit races, believes in the concept so much she wanted to volunteer her time for the company. Instead, Parker hired her, and now she is an account executive who handles social media.
“I talk with a lot of users,” Hall says. “It's appealing to those who may not run a 5K or marathon. I think Yes.Fit will do amazing things in the future.” The company, for one, will soon partner with the American Cancer Society for a race in October to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Yes.Fit's founders next hope to move into licensing, so they can offer even more virtual experiences, expanding into movies or gaming themes. Parker hopes a mobile app the company has been developing for users will be available by the end of 2016.
Having a mentor from St. Petersburg's TEC Garage has helped Parker and his business partner Kevin Transue, CEO of Yes.Fit, navigate some of the more treacherous startup challenges. “We have someone watching up the hill and helping us plan for things,” Parker says. The Yes.Fit executives dissolved the company's board when they realized it just wasn't something that worked for them. “We are in the trenches and on the battlefield,” he adds.
Yes.Fit's Facebook page has been its primary avenue for marketing, so far, with the rest word of mouth. “We knew we built something cool,” Parker says, “and it's been received extremely well.”