The growing fitness boutique industry sees inefficiencies when there are empty spots in a workout class. Studios often have to pay the yoga teacher the same whether there are five people or 15 who attend a session.
Several startups have tried to solve this problem, by offering discounted passes to meet demand. ClassPass gained early traction with consumers, but San Francisco-based Zenrez says that they have a better business model because it focuses on the needs of studios.
And they’re announcing $6 million in Series A funding from ARTIS Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Transmedia Capital and more. We reported on their seed round last summer.
CEO Matt Capizzi told TechCrunch that what sets them apart is their “studio-centric approach.” Instead of just focusing on the best deals for consumers, Zenrez keeps the studio needs in mind, by offering the discounted classes just the night before, so that they aren’t withholding spaces for the people who paid full-price. “We’re helping studios fill their excess spots.”
Stuart Peterson, co-founder at ARTIS Ventures, said he invested because “the fitness market is huge and in desperate need for a proven yield management solution.” He believes that Zenrez has the right model and that the team “understands the nuances that have tripped up many from the outside like ClassPass and Groupon.”
But from a consumer perspective, it’s more expensive for the classes, which is why Capizzi feels this is best for “those folks who are not yet in a routine.” Zenrez lets users purchase individual classes, whereas ClassPass has class packs.
There are no membership fees, but Zenrez takes a 25% commission on every booking.
The company expects to move beyond classes and may offer discounted workshops, teacher training and private sessions. But it will all “stay under the roof of fitness,” said Capizzi.
When I look at the San Francisco offerings, it appears that there is a bit of overlap with the studios available on Zenrez and ClassPass. Competitor MoveWith also has comparable solutions, with the booking is centered around instructors.
ClassPass has experimented with its business model and raised its price points so many times that it has upset consumers. The company used to offer “unlimited” classes, but canceled this last year.
Some of these displaced users may be looking at alternative options and the investors are hoping they’ll wind up at Zenrez.