Viva la Vita: Styliana Vasili and Kostas Aristotelous

The fitness app co-founders talk crowdfunding success, the thrill of quitting the corporate world and their ambition to get London to embrace fitness

Name: Styliana Vasili and Kostas Aristotelous
Company name: Viva la Vita
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 08/08/2014
Website: www.vivalavita.com

Tell us what your business does:

Viva la Vita is an app (available on the AppStore) that offers a curated list of quirky fitness classes and activities available at short notice. The app features between 10 and 20 classes at any given time, pulling on a handpicked shortlist of the best sessions happening that week across London. You can pay directly in-app and show the voucher given from your screen to the instructor when you show up!

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The idea was born from a common dislike for running aimlessly in the wet streets of London and both having gym memberships that we had only used once – that one time being the day that we had signed up. But when we started looking for some alternatives to the gym for fitness inspiration, we found was that all the information was fragmented. We took to the AppStore for some ‘fitspiration’ and the AppStore was also mute on the matter, so we created an app that helps to discover (and book!) the best of the capital’s alternative fitness classes and activities when you get the urge to get moving. We created the app first and foremost, to serve our own needs.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We offered friends (we ensured these were the laziest of them all!) the opportunity to attend the alternative fitness classes we had found. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands and attended on the same day! This showed us that the reason people weren’t exercising was because traditional gyms were not only dull and boring, but that classes and activities in London were not easily accessible in one place!

What were you doing before starting up?

We were working in law and finance sectors. When we decided we were going to build and launch Viva la Vita, we literally quit our jobs the following week and we haven’t regretted it one bit!

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

We’ve never enjoyed working in a rigid corporate environment and always knew we would some day start our own business! We would always throw around ideas but Viva la Vita was the one that we felt was really worth pursuing.

How did you raise the money?

The first money raised was through a Start Up Loan – thanks George Osbourne! We built our MVP and then crowdfunded through Seedrs and raised almost £35,000 – which was used to launch the app!

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Simple; we take a commission from each booking made through the app.

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

Our main challenge was our lack of tech experience. So what we did (after a lot of trial and error!) was hire someone really talented to oversee and deal with the tech side of the business.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Definitely raising capital through our crowdfunding campaign. Viva la Vita would not have made it to market otherwise.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

I think we are also classed as ‘budding’ entrepreneurs, but the best piece of advice we can offer is to embrace failing every day. As long as you’re failing in the right direction you’re on the right track!

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

We would like Viva la Vita to have a foothold in every major city in the world. Fitness has no boundaries, everybody wants to exercise more, they just need someone to do their homework for them.

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