This week we speak to David Kyle, founder of FitPro Lead Generation. FitPro helps gyms and sports clubs market digitally via its agency model and speeds up the process with its Lead Deck SaaS solution. You can listen to the interview above or subscribe now with your favourite podcasting app.
FitPro Lead Generation
HQ: Cardiff, Wales
Founders: 1 - David Kyle
[Auto-generated transcription plus minor tweaks, please notify of issues]
Rob: This week, I'm talking to David Kyle from Cardiff based FitPro Lead Gen once a football coach and gym owner, David now runs a fast-growing lead generation agency and has since developed SaaS based Lead Deck to help existing and new clients. So David thank you very much for agreeing to be on the Wales in Tech podcast. I'm going to start with our usual, five questions, what's your company called? And what's it do?
David Kyle: So we have two companies kind of blends into one so we are a digital marketing agency. Specialized in the fitness industry called fitful region, then we kind of saw a need for the software to help clients generate the leads are nurtured leads, which is where lead that came in. So you B2B or b2c B2B always be to be a soft modeling agency model or you mixed. So it is mixed. FitPro Lead Gen is the agency model and Lead Deck is the SaaS model.
Rob: Great. And do you have investment already or you completely bootstrapped?
David Kyle: No, completely bootstrapped. As we take more clients on, we find more staff, we buy new stuff and then we just keep kind of building.
Rob: Do you think one day you could be looking for investment or do you want to stay bootstrapped?
David Kyle: It depends where we go and what opportunities there are at this moment in time. It really is just finding clients find the staff finding clients finding the staff. Whereas, with lead that the SaaS company depending where we take that, that might be a place to search for investment depending on how big and where we want to take it. So it's not something that's crossed my mind just yet but you never know.
Rob: Could you give me a little indication of who you are. What your background is?
David Kyle: I graduated from University went straight into a full-time job, a swim school. The guy was away for basically the six months. I was there, he was traveling around South America and I thought. Hmm. Why am I working for him making him money when he's kind of just off? Obviously now I can see a but back then I was like that's that's unfair so I quit the job and start the football coaching business back in North Wales.
That went extremely well we were in the TV on the radio in the newspapers we have locations all over North Wales but my knowledge of business back then was limited to. I wasn't charging enough. I was given too much way for free and it just grown grown big like we had loads of staff and everything but I was never actually had any money as like, how am I supposed to buy a house? How am I supposed to buy your car? How am I supposed to kind of Move out my grandparents.
Basically, that's how I became a PT. I did my fitness qualifications started to understand the business more. So learnt Facebook ads and like you say, as that's that's the story there learnt Facebook ads, who the bit grew the business moved to Cardiff drew the business.
Everybody was asking at the same time, so we started the agency about five, six years ago, as well, sold the business start of the, and then my sole focus is Just dump the agency and obviously, the SaaS company, which is Lead Deck.
Rob: So you are very much a sports person. Did you do a sports degree?
David Kyle: I get funny looks when I tell people I actually did football studies at Southampton.
Rob: So, you came back to Wales? Great. That's what we like to hear. And that point there, which you mentioned between, you know, running these football clubs and getting into Facebook ads was up because you know you want to drive demand to your own clubs or was there like some kind of always an underlying interest in technology and and how these things work?
David Kyle: Yeah technology has always been there. And obviously when you start a business just like what do you do? Just hope that people discover you or do you actually want to try and figure out how people can come to you? And that's how I came across Facebook ads. That's how I came across WordPress for the websites and stuff and that's how it came across email marketing and text messaging and Whatsapp marketing.
Rob: This is obviously a very popular and populated Market. There's a lot of different competitors here in lead gen at least you seem to have really, you know, made a niche for yourself in Fitness because that's also your background and in Port is that on purpose or you just doing what, you know, or other plans, perhaps one day to be lead gen more generally.
David Kyle: So it goes back to not having all your eggs in one basket. There are plans and we do have one or two clients outside of the fitness industry. The reason we're in the fitness industry is because solely because of the gym. So as people saw the gym grow and they were asking questions and you saw the results from the Facebook ads, it was just a natural thing. And the big thing, especially from the gym, She fought we do and just for anybody really watching if you have a niche or a tag audience, it just makes your life so much easier because now, we don't have to write. What has worked for plumbers? Are what ads work for dentist or what adds works for gardeners literally just right? This is the type of ads, you should run for Fitness business, which means that attracts Fitness business owners and that repels, the people who are not our target audience. Obviously, you're going to get people who liked your content anyway and still going to reach a Not that your tag audience and then you just decide then, you know what, yeah, I still would like to work with them. So to answer the question, we are going to move further down the line, but right now, aim is to become the number one than you
Rob: You keep mentioning a gym. Did you used to own a gym? Then is, or do you still have the gym?
David Kyle: We had a fitness facility studio called Fit Hub 30 in Cardiff. We had it for five years
Rob: Now I'm giving away my I'm over 30 now, but I think I remember these ads on Instagram.
David Kyle: The biggest issue was time. So as we all know, as business owners, you have to put all your focus into everything and that's why you will. You have a business. Anything y'all, you know, I've Just Seen YouTube video and it's going to make me thousands of pounds. Let's start that side, hustle that now has taken 40 percent off your main income, and then a month Adar languages. I owe, my meaning comes, I'll drop drastically because about no attention into there. That's what was happening with the gym. So, the gym went really well, when I was in there, but as FitPro only that both grew, like, we've got 11 staff here in the office. Never loved, it's just got so big that my attention wasn't in the gym and it just what it was. Just it was trickling, someone came in and said, Dave would you be interested in selling? And it was just the right time.
Rob: Oh so you sold the gym?
David Kyle: Yes.
Rob: Oh that's a great experience in itself, you know, a lot of tech founders that's kind of the goal to sell a business. How did you find that process? You don't have to give away any numbers or anything but what was you know how did it feel like was it was it arduous was it easier than you thought?
David Kyle: It's a strange one. I said on another podcast the other month about selling of the gym and a lot of it was to gym owner space or my lack of knowledge around selling businesses but my thought had always been, I will grow this business as big as possible and I'll just keep growing. I never thought about an exit strategy for the business.
It's not something I knew about. I just made it up as I go along, and that's how most of us run our businesses. It was difficult because obviously we had to sign an NDA. So we weren't allowed to tell clients. We were had to go on his word only.
One of the things I do kind of regret was we didn't put in a deposit clause in there where he had to pay the posit to us, looking back on it. In case either pulled out after we had told the clients. We've had no deposit, so if the clients left, that's a good chunk of income gone, and we've got no deposit to back it up with.
But obviously, I knew the guy and it was a, it was a nice easy process. But think about again, if I didn't know the person deposit would have made our lives a lot easier.
Rob: I think that's different between a physical business and tech. Where your clients could physically walk away from you? Online tech business where the clients generally don't know what's happening until it's done. That was the case when I sold my own business, we didn't actually tell them it was sold for quite a while after until we got all the contracts in place and everything like that.
David Kyle: I think more of a case, if it's, if it's attached to you, like a personal business. Clients jump because because of how we personally built the brand.
It's like if someone goes to a salon to a particular person or they go to a gym because of that person. And say if if you want a digital business digital Fitness business, they're coming to Fitness business because of you, whereas, if I were to sell you that today like you they wouldn't see changes.
It's not only going to change the whole algorithm, it's going to change the whole whole setup of how everything is structured and then people leave because they don't like the new structure, they don't relate to the new personality running the business.
Rob: So definitely buying into personality and in that personal service. Tell me about Lead Deck, where did it come from? Why did you create it? Did you create it in house? Did you, you know, hire developers Outsource or why does it exist? And what service? What purpose does it serve?
David Kyle: We started as a marketing agency essentially. We brought on a new client, they would be using active campaign, wufoo and TextMagic, so we'd have to relearn those. And then the next person comes in and they say they have MailChimp, Google forms, etc. We've got to run around that now. I mean there's so many different ones out there so we'd have to teach the staff, every single one which then became a nightmare because we're spending way too much time learning this stuff rather than doing our job and that's kind of when Lead Deck came about.
So a new client comes along and they use many different tools and thats when we say, look, you're paying all these different amounts for different things, just use Lead Deck and put all the information in one place.
Lead Deck is built off another platform, it's a white label. We've basically gone in tweak that made it specific to the fitness industry, built it in a way that it's it works for us and our clients and their. Now obviously, we use it for clients and we obviously sell it.
Rob: That's quite funny. I do some Consulting for startups and growth companies, and I've only been doing it since I sold my own tech company and it is incredible. I always knew this I think but it was incredible to see all the different tools everyone uses to do more or less the same thing and I have exactly the same issue you come in and you say look it would be best if you maybe bought this tool or subscribe to this tool and they're like oh you know that even though they might be paying unit, their marketing agency or the Consultants thousands of pounds, they don't want to spend $40 and a tool that would make their whole life easier. There is a lot of learning so I really hear you. They really I've had exactly the same experience as you there. So I can see why you've gone towards kind of amalgamating all that into one platform.
How would how many of your agency clients use the platform and do you have people who use the platform who aren't agency clients?
David Kyle: I would say maybe it's about 50/50, obviously lot of people already have things set up previously, so when you come in and say, what have you got? Obviously, that's the first thing, understand their business. What are their needs? Why people come to them? They have to just understand all about their business.
So then we look at their metrics. If all is good, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Rob: What do the competitors look like in this space?
David Kyle: Yeah. So our competitors are UK and international. So for the software, definitely International. I know people all around the world who have similar software as a similar setups and stuff and we obviously need to try and beat them, one of our main tactics, always been just work on what you know, we know the UK audience inside out.
So let's just really put a lot of our focus on UK audience but with lead their car software again, something we should all be doing is partners. So main driver from away from paid ads is Partners who can we partner with that? Can sell the software for us, either through affiliate or through their own mentorship programs? What are they have one? And so we pull a lot of clients in through through Partners, basically was a digital marketing, we try and focus just on the UK.
Rob: I suppose what that leads to now is asking what is your Five-Year Plan? How do you expect you'll look in two, three, four, five years down the line.
David Kyle: We are currently trying to move into a better office. Obviously this office is perfect but it's this is a rented space. We have offices upstairs officers by the side of us which is which is nothing wrong with that. But what we want is a custom office where we have a gym in the office. So then when we're doing tick-tocks or Instagram or are paid ads, we can actually go into the set almost like a j.a. working gym but also a set where we have the A background of gym equipment and everything, so it looks more unique but also make it more of a more relaxed office as well. So, that's kind of a main focus for the next year or so.
The next step, well, I want to try and step away. Obviously, I'm in my thirties now as well. So children of children's, not to find a distance, I want to try and pull myself out so I can kind of enjoy my life for maybe a year and a half before I do. Officially settle down, if that makes sense and then continue with growing a business against, that's probably the next three or four years of. Yeah, I can only give you a three or four year plan right now.
Rob:. This makes me think that you're quite integral to your business at the moment? If you stepped away, it wouldn't operate as well as it is now or are you kind of putting in place structures so that, you know, you'd still be able to cope.
David Kyle: The whole team is built. I'm now mr. Motivator you know. I see myself more as the visionary. That's really what the owner of a business should be. It's the person that's really visualises. What you want to do with the business moving forward. The team is great so I could step away, like we've got a couple of holidays planned.
Rob: I'm not a massively sporty person like you but my I've got like a, what's the word? The way I see management and good management is that as the boss, you are like a referee and you prepare the pitch and then your colleagues play on that pitch. And you've got to make it like, you know, a fair game, provide them with the tools, you know, the Aging rooms the kit whatever, so they can play the game, which is the business. And also really set the rules because sometimes I often find people working companies and not knowing how to win the game or how to play the game. And so, as the manager, I always feel like, you know, that's your responsibility to make the game fair and easy to play. And so, when you said, you know, your team knows what they're doing. And if you could step away for a few months, I think that's The ideal way to run a business because it shouldn't be about one person because that's dangerous, right? You could walk away and then six people or 11 people like you have would be lost. So yeah, it's a good way to run a business.
David Kyle: It's an interesting one. We focus a lot this year on KPIs and pattern these rules in place. Obviously we want the staff to be able to have their own created creativity and to enjoy the work, but at the same time, targets need to be hit. And I We'll always take responsibility for everything even our clients leave. I will blame myself. And the reason I blame myself is because I didn't teach the staff member, well, enough on how to keep an app client. I worked at a company once that was very, very blame game and it never works. Like the whole staff become totally disenchanted with their jobs, even the management become miserable because you're always looking to put the blame on someone else, it doesn't work. It's always just the learning opportunity and that's why We'll take it, I will take it and then figure out how we can stop it happening. Next time. What it does better training needs to be placed as better Communications you about him? So like I say you can figure it out to them. When I do step away, for these long-term situations in those situations, do pop up. We've worked and it previously, we've gone through the motions of what to do in that situation. So yeah.
Rob: What would you say is the biggest challenge for FitPro Lead Gen and the software, Lead Deck?
David Kyle: The big one for Leed Deck right now is, is showing how we're different because that you say, when you were doing this and like, same for us, there's so many different software's out there that do the same thing. So our struggle at the moment is to find a niche for Lead Deck and go from there.
Also finding the right staff members and that's one of our big things, we work quite a lot. When we take a staff member on experience matters, quality of work matters, but fitting in and being part of the politics of the office is super important.
Rob: We often talk about this in Wales. Not just Wales actually, I think it's every country in the world but certainly I know from you know, meetings I've been in with Welsh government but also I know England has a similar problem. It's that, you know, skills shortage right there. There there are a lot of open posts at the moment and the job market, but they're not being filled and Is still historically quite low. It's difficult to find staff and colleagues, who are you have the skills, right? And also fit the work culture like you just mentioned.
So would you say that it holds you back? Would you if you found the right person? Tomorrow, would you be hiring more? If you knew that there were more people who fit the right mould.
David Kyle: It's an interesting one, the social media marketing post, we put that out and we've An in undated with applications for that post, but we put a post out for, we're looking for a Facebook ads specialist, then you just see Tumbleweed idea because it's not one of those things that's taught is something that you go and learn yourself. So finding a digital finding a media. Buyer for the Facebook Ad Agency is is how much more of a challenge, whether social media management is fine because it's a it's a much. Talked about stuff that's done in college stuff that new school. It's a lot more taut. So if there is, if there is a gap is being very specific with more specific niches.
Rob: Is there a possibility that you could employ, someone perhaps not as skilled but in the right area and then you're paying them while they learn essentially?
David Kyle: Yeah, that's that's exactly what we do. So obviously putting out there, we want to Facebook ads person with five. As experience. You get nothing. Yeah. Because either they've got five years experience and I wouldn't own agency or they're really high paid at another agency and they don't sleep. Because finding that experience is a because it's not many of them, it costs a lot more to get them in. So we're now basically just go let's look for graduates and yeah yeah it's that skills, questions, always interesting.
Rob: There are so many ways now to self learn too. It's somethign to think about, hiring motivated people who you can put through online training courses if they don't have the required skills.
I'm sure that a lot of people, enjoy learning, a lot of people cry out for learning opportunities that work. So, I think that's, that's a really good point as well, just for this podcast in general, because it's About you know, that hoping to encourage Tech entrepreneurs in Wales that you don't need a degree in a, in a tech based subject.
You don't need a computer science degree to be a developer, may be a software engineer would benefit greatly from a computer science degree. There are many jobs out there that aren't software engineering, and you can get very far just by having an interest, but it's just being self-motivated. There are so many courses.
You can pretty much learn anything. I have a business and language degree and you don't need a business degree to run a business, right? You are running a very successful business, you don't have a business degree. So, you know, it's often like a misnomer, people think that they need a degree in a certain subject to do something. You don't, you just need to interest and enough motivation to go and learn and speak to people who have the role, like, learn from them.
Get a mentor, maybe someone who's been in the industry for a few years. There are so many opportunities and University was great for me, you know, socially.
David Kyle: But not financilaly.
Rob: Exactly. I'm 36. I was the last year that paid a thousand pounds a year and now like people are paying nine thousand pounds a year, just for the fees. I mean I would really can I would be I would find it difficult to justify now. Going to University, you know, just for the social, because to be honest, you can go self-learn and then go for a few holidays Tenerife with your mates for much less than 9 Grand a year. So yeah, it's a difficult one to argue for.
Rob: What, how, what would be your opinion about starting a business here in Wales? Did you really think about it when you did the football coaching? Or was it just the primary motivation for to do football coaching? And you know, how did it feel going through all the motions of like setting up a limited company and hiring staff.
David Kyle: The mindset is a big one though. Please don't get me wrong, but I think in Wales, sometimes we have the mindset of our in Wales. We're not going to get the funding as they do anymore. We're not going to be as as big as what island is because You can do XY and z and I think sometimes that maybe use a little bit, maybe as an excuse, like everyone said, all is no point doing a football coaching business North Wales. Yeah, we were the first person do it. We would biggest one that did it. If I knew what I knew now would probably be across North Wales and Liverpool and Manchester, and Chester, and all those kind of places now, so don't don't, don't think just because we're in Wales, it's not possible.
Granted, there is a significant difference between South Wales and North Wales. You could literally put a line, the minute, you go past the breath and just draw a line there, South Wales. So many opportunities, anything above back and onwards, like just, just, just just game over basically. So if Mark Drakeford, if you are listening please just go and help the people in North Wales out a little bit more.
The opportunities are endless like I learned Facebook ads by watching YouTube, sat in my Nana's bedroom in North Wales like I can do it then anybody can do it.
Rob: That sounds like great advice. So I'm going to ask you for a little bit more advice. You know what was the most important lesson you've ever learned in business?
David Kyle: Don't copy somebody else. I think that might be the biggest lesson, like, use what they do as a framework as a template as inspiration as ideas but don't copy them, people can see right through it. Try and stay authentic to yourself.
Rob: Okay, that's good advice that makes sense.
Do you do you think you feel supported by the liked by other businesses around you physically? So here in Wales or Tech businesses, are you members of any groups or anything which provide you support and do you have a Enter yourself. For example, do I have a mentor?
David Kyle: Yes, I do have a mentor. We speak once a week and I do I mentored more of an accountability partner. They've got higher Insight knowledge. That maybe you don't know about about the same time. It's making sure you do. What he said you're going to do exactly that and the day, they're not going to do that work for you. They will give you the knowledge and give you the insight and give you a drop jump framework, which we keep talking about. You still have to go and do that work...
Rob: Yeah, indeed, you have to do the work.
Okay, thank you very much, David. I've learnt a lot today. You've gone from being a football coach to running a gym to a lead generation agency to now having your own software to manage that entire process. I think that's quite some journey and you're still very much at the beginning of it. So I wish you all the success and I hope we can talk again in about a years time to see what your progress is.