When George Molyneux (Organisational Psychology, 2018) realised he would make better progress and have more fun if he had someone to work out with, he decided to find a solution. Push Partner, his new app that connects people who want to exercise together, had its soft launch in March with the goal to grow so fewer people need to train alone.
“When I used to work for a small not-for-profit company based in Fulham, I would regularly go to the gym on my way home. Although I really enjoyed the exercise, I wasn’t making a great deal of progress and eventually found myself plateauing on all the major compound movements, leaving me stuck for ideas and frustrated,” George Molyneux explains.
“One summer evening, standing in the squat rack in between sets, I looked around and noticed that all the people who were in the best shape were usually in pairs. When resting they might have a natter, and during their sets, they would motivate and spot one another.”
Realising he would probably benefit from a training partner, George began to look for one, but research quickly told him that while there are apps for finding a romantic partner, there didn’t seem to be an equivalent for a workout one.
“Having always wanted to start a business of my own, this was my “aha!” moment. I had stumbled across a problem that was likely faced by many people, and it was all within an area that I had a passion for. I couldn’t resist but set my sights on the research and planning of my first business.”
George didn’t hesitate. After months of preparation, he left his day job to fully commit to his new project. However, he didn’t have the technical knowledge to actually build the app himself.
“Not having the technical capabilities of app development within my arsenal, it was evident that outsourcing the development would be the best option. Having assessed my options and received several business proposals, I decided to work with Digiruu, who are an app development company that specialise in startups like me.”
Working with an external team helped George focus his mind.
“Aman [at Digiruu] said, “What was the original idea because let’s do that.” In essence, I wanted Push Partner to solve every possible problem someone might face with regards to exercise, however, many of the best businesses and apps take a different approach and instead work on being extremely good at just one or two things. I like to think of Push Partner as a tool, and all the best tools do just one job.”
The Push Partner App had its soft launch in March 2021, which wasn’t exactly ideal timing for a product that promotes social interaction.
“The first major challenge I faced was creating a business during the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting a business under normal circumstances is challenging enough but doing everything over a broadband connection really tested my communication skills,” George says. “The pandemic had created unease amongst the public having any physical contact with those outside of their bubble. Similarly, trust between strangers was at an all-time low, so even with gyms beginning to open again, I was on the backfoot with an app that’s mission was to connect people with workout partners.“
According to George, Push Partner was also the first app of its kind which brought along its own set of challenges.
“Being the first to market certainly has its benefits, however, I was constantly having to break new territory when delivering my marketing messages as no one was familiar with a service that connects people with gym partners.“
Because the app connects users who live close to each other, George first established it in limited areas of South London but hopes that more and more users will join so other areas can benefit as well.
“With that said, I aim to have 2500 Monthly Active Users in London by February 2022. Word of mouth and continued marketing activities with various partners will see downloads rapidly increase beyond this point, and so by the end of the year I aim to be operating overseas.”
If things seem to have gone well for George so far, despite the pandemic, he attributes it to grit, even when he questioned his own decision.
“There’s a great phrase by the athlete and adventurer Ross Edgley, “Be ignorant enough to start, and determined enough to finish.” I have to say, this is me to a T! I had a vision and a passion for Push Partner, but when every step you take is one that you have never made before, it can create feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty. “
Being able to share that vulnerability helped George develop the app.
“Thankfully, I was very comfortable with admitting that experience was lacking, and so I would surround myself with people who both had my best interests at heart and had the experience to help guide my decision making.”
George also allowed himself to visualise success even if it took his vision beyond reality.
“Before the launch, I had visions of the app being an overnight hit across the globe. I thought that my phone would be ringing for hours on end with journalists, fellow entrepreneurs, gyms, and investors all wanting to have five minutes of my time. In my head I could see headlines of “How Has No One Thought Of This Before?!”, or “George Molyneux, The New Kid On The Block” – it’s funny what the mind can create when you let it loose! “
As a 2018 graduate in Organisational Psychology at City, George has a keen interest in the mind.
“I first came across the application of psychology in a business context during my Business Studies undergraduate degree. I always had an interest in how us humans work, why we make the decisions we do, and how we get to where we are, and so when factoring the brain with business growth and development, it instantly clicked for me as something that was, and probably still is, much overlooked as a means of competitive advantage.“
City’s course stood out to George for several reasons, including the range of modules and the practical knowledge of the academics.
“Many of the lecturers had both academic and operational experience, meaning that they not only knew their topic back to front, but they also understood its application in a real-world context. You can read all the books and research papers you like, but without their application, they are no more useful than a chocolate teapot!”
If someone had a great idea for an app, what would George’s advice be?
- Make friends with people who are not only smarter than you but who are different from you as well. Having friends who are smarter than you creates an internal culture of continued learning.
- Taking your concept from a vision in your mind and onto a piece of paper not only starts to make your app real, but it also helps you figure out potential issues that you’ll need to solve.
- As mentioned before, an app is like a tool. All the best tools do just one job, and they do it really well. Continually test your concept by talking about it to people from different backgrounds, not just those who you think might be your target market.
- Now you understand the user journey and you are working towards Product Market Fit, it’s time to think about scaling. Does your app solve a problem faced by many? How does it help people with that problem? What are the barriers to entry?
- My final piece of advice comes in the form of two quotes from the psychologist Philip Zimbardo and his book, The Time Paradox. “Use your time as you would like others to use theirs.” and “Now is the time to make the most of the time of your life. Yesterday was too early. Tomorrow will be too late. Today is the day of reckoning for each of us”. What the professor is saying here is, and this time to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “GET ON WITH IT!!”
A big thank you to George Molyneux for sharing his ongoing journey as a startup with us!