Alba Fitness: Gavin Bell

The fitness start-up's founder on the importance of having a mentor and how a change of location drove his business forward

Name: Gavin Bell
Company name: Alba Fitness 
Location: Scotland
Date launched: 20/01/15
Website: www.albafitness.com

Tell us what your business does:

Alba Fitness is a corporate wellbeing company. We deliver health and wellbeing related programmes to companies. This could be anything from employee fitness classes to massage therapy or stress management workshops.

Wellbeing programmes, like the ones we offer are becoming more and more important as employers recognise the importance of happy staff.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

In the UK, 62% of adults are either overweight or obese. This frightening figure is maybe not so surprising when you combine it with the fact that 80% of adults do not exercise enough.

I’ve decided I wanted to try and combat this in order to make the UK a healthier and happier place.

How did you know there was a market for it?

The market in the USA is huge. They have a real understanding of how important it is to take care of their staff.

I noticed that a lot more companies over here were starting to offer corporate fitness services. The market size is definitely growing and so I’ve started with the aim to target it early and become a established leader.

What were you doing before starting up?

Before starting the business, I studied in Manchester at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. I was there for a year and had an amazing experience. I graduated in 2013, winning Entrepreneur of the Year.

How did you raise the money?

I’ve not needed any capital to start the business as I don’t really have any overheads. I work from home too which saves on a lot of money.

I did, however, win a grant of £750 from the EDGE challenge which is a competition for young entrepreneurs. I had to pitch twice to receive that. The money was mostly used for marketing and cashflow purposes.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We operate with a lot of service providers. So I have a team of around 15 currently that provide a range of different services. I then go out to companies and find out what sort of problems they have so I can tailor our service to the client. If they require fitness classes, for example, I will get one of my providers to go in and run the session. The company pays me and I pay the service provider.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The market is still relatively young so I’ve had to educate people on the importance of corporate health and wellbeing before making any sales.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I think my first big breakthrough came when I moved to Edinburgh. I had run a few sessions in Manchester but never really got the business going. As soon as I got to Edinburgh it was a case of all guns blazing!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

People are willing to help you. If you need to know something, just ask as getting someone to mentor you can be invaluable!

Also, keep up momentum. It’s very easy to get stuck in a routine of doing nothing. But if you get a meeting, for example, use the confidence and energy to push you on to getting another one. Keeping up momentum is key!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years time, I wish to be the leading corporate wellbeing company in Scotland, if not the UK. I’m so passionate about what I do and I genuinely want to see a change in the health of this country.

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