AiThority Interview with Kenn Gudbergsen, CEO and Co-founder at TrainAway
Hi Kenn, please tell us about your journey in technology and how you started at TrainAway.
TrainAway was born out of there being no simple tech solution to getting access to a gym when traveling. Until TrainAway it was an extremely slow, manual process with numerous barriers stopping travelers from getting access to good fitness facilities on the road.
I was working at PwC in Management Consultancy and couldn’t understand how there wasn’t a tech solution for this, in the era of Airbnb and Uber. Along with my Co-founder, we quickly mapped out a plan to build a platform that would help travelers access a gym anywhere in the world.
What technology drives TrainAway?
We’re driven by the desire to facilitate people’s health journeys, wherever this takes them. Our ultimate goal is to use Machine Learning to understand people’s lifestyles and routines, enabling us to give them access to the right health and fitness facilities at the right point, therefore enabling healthy lifestyles on the road as well as at home.
To do that we need a network, so coupled with that is a very low tech part of our business. This involves making commercial agreements with individual gym operators to offer access to TrainAway users, who gain access using the Mobile platform.
Which geographies are you currently targeting to sell your product?
Having strong coverage across North America, Europe, South America, and Australia, it is Asia that draws our focus. The fastest-growing fitness markets are found in East Asia, and cultural differences with the west make TrainAway’s tech solution instantly appealing.
Our next country to launch is Thailand, followed by Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, where we aim to cover all main travel hubs.
How do you reach your customers using digital platforms?
A key priority for us is platform integration, particularly with other fitness platforms. For example, we can make TrainAway functionality available within the apps of individual gyms, meaning that their members can access the TrainAway network from within their standard gym app.
The fact that they do not need to download a new app or taking time to sign up makes it that much easier for us to reach potential users wanting to access fitness facilities when traveling. This is highly valued by the gyms themselves, who are keen to help their members when they travel.
Coronavirus has resulted in a major slowdown of economies. What do you think about technology coming to the rescue and revitalizing the economy back to normalcy?
Technology is key to coming through this crisis. It’s been vital for achieving business continuity, in a way that would not have been possible ten years ago. As for the future, tech companies will drive the immediate post-crisis economic growth, not least because many of the hardest-hit organizations have been those operating in more traditional industries.
Nations will be looking for a productivity boost to revitalize their economies, and cutting-edge technology – such as AI and Blockchain – are at the heart of this. From now on we need to think very carefully about how we fulfill various functions in our business, to minimize any vulnerabilities we might have.
Tell us more about the team you work with? What kind of skills and abilities does one need to be part of the TrainAway’s product development team?
We have some real wizards on our team who can build the most fantastic solutions from nothing, but that’s not what sets them apart. Ours is a two-sided platform, serving both users and gyms, and that means our user experience is heavily scrutinized, so our whole development team has to have a constant eye on this.
As we’re scaling fast, we don’t have time for lengthy user testing or multiple rounds of feedback, so we need developers who can anticipate the needs of the user as they are building. This means we can move more quickly because our MVP is much closer to the finished product than it would otherwise be.
What is your opinion on technology being too much of a focus in businesses traditionally focused on person-to-person contact? How do you promote technology without undermining this aspect of a business?
Our policy is always: only use technology where it genuinely improves the experience. Our industries of fitness and travel are very dependent on human contact, and we want to enable this, rather than getting in the way. For example, TrainAway will reduce the time gym staff have to spend checking in guests by 95%, so that they can spend more time with their members.
The key point is that we’re not trying to replace people, we’re trying to make their jobs easier. We know many gyms value our technology because it means their staff isn’t put in awkward positions with travelers not speaking their language. Our technology helps them overcome what would have previously been significant obstacles to increased revenue.
The Crystal Gaze
What unique AI/Emerging technology start-ups and labs are you keenly following?
There are a huge number of great tech startups out there, that we follow very closely, but as inspiration, we can’t look past Airbnb. Much of what we are trying to achieve – using technology to bridge the gap between two very compatible groups – has been inspired by Airbnb doing the same in the vacation rental sector.
Now having the coverage, they’re making huge steps forward in using data and tech to provide an all-round travel experience, which we want to do for the health and fitness sector. Where Airbnb says ‘stay local’, we say ‘stay healthy’.
What other emerging technologies within your industry are you interested in?
Wearable technology, especially in terms of health and fitness trackers, will be vital to our industry, and in what we are trying to create. We need to be able to harness the health data of individuals to ensure we are providing the right services at the right time to our users.
AI is the future of all many of our health needs, but we need the ability to gather the data in the first place, and wearable technologies give the ability to rapidly acquire a wealth of data that we can use to better promote healthy lifestyles.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn.
Thank you, Kenn! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Kenn Gudbergsen is the Co-founder and CEO at TrainAway.
Kenn graduated from Copenhagen Business School in 2015 with a major in Applied Economics and Finance combined with a minor in business strategy. He started his professional career in PwC as a management consultant working with Finance and Strategy before co-founding TrainAway.
TrainAway enables travelers to buy access to gyms via the TrainAway app or website. There are no contracts, subscriptions or sign up fees – you only pay when you train. With partners in over 800 cities across over 45 countries, TrainAway provides access to fitness facilities all over the world. Our mission is to break down barriers to fitness, so we can all enjoy healthy and active lifestyles, even when we’re away from home. For gyms, we help your members stay in their active routine even when they’re not training with you. We also provide an easy means for you to welcome travelers into your gym when they’re visiting your city – and earn extra revenue in the process.