Karly Pavlinac, a 2017 North Carolina State University graduate, is turning a frustration with step-by-step fitness instructions into a startup – WAAM, an app that provides top fitness trainers a toolbox for monetizing their fan base.
WAAM stands for “We Are A Movement,” she said. “What we’re doing is creating a community of encouragement around fitness – the movements and workouts from your top trainer. All workout types and styles, including ballet, football agility, strength training, CrossFit and adaptive. You can log in and hear what they have to say, how they start their day, how they get inspired,” she said.
“We really want this to be a platform where you can log in, work with those top trainers, and feel like there’s something there for you, whether you’re a beginner or really advanced,” she said.
Pavlinac came up with the idea in the summer of 2017, just prior to her last semester at NC State. She was living on a farm in Hawaii and working part-time with a design firm as an architectural project design intern. With the other half of her time, she was a stand up Paddleboard Yoga instructor, teaching clients how to take their yoga routines to the water .
It was while in yoga teacher training, in preparation for her summer in Hawaii, that Pavlinac became frustrated – and decided to create a solution.
“I was getting the instructions – put your leg here, your arm there – and writing those down,” she said, but when reviewing her notes, she discovered the written instructions were not clear. “If I had a video library (showing the routines and instructions), I could go back and make that into a class,” she said.
“That’s how the idea was born, and that’s how it functions, with video demos, a timer and reps, so you can follow along,” she said. “Trainers can shoot (the video) or we shoot it for them. They can keep that library and continue to make more classes – and make their lives easier.”
As an industrial and product design student in NC State’s College of Design, Pavlinac knew the steps to developing the solution to her frustration. As a business student – which included a semester studying accounting and finance at the EBS Business School in Reutlingen, Germany, an NC State Poole College global academic programs partner – she had a foundation in business processes, including how to monetize an idea.
While finishing her last semester at NC State, Pavlinac said she found herself in class, thinking about her business concept –“okay, am I actually going to do this? So I went out and figured out how to do it,” she said.
The ‘how to’ included a few tough lessons. One came from losing a startup loan to an app development team that took the money but did not deliver. She then sent an email message to NC State computer science majors, seeking a developer for her app. “I found somebody, and that’s when I realized you need a full team of developers; one person can’t do it,” she said.
In spring 2018, she applied and was accepted into the Andrews Launch Accelerator for the summer 2018 session; her startup at the time was named BnaFIT, but later changed it to WAAM, which better described the business concept.
Being in the Launch Accelerator “was great – the mentorship, weekly sessions teaching us different business tactics, ideas – that was really helpful, a game changer,” she said. “I learned a lot. Going through that program really gave me a chance to get this off the ground,” she said.
When her developer left to take “a real job,” she said, “it was kind of me by myself, so having that community and other developers in the Accelerator to talk to, and the mentors, was a big part of our success and a big part of my sanity,” she said.
Since then, Pavlinac has secured a $300,000 investment from Cofounders Capital and has hired “two very talented developers – Brian Marks, WAAM chief technology officer who had founded WebAssign while at NC State, a web app that the university continues to use to use, and developer Ziwa Mukungu.
She had met Cofounders Capital investor David Gardner through the Andrews Launch Accelerator, initially as a guest speaker and then as a sounding board and an investor. “We’re all full time and because of the recent funding, we’re able to have salaries,” she said.
Pavlinac projects that WAAM will be in the app store this fall. The startup is currently recruiting trainers and “has a wait list campaign where you can sign up and be one of our beta testers for the next couple of months while we’re getting this out there,” she said.
Read more at the WAAM website.
This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.