Blue Apple Fitness: Jyoti Mehan

Coming from a family of small business owners, this fitness fanatic-turned entrepreneur wants to build a 'one-stop-shop’ for everything fitness

Name: Jyoti Mehan
Company Name: Blue Apple Fitness
Location: Yorkshire and the Humber
Date Launched: 01/09/17
Twitter handle: @BlueAppleFitnes
Website: blueapplefitness.com

Tell us what your business does:

In its simplest form, Blue Apple Fitness is the largest online marketplace for new and unique fitness brands – that have a great USP.

We bring together the most exciting fitness brands, some that people may not have ever even heard of, together on one site selling everything from; supplements, clothing and accessories, to snacks and food.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I’ve always been interested in fitness, and when I was a consumer in this market I found it very difficult to find all the quality products I wanted on one site.

To combat this, I wanted to create a place where it was easier to find all these amazing brands, instead of having to jump from site-to-site, solving both a supplier and customer problem.

It works for consumers as they don’t have the time to spend hours trawling the internet for new brands, and it works for new brands, as they will have access to a growing consumer base with minimal effort.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I knew there was an audience for Blue Apple Fitness because of my own personal experience and also the experience of my friends and colleagues.

The feedback I’ve received so far is that this was a website that was definitely needed in the fitness community. The range of products, from fitness equipment to supplements, helps it become a ‘one-stop-shop’ for everyone interested in fitness.

What were you doing before starting up?

I’m still working a full-time job along with running Blue Apple Fitness, so it takes a lot of dedication and organisation but it’s certainly an exciting time for me and the business!

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, running my own business is very exciting and I love that I’m building something I’m passionate about, as well as providing a solution to a problem in the fitness industry.

A lot of my family members are small business owners, and they were my main inspiration for creating my own business.

How did you raise the money?

I had to be very creative with raising the money and extremely strict with the budget.

I had some personal savings that I could invest but that wasn’t enough. I researched start-up loans and went through the application process and got accepted, which was great as they also saw the potential in the business.

However, just before I signed on the dotted line, I realised that the fees and payback period were actually more expensive than interest free credit cards I could use.

So, instead I used credit financing as a more optimal way to finance the business. It might not always be the best option for everyone, but if you can make the payments, I realised it worked out as a cheaper way of funding.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We pride ourselves on being really transparent with our business model, making it fair for our selling partners. We take a small commission per sale (10% pre-P&P and tax) and that’s it.

Going forward we plan on charging a small subscription fee but for our founding partners, our promise is to keep it this simple.

We help suppliers upload their first bulk store and then let them manage and maintain it from then on. We then do PR and marketing work, using a combination of the Blue Apple Fitness brand and our partner’s brands to really showcase the new, exciting and really unique ranges we have.

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

The biggest struggle I’ve found when setting up this business was it not going according to my plan. I’d planned everything out on a PowerPoint presentation but when it didn’t magically fall into place I was shocked, and despite all of my planning, it was never going to be plain sailing, and that in itself was a very steep learning curve.

I was a bit naive and thought if I built a website, it would work first time and people would instantly use it, despite not knowing much about it!

I very quickly realised that this wasn’t the case and had to try to get my head around some of the technical aspects of building a website, in order to speak knowledgably to developers, so we could create the website I needed.

Another aspect that I was concerned about was gaining the trust of suppliers and getting them on board, which I think is something many entrepreneurs worry about. However, once I explained what I was doing and how it would benefit them, they were extremely receptive.

I think they realised it’s something that will benefit them, especially as it’s now taking off and they’re beginning to see sales. We’re still a relatively new business but at the rate we’re growing, it’s going to be a very exciting time in the next year or so.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I think for all entrepreneurs there are a series of mini breakthroughs, and it tends to be the smaller things that really matter.

The first breakthrough was doing a series of market research that really validated the idea, then it was getting the site up and running which was more difficult than I thought it would be.

The next breakthrough was getting the first selling partners on board who really believed in us, then getting the first few sales on the site.

Now, it’s the PR we receive and working with some great influencers who love the concept of what we are doing.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Get things out there as soon as possible, don’t wait for perfection, which is a mistake I made! Also, look for free advice and information, there is so much out there you can start learning from.

You also need to outsource! Focus on what you are good at and then outsource the rest – this doesn’t need to need to be expensive, I’ve found some great tools to use – again it’s a case of looking around and researching.

But the main piece of advice that I can give budding entrepreneurs is just to keep going, if you believe your business is good enough and fixes a problem, then there’s no reason it shouldn’t work. You need to continue analysing your business; what’s happening, what needs fixing and what can you improve.

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

In five years’ time, I want to be making Blue Apple Fitness bigger and better than ever! I would like to continue working with a growing roster of unique and independent suppliers to give customers the widest possible selection of fitness products.

I also want to help as many independent brands as possible and for it to be the first-place people think of when they want to find unique brands.