As Pablo Srugo, co-founder of Gymtrack, gives a short tour of their new office complete with hammocks and scooters, he recalls when they only had a table at Invest Ottawa as their office.
Sixteen months later Gymtrack has just finished a round of financing netting $2.5 million, led by White Star Capital and Real Ventures and including 500 Startups and BDC Capital.
Gymtrack is an innovative technology that uses a series of sensors to automatically track your movements and progress as you work out, allowing you to focus more on your workout without having to keep track of the details.
Their motto is “the future of fitness”, and as a voice instructs you through your headphones to slow down your lifting or correct your form, one can see the future is very close.
Srugo and co-founder Lee Silverstone have been longtime friends, and Gymtrack is not their first business. They originally started a tutoring company in university and that is where they learned their first business lessons.
“As soon as you dive into any business you’re going to learn a lot. All of a sudden you’re either doing well and you pay rent or you aren’t and you’re totally screwed,” said Srugo.
“You have to put in the hours and do everything. There’s a lot of annoying stuff too but if you have no staff you have to do it yourself.”
Gymtrack now boasts a staff of 20 who are currently working towards rolling out Gymtrack to the Algonquin Fitness Zone in April, and expanding to larger firms later in the year.
The past few months have been quite hectic for the duo. After both recently attended the 500 Startups program in Silicon Valley, Silverstone then spent the past several months living in San Francisco pitching venture capitalist firms.
“It’s a long process. Tons of meetings and maybe only one in 10 or less is on board and each meeting is at minimum an hour long. I’ve spent many nights sending cold emails, never hearing back, but at the end of the day all it really takes is perseverance and determination to believe in your company and the future you are building,” said Silverstone.
“Fundraising, like everything else in life, is full of disappointment and hardship. The ones who win out are the ones who keep pushing through it.”
While Lee pitches, Srugo keeps everything steady back in Ottawa.
“Our skills are very complimentary to each other. Lee is the more outgoing and sales oriented person, while I’m more focused on the internal stuff, like personnel processes and infrastructure.”
Srugo learned a lot about hiring while managing their tutoring company, and is trying to build a healthy culture at Gymtrack.
“It matters if you go to work and you like the people you work with and are comfortable asking them questions. You as the person hiring have to build that. The right people have to be there in a culture sense or else it hurts the team. Especially this early on when our staff is working very closely and in small teams. They need to be extremely interested and motivated.”
Srugo’s love for entrepreneurship sprung from the freedom it provides to work on something he truly enjoys, and the process of creating something concrete from what used to be drawings on a white board.
“Whether it’s simple like tutoring or more complex like what we’re doing now with Gymtrack, you get to dream something up and see it come to life,” said Srugo.