This week one year ago we received our first funding. Although it was only a relatively small amount of money, at the time it meant a lot to us. We had applied for theMIT Haalbaarheid subsidy from the Dutch government and it was granted to us.This money would turn out to be the first of several cash injections.
The MIT subsidy is for companies that want to research whether or not their (proposed) innovation is feasible, economically and/or technologically possible. The Dutch government awards the applicant €20,000 in cash to undertake research. For us it meant that we could take time off from our paid jobs, to read and absorb an enormous amount of information on the technology and experiment with it.
At the time, all three cofounders had (semi) fulltime jobs alongside our GymStory work to pay our bills. Significant workloads including overtime at our other jobs meant that we had less time to devote to GymStory. Since Mathieu needed to tackle most of the key research, we agreed he would use some of the money to pay for extra days off. We didn't realize it at the time, but it would turn out to be the first step in the team working fulltime for our own startup.
The timing of the money could not have been better for our business. Only one-and-a-half months before we received the funds, our business seemed to be in the gutter.In the beginning of 2020, we found some gyms that were interested in our product. We agreed on a cooperation agreement in which we would start testing our product in their gyms and they were willing to cover some of our costs for testing. During this time (March 2020) the fitness industry was booming: gyms were popping up everywhere, people were working out and there was a lot of opportunity. That changed with the Covid crisis: gyms closed, money dried up and contact faded. Dutch news reported that gyms might not reopen till September 2020 and so we were unsure what to do. We decided to take a small break and see how the situation would unfold.
Then theMIT funding came in. At the time, we were at our lowest point but the money from the MIT helped us to resume our work and do some quality research and experimentation. It also brought us to the next step, because it showed that the government believed in our product and importantly our team. This confidence provided a welcome boost for us but also for future investors. Several months later we got Qatar SportsTech on board, and only two weeks after that we secured Rabobank as our financial partner.
Since our lowest point, our business developed very quickly and currently it has never been in better shape. In total we received more than €200,000 of funding, we’ve been on our first ever business trip to Qatar and users have started testing and loving our prototype. Additionally, yesterday, it was confirmed that gyms will reopen tomorrow and guess who will be therewith them? GymStory!
Looking back at these last 12 months, it’s interesting to see how quick things can turn around. It all started with a little money from the government that allowed us to devote time to our own startup. That little money turned out to be a snowball picking up speed.