Opportunities Amidst Chaos

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Agile Response from Women-led Fitness Pass start-up in Peru

The crisis provoked by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the global economy, posing a particularly difficult challenge for entrepreneurs and startups. However, it is precisely these challenges that make for the best opportunities. This challenge was taken up by Alicia Vivanco, one of the female entrepreneurs who participated in the Women Entrepreneurs Week of the Swiss EP Programme who, amid the chaos of the pandemic, found the opportunity to reinvent and scale the Fitness Pass value proposition. 

In 2019, Alicia Vivanco founded the Fitness Pass start-up, which focuses on wellness and physical health. Together with her team, mainly comprised of women, they achieved 10 times the growth they expected. Following that path, her plan was to maintain or exceed this impressive growth in 2020...

An important part of Alicia’s success was the support she received from acceleration programmes such as Endeavor Peru's Scale-Up and Liquid Venture Studio – both growth-focused programmes – as well as her participation in the 2019 Women Entrepreneurs Week. During this week-long global event, organised by the Swiss EP Programme, Alicia met with businesswomen, mentors and investors from 6 different countries, exchanging experiences and valuable knowledge, which she did not hesitate to incorporate into her business.

Alicia Vivanco, founder of the Fitness Pass venture, in Lima, Peru.

Before the pandemic, the Fitness Pass value proposition focused on helping users achieve their health and wellness goals by providing them with an “all-in-one” access pass to a variety of studios and gyms in their city. However, as of mid-February 2020, data showed that Fitness Pass had a 25% decline in bookings. As the weeks passed and the global spread of the COVID-19 virus accelerated, the decline continued, bringing much uncertainty to the Fitness Pass team.

Alicia Vivanco with some of her partners in the Fitness Pass venture, before the COVID-19 pandemic made them face their biggest challenge ever.

A few weeks later, on March 15th, the Peruvian government decreed a state of emergency and it marked the beginning of a quarantine with mandatory social isolation. This led to countless businesses, including gyms and studios, to close their doors to the public. Thus, in the blink of an eye, Fitness Pass had no more studios and gyms for its users.

Like many other businesses affected by COVID-19 around the world, the Fitness Pass business model was also put to the test. The team had been hit but was far from defeated.

“On March 21st, we opened the Fitness Pass store, an e-commerce site for sports accessories so that users can purchase equipment to exercise at home. A week later, we launched a third business called LIFE, which is an entirely online platform that offers a virtual marketplace of wellness classes and experiences, including live and on-demand exercise classes, nutrition workshops, as well as an online psychologist, nutrition appointments, and cooking classes, once again connecting our current and new users with coaches from all over Latin America and Spain. Since then, the focus has been to increase our strategic and commercial alliances with companies and B2B clients in order to remain competitive and engage the workforce, retain talent and keep teams cohesive.” explains Alicia.

The main objective of her business is to keep people healthy and meet all their wellness goals in one place, which she successfully achieves with this new modality that is adapted to times of social isolation.

Also, this endeavor has caught the interest and attention of many investors throughout Latin America. Additionally, Fitness Pass's ability to quickly adapt and validate its value proposition while achieving a 120% increase in corporate sales and exceeding its top revenue by 15% shows they have great potential.

The team is on the way to achieving its vision of a world where people can have a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle and new social experiences in a single space: Fitness Pass.

This new business model and growth plan has resulted in high profile companies such as a leading insurance company and telemedicine company approaching Fitness Pass for collaboration, because they have seen the value that Fitness Pass can bring to their own customers.

In the last few months, the founder of Fitness Pass has been invited to participate in innovation webinars (“Resilience in entrepreneurship” by the Innovation For All initiative, as well as in conferences with other multinational companies such as “The future of the wellness industry”, and “Quarantined Sports Brands”), showing she is recognised not only for her resilience in business, but also for her relevance that her work brings to this global health crisis.

Today, Alicia continues seeking new knowledge by connecting with experienced entrepreneurs, because she understands that this is a long-term path. She is optimistic about the new normal we are already beginning to live in and is focused on preparing for the next round of Fitness Pass' funding in just a few months. She continues to leverage support from accelerators and the Swiss Entrepreneurship Programme to reach more investors and continue to drive Fitness Pass' growth.

“Although these times are still uncertain, what remains true is our resilience and commitment to our mission and our community”.

The Swiss Entrepreneurship Programme (Swiss EP) is a global programme that seeks to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem to facilitate the formation and growth of startups, with the ultimate goal of generating employment.