Playbook, a creator platform focused on fitness, raises $3 million in seed

Playbook, aiming to be the Patreon of fitness content, announced the close of a $3 million seed round from several notable angels today. The investor roster includes Giphy founder Alex Chung, StyleSeat founder Melody McCloskey, Eventbrite co-founder Renaud Visage, Seventh Generation founder John Replogle, former head of growth at Uber Ed Baker, former head of product at Uber Daniel Graf, Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover, Bird head of growth Brendan O’Driscoll and Uphonest Capital.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, the fitness space has gone through a transformation. Peloton has surged, ClassPass has pseudo-pivoted and traditional gyms have struggled to find their groove in this new world.

Playbook looked to these fitness ventures, as well as broader entertainment communities, to model its business. The company offers consumers an unlimited subscription for either $15/month or $99/year to consume as much fitness content as they’d like.

Playbook isn’t really built with a focus on the end user, but rather starts from the premise of giving creators the tools they need to foster their own community of users. The startup focuses the vast majority of its energy on offering creators a space where they can create and monetize their content on their own terms.

The startup, co-founded by Jeff Krahel, Michael Wojcieszek and Kasper Odegaard, takes a 20% cut of customer fees, with the rest going to creators in two different forms. The first is based on the creator’s own community that they bring to the platform via a custom link, in which case the creator owns the economics there. This means that, even if a user wanders from their original creator on the platform to another, the original creator still gets an 80% cut from that user. For users that are brought on to the platform by Playbook, and then select a creator’s content, Playbook pays out the creator based on seconds watched.

“Our focus is really on the creator and their community,” said Krahel. “Consumers don’t switch between creators very much. In fact, less than 50% of consumers switch. They’re often very dedicated to their creator. So we look at this more as a Patreon in terms of the business, where we want to give the best tools to the creator who is going to deeply engage with their community and monetize their content and social distribution.”

Interestingly, Playbook isn’t just focused on getting fit. The app, with more than 150 trainers on the platform, also has content around sports training, whether it be for conditioning or working on technique within various sports.

The company has locked in some high-powered creators, including Magnus Lygdback, trainer to Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck; Don Saladino, trainer to Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively; Boss Everline, trainer to Kevin Hart; Hannah Bower, trainer and well-known fit-mom; and yoga and meditation influencer Morgan Tyler.

Playbook says it has a waitlist of several thousand creators that want onto its platform. The company looks for a few things when onboarding a new creator, namely an existing community of followers (on Instagram or YouTube or wherever) and an existing library of content. That’s not to say that new trainers can’t join the platform, but these are two signals that could help close the deal.

Playbook says it’s seeing 140% new creator account growth in 2020.

Playbook also offers an onboarding guide for creators, similar to the Etsy Seller Handbook, to offer a variety of example videos, best practices and other tactics for success.

Of existing creators, women make up 60% of the pool and 15% of creators are people of color. Internally, around a quarter of employees for Playbook are women.