Wales Grand Slam winner and WRPA member Gareth Anscombe has launched a brand new app, which is set to open up a world of workouts near you!
An anterior cruciate ligament injury, sustained in Wales’ World Cup warm up against England at Twickenham last August, has seen Anscombe sidelined for the entire 2019-20 season.
From this adversity the Kiwi born fly half has been able to channel his energies into other projects, including his new start-up company with former teammate and WRPA member Alex Cuthbert, alongside rehabilitation.
We caught up with the rugby player come businessman on the day the app officially launched to market!
Congratulations on the launch of your new business venture! Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about fitap?
The aim of fitap is to give people access to workouts and fitness activities they want to do, where they want to do them and most importantly at a price they’re looking to pay. When we first thought about how this business would grow it was really important that we met those values and that’s how we really see it working for consumers.
How did it all come about?
It started back in early 2018, my business partner Dean Jones got in touch with myself and Cuthy and approached us about this business idea. I suppose over the course of the next 12-18 months we had more meetings and decided that there was a potential gap in the market.
We were quite excited about filling that space, we thought it was a good idea. Fitness facilities sometimes lack the budget to mass-market and advertise and we saw this as a good way to help them to get new clients.
As well as focussing on physical health and fitness you provide links to mental health resources. Why was this so important to you?
We felt it was really important to have a section for mental health on the app and website. A healthy body = healthy mind. We thought it was important to highlight both aspects and feel strongly about trying to support people mentally as well. We’ve been really lucky to team up with a lot of great fitness facilities and providers as well as mental health charities.
How have you been affected by the global pandemic and lockdown?
It’s definitely presented the business with a few challenges! We were ready to launch at the start of March and then we basically just watched what unfolded in the world. Nobody could have foreseen the unfortunate circumstances that were to come.
We’ve had to adapt, grow and change the business slightly but we felt the need to launch to try and support the businesses that have had to close temporarily.
Hopefully it’s not too far away before these businesses can reopen. It will be great to be able to support them properly and get some customers to the facilities.
On the flip side it’s given us time to make sure that everything is right, ensuring that the app and website are properly user friendly.
Has time away from the game, due to injury, changed your perception and given you an opportunity to plan for the future?
With no rugby we’ve clearly got a little bit more time on our hands and with the injury I’ve been busy rehabbing that.
This has been a great focus for me to get away from the day-to-day grind if you like of rehabbing and allowed me to churn my energies into something different. It has been a great learning process for me. I’m new to the business world, although rugby is my job so to speak and still my number one passion it’s been great to be able to dive into something different and learn along the way.
What advice would you give to other players looking to start a business?
It’s really important to try and surround yourself with good people and people that you trust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m very much a novice in the business world at the moment so it was important that I asked a lot of questions and talk to a lot of people with experience.
That’s why it’s been so great to have a business partner like Dean Jones to help me along in that way. He has a background in marketing and advertising and he’s run a few companies. It’s been good to learn from him.
I think it’s really important that you research whatever it is that you’re thinking of doing. One thing I’ve learned in the business world is that things tend to take some time. You’ve got to be prepared for that. It’s never quite as fast as you would have liked!
You’re also going to come across some setbacks along the way, we certainly have! At times you evaluate and wonder whether to go on but as with anything I think if you can keep pushing ahead it will only make the business and yourself stronger.
I’d like to think we’ve learned and adapted along the way and we’ve now got an app that we’re really proud of and we’ve had some fun along the way too.
How has the WRPA and your PDM supported you along the way?
When we first thought about the business, and started to set the wheels in motion, one of the first things I did was contact Phil, my PDM at Cardiff Blues at the time. We sat down and had a coffee and spoke about a few ideas.
Since my shift to the Ospreys I’ve dealt a lot more with Tim. They’ve both been fantastic, not only with their own personal experiences, in life and in business, but also giving us some great connections to grow our network.
We’ve mainly relied on the PDMs, and the WRPA on the whole, to help with some contacts, which has really grown our network and probably saved us a few costs along the way.
How have you stayed in touch with your teammates during lockdown?
Most regions and teams will have their own little What’s App groups. I know from an Ospreys point of view ours has generally been pretty busy throughout lockdown.
Tim’s been really busy! We have this thing called Sin Bin on Friday nights, a lot of boys are jumping in on that, catching up, having a beer, taking part in a quiz and so on.
It’s really important to keep those connections going, that’s probably the thing that you miss the most. The game is one we all love to play. When you speak to most retired players the first thing they miss isn’t the physical aspect of it but the camaraderie of being in a changing room and just having a bit of craic with the boys.