Startup Diaries: Lessons Learned Whilst Putting Fitness on the Map

After having battled years of weight gain and weight loss, I finally felt in control of a healthy lifestyle in 2005. However, during the days of working in Marketing in the corporate world, I found myself distracted with my daily fitness routine. I wanted to make sure I was in the forefront of experiencing all the top fitness classes NYC had to offer. Soon enough, I decided to get certified in a variety of fitness modalities—which was by far one of the best decisions I ever made. Yet, it wasn’t enough.

 In 2006, I quit my job and went back to school to become a Registered Dietitian and obtain a Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. Just to be clear, this career transition was far from ‘easy,’ but somehow I woke up excited, passionate, and finally felt a vision coming to fruition. My goal of pursuing a more meaningful career was steps closer to attainment.

I was working at Cornell Presbyterian for a residency in clinical nutrition and one of my good friends, Michelle Velasquez, approached me with the concept of cataloguing New York City’s fitness options so that users could find fitness easy. I remember my frustrations during my stints volunteering as well as during my interactions with patients who were in the hospital for heart disease, diabetes and obesity – as one of their largest excuses was always, “I don’t know where to look or I don’t know how to find something near me.”  

After marinating on the initial concept from Michelle, I finally agreed on working together to build this concept.

Within 2 months, a company was born and a concept began to grow. I was still working at the hospital, getting my Master’s part-time and fleshing out FiTMAPPED. 

In March 2012, we launched a bare bones beta concept and within 2 months, we were featured in the NY Times.  FiTMAPPED launched as a fitness directory where users could search with a variety of criteria to find fitness in a convenient and simple way.  With adequate user feedback, Michelle and I decided to invest more of ourselves into the company and we funded a redesign of our website and a mobile application launch. We definitely stumbled upon a variety of obstacles including choosing the right people to help us launch our product, the best approach to marketing our product, and not having a Chief Technology Offer until late August 2012. By October 2012, our redesign as well as our mobile application for the iPhone was live.  

At the start of 2013, we’ve launched FiTMAPPED New York and Los Angeles and we’re not stopping! 

We’ve built an organic social media presence and connected with a variety of wellness brands with similar missions and key messages. We’ve created an ambassador program called FiTMAPPED FiTREPS and we’re hoping for an amazing year!

Since my journey has yet to begin, I figured I’d offer some advice to aspiring entrepreneurs (I should probably take follow my own advice):

  • When launching an idea, make sure you take time to thoroughly research the concept, the demand, the market, the business model because you will get asked those questions over and over again if you don’t have concrete answers
  • Ideally, you should believe that the product or concept exists today, and more so, you would use it
  • Imitation is a form of flattery
  • Competition validates your concept and space
  • There is never  ‘too much networking’
  • Stay true to your original concept because there will be plenty of times you will want to be swayed to change directions
  • Social media is FREE!! Use it. It’s helped us in so many ways.

Anita Mirchandani, M.S, R.D, C.D.N received a B.A. from NYU and M.S in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. After doing her internship at New York-Presbyterian hospital, Anita is a now a practicing Registered Dietitian. Her Co-Founder Michelle Velasquez received a B.A. from NYU and a J.D. magna cum laude from Seton Hall School of Law. Michelle has been a fitness enthusiast for more than 13 years. 

Founded in May 2011, FiTMAPPED is a website and free mobile app for iPhone that serves as the most extensive database ever of fitness and workout optionsin key metropolitan areas. 

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