Co-founded by Leon Lee and Alex Chung, Stryde is a fitness betting platform which was recently soft-launched on iOS App store. Its remarkable features help users create achievable fitness goals by encouraging them to share their fitness journey with one another, and motivating others by believing or doubting each other’s goals. The fitness duo strongly believes in the magic combination of accountability, motivation, and efficiency, which helps users achieve fitness goals more effortlessly. Even though the fitness industry is witnessing burgeoning competition, Leon and Alex don’t see their counterparts as competitors. Rather, they treat them as a reminder of always putting your best foot forward, and as a motivation to constantly improve/promote the core values of Stryde – make people “feel motivated to achieve fitness goals”.
We have Leon and Alex share with us their marketing strategies of attracting more users to the platform; how they deal with constant pressure from personal and work life as start-up entrepreneurs; and their tips for maintaining a productive and energetic workplace ambience at Stryde.
What’s your work schedule like?
Alex: Between the two of us, I’m in charge of most of the marketing, the content, the website, and a lot of the CRM at Stryde. So, Leon keeps us together because he needs to make sure that developers deliver what our vision is. But I think we cross over a lot now. Sometimes, he does a lot of marketing stuff; sometimes, I’ll jump in for the user interface and user experience stuff.
Any given day, we can be doing meetings with our current investor, potential partners, or whatever kind of fire that needs to put out. Right now, we’re dealing with a crisis and probably deal with another one next week. (Laughs)
Leon: We are trying our best to have a proper meeting whenever we could, even though those times may sometimes vary. But like Alex said, our works are indeed overlapping at this point. For example, he was having a really long call with our developers about this algorithm that we need to change, whereas I was looking into fundraising, which you could argue is also marketing.
What’s your marketing strategies in terms of bringing more users to your platform?
Alex: Initially, we thought of doing traditional marketing strategies such as reaching out to the local gym. But then, we came up with this marketing approach instead– influencer marketing strategy.
We started reaching out to nano-influencers in Hong Kong. They’re not really, really popular, or have a big following, but they’re quite well known within the local fitness industry. We have already signed on five influencers with a range of different athletes, such as competitors for body building, cage fighters, power lifters, etc. Ever since we developed a great relationship with them, they started opening the doors to other people in the same industry.
So, we want them to do three main things for us; number one is, product refinement – use our app as frequent as possible. That way, it accomplishes two things: firstly it gives us feedback on how our product is, because they fit perfectly with our target user. Secondly, we want them to share their review on their social media platform. It can help bring awareness to our brand with their following. Lastly, virality. With their combined following, we can gain a lot of exposure very quickly to people in the fitness industry.
“In a sense, a good product leads to word of mouth, which might be the biggest viral factor when it comes to marketing.”
Leon: One thing I learned from other companies is, a good product is also marketing. In our case, there are what people call ‘dopamine targets’ – that is, if you feel good about it, you feel the need to share with other people. For example, , you might have come across a new playlist on Spotify that you really like, and you want to share it with your friends through social media. In a sense, a good product leads to word of mouth, which might be the biggest viral factor when it comes to marketing.
How to encourage your users to share their experience on social media platform?
Leon: As a gamified fitness goal betting platform, it is all about reaching your fitness goals and getting recognized/ rewarded for it. Every step along the way – such as reaching a milestone, people having bet on you, and earning a prize -should make you want to share the news with other people and be like, “Oh. Check this out; I’ve just made a new goal.”
Alex: Show off a little bit, basically – letting people know about the things you’ve accomplished. We ensure that our users are able to share every step of their fitness journey.
What’s your plan on boosting brand stickiness?
Alex: I think it’s about getting and addressing feedback from users as well as our focus group, and just pivoting and making iterations whilst keeping our core value in tact– being accountable to your fitness goal.
Leon: Let me highlight one important thing. Don’t love your product too much, and listen a lot to your customers.
A lot of people love their products blindly, like “This is my baby and if you don’t like it, that’s because you’re not our target customer.” In reality, you need to listen to what people like and don’t like.
Alex: Initially, we had an idea of splitting our users at Stryde into teams and we actually put this to test as well. We brought a group of our friends to the gym and did a live simulation. We split everybody into two teams, each picked one exercise – bench press and push-ups; whichever team accumulates the highest score wins the prize. Everybody logged their score on day one and did their best to get more points. The feedback we got was that people really enjoyed the fact that they were held accountable because they had to improve the points. However, they didn’t really care much about the team aspect. So, we removed the team concept and made it a very individual fitness goal-oriented app.
Have you had a breakdown because of stress or work overload?
Alex: There was a point where I did feel a burnout, where I was on my crazy schedule – Two jobs, spending a certain amount of time with my family and my long-term girlfriend. And on top of that, I had to squeeze in six days of working out throughout the week. And, that was the point where I feel like I was going crazy. I couldn’t really sleep very well. I was really moody. I think that was my first burnout.
I still remember there was just a point where I’d just come in and Leon would suggest A, B, and C, and I’d be, “No, screw that, no way, it’s a horrible idea.” I mean, we’re not always bro like this. Sometimes, we do have heated conversation over Stryde. But when I look back at those times, it was definitely me putting too much in my stress jar.
Leon: Definitely. Definitely. I’ve also been through a burnout before. There’s a period when I was really stressed about trading bitcoin, mainly because the stock market never closes and I literally had my phone turned on during the night when I was sleeping. I would wake up every hour to check my phone and see if I was profiting or losing money. I had this consistent anxiety that lasted two to three months, after which I quit because it was affecting every aspect of my life – Stryde, my training, my relationships with friends and family.
What do you do when you feel a burnout?
Alex: After the burnout, I took a break and went to Europe for some time to reflect. What I’ve learned is this: there’re only two things I can control, my training and my diet. I used to hit really heavy weights as a way to deal with stress, but it’s not good for me, because that’s like adding an extra layer of physical stress on my nervous system. Now, I will just taper off, relax a little bit, and let out on my gym workouts. So, if Stryde is stressing me out today, I would keep it cool and remain calm.
Leon: There’s this concept that I’ve learnt from a book called ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport, which talks about if you segment your day into 20-minute intervals and do 10 things, you’re going to feel more stressed and are unlikely to be productive. Rather, you should segment your day into bigger chunks and just do one thing at a time. You might want to take breaks, and separate your time clearly. I wouldn’t want to do Stryde and suddenly reply an email for my second job, then the next thing – watching a fitness video on YouTube. Now, that’s going to be a total disaster.
How important do you think of taking breaks?
Alex: If things are too intense or difficult, you do get anxious and won’t be in the state of performing well, so you would have to taper that down.
Taking a break may feel like wasting time. But it all depends on what you choose to do during your break. I like to go on YouTube and watch something fitness related videos, where I might even get some inspiration for our products.
Leon: For me, I like to do what you might call “tech detox”. Basically, it’s shutting down mobile phones, and going on camping trips to appreciate the nature. I also like to go fishing or go to the park and do short jogs. I think those are the real breaks, where I’m able to take my mind off of my mobile phone.
What’s your simple way to master self-discipline?
Alex: It sounds really cheesy, but I think I’m very fortunate to have Leon as a partner at Stryde. We have tasks that we assign to each other over the course of a single week. It’s one of those things where I don’t want to let myself down, and be embarrassed for not accomplishing all my tasks. I like to surround myself with people that help me achieve more and be more disciplined.
Leon: Personally, one big part of my self-discipline comes from the gym. I work out five times a week, which scares a lot of people. But for me, it has become a lifestyle. I think the main reason behind it is because I am able to see a linear progression and I enjoy what I’m doing. I set short-term and long-term goals for myself, so basically it is being accountable and motivated, which is the whole idea behind Stryde.
How do you stay productive at work?
Leon: We work as a team and so we need to make sure everyone is being productive. We do our work with a sprint. In the tech world, it’s call Scrum. Every week, we set mini tasks for everyone. Each task has a score that correlates with the time it takes to finish. We also have this board online where there are the to-do-lists – Doing, To Review, and Done lists.
At the end of the sprint, we look at how many points you’ve completed, versus how many points you had planned. This allows us to know everyone’s productivity level. How you finish those tasks is your own style and preference. But this way also helps everyone on the team and stay on track.
“We want to increase that efficiency by making sure you’re doing more work with the same amount of time.”
Alex: Sometimes, you kind of lose track of what you need to do. So, by dividing work on a weekly basis, we focus on solving one major problem at a time. Once that’s done, we can then move onto the next one. That way, it’s like your eye is on the price, and you’re not going to feel so overwhelmed.
Leon: There’s this thing we call efficiency coefficient. It’s the amount of time when you’re actually being productive, versus the amount of time you’re working. You could be studying for five hours, but actually do just two hours of work. So that’s an efficiency of 40%.
We want to increase that efficiency by making sure you’re doing more work with the same amount of time. Maybe you should reflect on why you’ve had such a low percentage of accomplishment that day. Did you put in 10 hours, but happen to doze off or be slow and distracted?
How do you motivate yourself to work when you are not really in the mood?
Leon: I think it’s more like a momentum of getting things done. When you’re not in the mood, it might be because there’s too much stuff planned and you feel like there’s a big barrier to actually get into and start actually churning out that work.
It’s like accomplishing mini victories. It could be something as small as tidying up your room, making your bed, or just fetching yourself a nice breakfast. You feel a small sense of victory checking these things off your to-do list. And once you have that momentum going, you’ll feel motivated throughout the day.
Alex: For me it’s a bit more basic. I literally just take five minutes, step back, and reflect on myself, why am I doing this? What made me do this in the first place? Why am I hustling so hard to run a company?
The why, especially for Stryde, is what I want to share this really awesome fitness concept with the world. And that alone usually gets things going. No matter how difficult it seems to get out of bed or go from the gym to the office, I kind of know that when I arrive, it’s going to be okay.
Leon: Showing up is half the battle.
What are your ways to boost your energy at work?
Alex: Coffee. I usually have three cups before teaching sessions in the morning. When I get to the office, I try to stop consuming coffee after 4, so I’ll probably squeeze in one or two cups from 12 to 4.
Leon: I think nothing beats good sleep. A lot of people say, “I only sleep four hours because I’ve got so much stuff to do,” like the classic hustler story. I don’t think that’s true because if you only sleep four hours a day, you can’t do good work. There’s no way around it.
You can look heroic in other people’s eyes, but you just have to sleep more to get that energy. We at Stryde support good health. Don’t take too much coffee. Sleep adequately. Don’t be like Alex. (Laughs)
What are the essential things to keep you Zen at work?
Alex: In general, I try to meditate either at the beginning of the day or the last thing I do for the day. When I wake up the next day, I’ll be in a good space in my head.
Leon: I think planning would be the word. I want to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing. I tend to feel a lot more at peace when I am able to plan out my day. So, I will plan out the day early in the morning, like my to-do list, including the thing that I have to accomplish. Sometimes, there will be extra details as well, like I’ll put in the time it takes to complete them.