It’s been easy to gain the Covid-15 during the lockdown, and now that things are slowly opening back up, people are looking for new ways to shed the extra pounds that may have accumulated. Caliber is the fitness coaching platform that offers strength training, nutrition guidance, and a personal fitness coach that’s accessible via text and video messaging to keep you on track. By pairing Caliber members with fitness experts, Caliber solves the biggest hurdle in getting into and staying in shape – accountability. Members can choose to pay monthly or through a 3 to 6-month subscription and coaches on the platform can supplement their income that comes from training in person.
AlleyWatch caught up with Cofounder and CEO Jared Cluff to learn more about the genesis for the business, how the public’s perception of working out outside of the gym completely flipped, and the company’s recent funding round.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $2.2M for our Seed round. The round was led by Patricia Nakache at Trinity Ventures based in the Bay Area, with participation from Gaingels, based here in New York.
Tell us about the product or service that Caliber offers.
Caliber is the future of fitness coaching. We are a comprehensive, fully remote fitness coaching platform that combines a strength-based training methodology with expert human coaching to help our members achieve their fitness goals regardless of their age, experience level, or access to equipment.
Coaching takes place via the Caliber app, where our members can access their personalized training and nutrition plan, interact 1-on-1 with their coach via text and video messaging, complete their workouts and record their body stats, develop healthy habits through weekly Caliber Lessons, and monitor their progress via their Caliber Strength Metrics.
What inspired the start of Caliber?
It’s bizarre, my cofounders and I all share the same story of walking into a gym for the first time as scrawny teenagers, witnessing a bunch of red-faced, grunting dudes stomping around and glaring at each other… and immediately hightailing it out of there.
Yet despite that formative and slightly terrifying first encounter with the gym, we’ve all grown to incorporate fitness – and strength training in particular – as a foundational part of our lives. The research backs it up, too. Training for strength is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise. Recent studies have proven a link between muscle mass and lifespan and have shown that regular strength training can reduce the risk of heart disease by 80% or more. In addition to improving your cardiovascular health and your longevity, strength training can have a dramatic impact on your mood. We each can’t start our day without some form of workout, and we’re passionate about sharing the benefits of regular training to people who haven’t yet experienced these benefits firsthand.
At this stage in life for me and my cofounders, it’s not about the aesthetics of being fit, but rather about helping our members achieve their fitness goals, whether that’s losing a few pounds or dramatically transforming their lifestyle before it’s too late.
How is Caliber different?
The #1 problem in fitness is accountability. We have solved the problem of accountability by pairing our members with a real, accredited, human coach who is a stakeholder in their success.
We’ve learned through training thousands of members that people aren’t accountable to canned content or expensive fitness gizmos, which is all the rage in fitness right now. People are accountable to other people.
People stick to their plan – and see real results – when they have a dedicated coach by their side, providing guidance, motivation, and celebration every step of the way.
What market does Caliber target and how big is it?
Our target market includes anyone who wants to improve their fitness but lacks a personalized plan or a partner to hold them accountable. While we are directly targeting the existing in-person training category ($10B in the U.S. alone) we’ve been thrilled to see that we’re attracting consumers who are brand new to fitness coaching, both here in the US and abroad.
What’s your business model?
Caliber members pay for either a fixed duration plan (e.g. 3 to 6 months) or join month-to-month. Regardless, our coaches earn a percentage of revenue generated from the member, and in nearly all cases are able to generate a better income working with us than training clients in person.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
Prior to COVID, 80% of Caliber members said they preferred to work out at a gym, and 20% said they preferred to work out at home. As of March of this year, these numbers flipped, with 80% of members now saying that they prefer to work out outside of a gym.
We believe this trend is here to stay, as people have traded appointment-driven, gym-based fitness routines for whenever and wherever fitness solutions. Just as Peloton has been the beneficiary of group fitness moving into the home, we believe we will be the beneficiary of in-person training moving beyond the four walls of the local gym.
What was the funding process like?
Call me a contrarian, but I really enjoy the fundraising process. It’s rare in your life that you get to spend such intense, focused time with so many smart, curious people, all of whom share a passion for business building. During our fundraising, we were extremely fortunate to be introduced early in the process to an investor as worldly, collaborative, and supportive as Patricia Nakache at Trinity Ventures. From Day 1, Patricia saw the potential in our idea and has been a tireless advocate through the fundraising process to the present day.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We completed our raise prior to COVID and before remote work and video-based communication became the new normal. So we had to spend time getting people on board with the idea that remote coaching could not only be effective but also superior in many cases to in-person coaching. Today, post-COVID, everyone gets it, no explanation required. COVID really did accelerate 5-years of technology adoption into 5-months.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
While our investors were believers in our business from day 1, our team is what they say motivated them to write the check.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’ve been heads down for the last 12 months building our product, so with our new product recently launched, we’re excited to start building the Caliber brand while continuing to deliver a phenomenal experience for our members. While building is fun, it’s even more rewarding to be interacting with our members day to day, having an impact on their lives, and making our service better in the process. By Q1 of next year, my hope is that we’ve built a rapidly growing tribe of really happy, engaged Caliber members who are sharing their successes far and wide.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
I’ve been blown away by how attractive the current environment is for entrepreneurs with a great idea. There are a ton of investors eager to meet with you, hear your story, and back you. My advice is to get out there. Explore your network, share your story, ask for help. You’ll be surprised how many people want to support you, and you’ll be most surprised from where the best opportunities arise.
I’ve been blown away by how attractive the current environment is for entrepreneurs with a great idea. There are a ton of investors eager to meet with you, hear your story, and back you. My advice is to get out there. Explore your network, share your story, ask for help.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the near-term, we’re laser-focused on building the hands-down best fitness coaching experience that money can buy. We’ll do this by recruiting and retaining the world’s best coaches, and by delivering a world-class experience for each of our members. If we do this, Caliber will grow quickly, and we’ll be well on our way to realizing our ambition of building a category-defining consumer brand in fitness coaching.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC
Ha, I guess all restaurants are outdoors these days? I’d be remiss if I didn’t name my local haunt, El Centro in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s always a good time and you can find me there most Thursday evenings sipping a margarita with friends.
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