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This new Melbourne start-up has set out to rival $54 million US-based Classpass in Australia


Launching in early 2015 – just in time before you drop that New Year resolution to get fit and healthy, fitness start-up Classhopper has set out to take the pain out of exercise, whilst putting a huge range of activities conveniently right at your fingertips, without the burden of an enormous price tag.

Classhopper is being soft launched in Melbourne after recently opening a $1.5 million pre-Series A investment round, in a bid to bring the hype that hot fitness start-up Classpass has generated in the US to Australia.

Classhopper has been designed to overcome many of the obstacles faced by Aussies trying to live a healthy active lifestyle by streamlining the health and fitness industry using an innovative point system in which members pay for classes using points, which they receive monthly through a single affordable membership.

How exactly does Classhopper work?

Classhopper offers everything from aerobics to zumba in a single membership across hundreds of studios. Members can search for classes, make reservations and go.

Simple as that!

You see, one issue many Aussies face when it comes to exercise is boredom: so why go through the same motions, thrice a week, when Classhopper offers the freedom and flexibility to, for example, try Pilates on Monday, yoga on Wednesday and zumba on Friday?

Oh, now I see where the name Classhopper comes from…

Classhopper has three membership tiers to suit different lifestyles and as mentioned above, uses a points system, whereby the member pays a monthly membership fee and receives hundreds of points to spend each month – it is these points that they use to pay for classes.

For example, a premium member receives 950 points per month which they could choose to spend, for example, as follows: 40 points on a yoga class, 60 on boxing and 90 on a boot camp, then switch it all up the next week.

It all depends on how one feels like exercising that particular week.

Furthermore, Classhopper’s flexibility is perfectly matched by its convenience. No more rummaging through the Internet to find class times – all timetables and studio information is available through the website. Simply book and go!

“If there’s one thing that kills motivation, it’s boredom,” said co-founder, Emma Hoffman (pictured above). “But we’re not just another fitness directory – our user-friendly system has made it easy to create the fitness regime you’ve always wanted, without the fuss.”

Importing a great idea and standing out in the market

In mid-January, US-based Classpass secured an additional $40 million series-B funding, which brings their total funding to $54 million since starting just 18 months ago.

Australian entrepreneurs and investors are scrambling to reproduce a similar company in Australia – but Classhopper were six months ahead of the game and are already in beta mode, soft launching a similar product, with a few tweaks and improvements.

“Our major point of difference to our competitors is the fact that we use a subscription/membership structure,” Emma pointed out to Anthill.

“This ultimately translates to a more sustainable business model and higher retention rate,” she explained. “Almost all of our local competitors use a “single entry” structure which makes it more flexible for customers but doesn’t do much to generate returning customers or stimulate retention.”

She says they have addressed this issue by offering no contracts or minimum lock in term.

“We have also monetized on the consumer side, not the merchant side,” Emma added. “Many of our competitors charge a listed fee for companies to list their services on their sites but we do not charge companies any set fees.”

“One other major point of differentiation is that many of our competitors compete on price, where we compete on service,” she further remarked. “For example, they offer discounts and price promotions of various studio classes, where we focus on providing a higher quality of personalised service and variety in our class offerings.”

What is the story behind Classhopper?

Based in Melbourne, Emma Hoffman is a 25-year-old successful serial entrepreneur who spent a few years in the corporate world but quickly felt suffocated working for someone else.

Listed in the Top 50 Female Entrepreneurs Under 40 list, she has been featured in several national publications and been nominated for various business awards such as the Telstra Business awards.

Classhopper is the brainchild of Emma’s business partner Gary Kshepitzki, who is the original founder. Gary has 20 years experience in software and product R&D and project management.

After selling her previous start-up, bigdeal (a mobile couponing app that operated predominantly in the hospitality industry) Emma decided to go to Israel to spend some time immersing herself in the thriving start-up community of Tel Aviv.

While there, she came across a website called Founder’s Nation, which connects entrepreneurs to co-founders and Gary’s profile immediately stood out to her.

“We clicked straight away and have worked brilliantly together ever since,” she shared with Anthill. “Our first conversation went for four and a half hours and I think that’s when we both knew we were onto something.”

“I was immediately drawn to Gary’s concept because I had started to take my own health and fitness more seriously and was unsatisfied with the services currently offered in the Australian market.”

Emma officially became the co-founder in October 2014 and the two have since been managing and developing Classhopper remotely but communicate daily through email and Skype.

“At first we were concerned that the geographic distance would be an issue but it’s proven not to be,” she revealed. “The time difference has actually made some things more convenient because it means that there is always someone in control 24 hours a day.”

As earlier mentioned, Classhopper is being soft launched across Melbourne.

“We want to drip feed customers into studios, without totally overwhelming them and this also gives us an opportunity to quickly resolve any kinks or bugs early on,” Emma explained. “We know there are always teething issues with any start-up which is why we have decided to go with a soft launch strategy.”

“However, we anticipate expanding quite quickly and expect to enter the Sydney market within the next six months,” she added. “Following growth into Sydney and stabilizing within these markets, we have our eyes on the global market and international expansion.”