Startup Spotlight: COEO
Startup Spotlight: COEO
Meet Scarlet Batchelor – CEO and Founder of Coeo, a social platform that aims to bring fitness-driven individuals together!
GH: What is Own The COEO?
COEO is platform that brings together fitness through deep personal connections. Today we’re building a powerful community led by fitness instructors and long term we’re building a fitness marketplace, like an Open Table for fitness classes and events.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did COEO get started?
After almost a decade at a sports brand, I trained as a yoga instructor 18 months ago. A long time yogi and athlete, as I came to the end of my training I realized there were two important tenets to powerful fitness experiences – amazing instructors and powerful communities. And whereas fitness has boomed over the last decade through major studio brands (think SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Yoga Works), that thread of communities and instructors across studios and experiences has been left by the wayside. So I left my corporate gig (yup! I did!) to launch COEO and bring this powerful market together.
GH: How did you build your team?
Early on I connected with an amazing designer (and spin instructor) Hanna Yang. From the onset, it was clear that we shared an affinity for powerful visuals and a gritty/honest approach. Hanna started out building the brand guidelines and, based on our synergies, has stayed on to do everything creative-oriented for COEO.
From there we started to build our community of instructors. We started out by using out platform to tell their stories and backgrounds and the relationship morphed into many of them serving as our greatest advocates and evangelists. Today we have almost 20 instructor-leaders for our community.
I’m also lucky to have some powerful advisors. Joost Ouwerkerk is an amazing tech advisor and CTO at travel-app Hopper (very important as I don’t have a tech co-founder) and Kate Keough, COO at Pepperland, advises on strategy and financing.
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
#positivebadassary is what guides all we do. It’s the idea of being incredible and inspiring, but also inclusive. As a team and a brand, we are rooted in driving our community and each other to do more and be more.
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?
Early on, we designed a web test in which we manually aggregated our COEO instructor schedules and provided links for class sign ups. (A very rough version of our long-term goal of being a fitness marketplace that serves as an aggregator.) The test was a failure as we did not drive as much traffic as we would have liked to that side of the site, nor did we get many repeat visits. But when we looked more deeply we DID get traffic, just not to the places where we expected. We got visits to our blog content as well as to our events. Through this process we realized we needed to be community first and utility later, just like the value proposition of lasting and meaningful fitness routines. We used that learning to spend more time concentrating on community development and brand resonance before investing heavily in our long-term platform.
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
We learned from our first customers that our approach is refreshing, honest, and powerful. When we started to bring our digital community together “IRL”, the response was resounding! Our first COEO fitness class sold out in 24 hours, as did our first book club event. (Yup! These communities don’t just want to sweat together, they want alternate ways to build relationships as well.)
GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?
As a member of the 5th cohort of Babson’s WINLab, I gained an amazing set of inspiring peers: other female entrepreneurs in Boston we are looking to set the world on fire and make a difference. I also gained a powerful network of mentors and friends that can help guide me when I feel off track or need some extra encouragement.
Being part of The Capital Network program in my first 6 months in business was very powerful as well. A long time manager and leader in the corporate world, startup financing and modeling is quite difference than my past models. The Capital Network provided me with a meaningful foundation as I start to look at funding and growth.
Finally, my sports/footwear network from my corporate career has continued to support me and inspire me. Mentors and friends are always ready to brainstorm a problem or pivot, or make connections that can help to move COEO forward.
GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?
So much of maintaining strength and momentum as an entrepreneur is about mental strength. There is room for more support and groups to help us moving forward from this perspective. This article from Forbes is interesting and sheds some light on it: https://www.forbes.com/sites/meganbruneau/2018/04/04/8-reasons-entrepreneurs-are-particularly-vulnerable-to-mental-health-challenges/
Personally, I am lucky as a yoga student and teacher that I get to engage in a dialogue about intention and focus each day on my mat and that has been a huge help. I’m also part of an entrepreneur accountability group where we are focusing on resilience. We’re currently reading The Resilience Factor as a group and reflecting on our personal resilience and ways to make it stronger.
I think there is a way to institutionalize some of these support networks so entrepreneurs are more supported and equipped to manage through the stresses that the startup world brings.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
“It’s really hard.”
Joost Ourwerkerk, CTO Hopper
“Consider a gratitude practice.”
Anthony Chavez, Core Power Yoga
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
Being profiles in Diversity in Action magazine’s “Women Making a Difference in Health and Wellness” article because my goal really is to make a difference and make a net positive impact in my communities and personal relationships.
GH: What does the future hold for COEO?
We will build a powerful community where people feel connected and a sense of belonging. We will marry the trends of experiences and technology to make people’s lives healthier and happier. Along the way, I know I will learn and grow as an entrepreneur and the COEO brand and business will shift and grow in ways that I can only imagine today. I’m excited for all that is to come!
Learn more about COEO!