Interview with Claudio Franco, Global CMO, Gympass

Claudio Franco
Claudio Franco

“Data never lies and can unlock so much potential, but it is very much a language that must be learned.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you join Gympass?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been passionate about technology. My teenage passion for repairing PCs and developing websites drove me to study Computer and Electronic Engineering. After school, I joined a management consultancy firm for five years and eventually landed as Head of New Business for an Israeli venture backed by Accel Partners, a firm that makes educational board games. My role was to design their first digital product, which aligned with the company’s business goals, as well as guide the development with the technology team. When the first version was released, a large part of my role was to grow the customer base and drive user engagement.

Soon after, the opportunity with Gympass presented itself. It was an obvious move for me, as it was growing five times faster than the company I was at. I was also attracted to Gympass’ growing international footprint and even larger ambitions, as it afforded me the opportunity to work across global markets on a project of enormous scale.

On a personal level, I’ve always been into sports and fitness. I love extreme sports, HIIT, and martial arts including karate and Muay Thai, so Gympass’ mission to defeat inactivity resonated with me. I see my role as a combination of my greatest passions: marketing, technology, and an active lifestyle.

What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does Gympass add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?

Gympass sits across three main tentpoles. Our global fitness network stands out to companies that are interested in investing in employee wellbeing, but have historically struggled to find individualistic enterprise-wide solutions.

Global corporations, like Santander Bank, Accenture, and Unilever, require a scalable, flexible fitness approach for employees. Additionally, we understand how important it is for these companies to have insight into their workforce’s habits and trends. That’s why we provide analytics dashboards that HR departments can use to measure results in real-time.

For our fitness partners, we provide a new audience of customers through a pipeline of users who can find activities easily through our seamless discovery platform.

Finally, for our users, it’s simple. We help them discover a fitness routine they love and can stick to no matter their schedule or where location.

Gympass helps people connect with fitness in an entirely new way and provides organizations with the tools they need to empower and improve the health of their employee population.

Where do you see the Fitness Discovery industry in 2020?

Increasingly, people understand that they don’t have to settle when it comes to fitness because they have the tech they need to discover gyms, compare classes, and read reviews in their pocket. Our motto, “find an activity to love,” represents how technology and globalization are lowering the traditional barriers to access associated with physical fitness. A few specific ways we see our work continuing to reshape the future of fitness, include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a critical role in maximizing the success of everyone’s fitness journey. Imagine a personal, smart assistant that can recommend the fitness activities that you have a higher chance of staying longer with, as well as monitor your progress towards defined goals.
  • Wearables will enrich data collection to provide the best user experience, helping people to track their goals and monitor success.
  • Socializing fitness: a study from Harvard says that when people work out together, they are more likely to stick to their goals. We’re working to offer powerful tools to help people find fitness partners, and engage with other people with same preferences to increase rates of success and levels of enjoyment.

How often do you measure the performance of your marketing analytics and sales Reporting?

At Gympass, Marketing & Sales leaders monitor the performance and outcomes of their efforts in real-time. Our data hub consolidates information from various sources to help our teams make the best decisions in a timely fashion.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in HR/ digital Transformation?

The importance of analytics can’t be overstated. We believe that what is measurable is achievable. We have built this philosophy into our platform through real-time engagement dashboards, allowing HR departments and key stakeholders to capture the ROI of their Gympass investment and inform future workplace wellness decision making.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

Farmdrop. Farmdrop is an app that enables consumers to purchase produce directly from local farmers. Similar to us, they are using technology to reimagine the supply chain and logistics to help people achieve an affordable and healthy lifestyle.

Another company I’m watching is Ofo. Originally based in China, Ofo is a bike-sharing company that has expanded to Europe and North America. I love what they’ve done to fight immobility, empower daily fitness, and improve their local community.

What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

Collecting, organizing, and understanding data is a huge part of this preparation. The first part is to understand how to translate data into clusters. You cannot create an algorithm or build it to scale if you don’t know how to interpret it. Understanding how users are engaging with the Gympass platform enables us to enhance our product with AI. As a result, we are able to improve the user experience and deliver the data our B2B clients are seeking.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

For what we do, I find that using data and showing my team how best to leverage it is a great way to inspire them. The beauty of our work is being able to handle an infinite number of variables, figures, and hypotheses, to use data to get answers and validate (or invalidate) those hypotheses. We are always toying with theories and ideas about how to improve our business and our product, showing how data can help us make better decisions on a daily basis is the best way to embrace technology. Data never lies and can unlock so much potential, but it is very much a language that must be learned.

Beyond that, when our team sees how much data we have to share with HR professionals and how they can leverage the data to help drive organizations towards their goals using technology, things begin to take shape.

Another element we utilize to inspire people to work with technology is bringing in thought leaders to share stories with our team. Whether it’s at a conference or organized internally, I find that exposing our team to unique opinions in our field helps to open up people’s thinking.

One word that best describes how you work.

Passion.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Slack. I want to be close to my team, no matter where I am. With Slack, my team and I are in constant contact, whether we are in the same building or different countries. It’s the best way for me to stay connected and know what’s going on at all times. I also love our data visualization tool, Tableau, and, of course, Gympass. As a Global CMO, I travel a lot. I use Gympass to find activities I love in over 4,000 cities worldwide. Every morning I start my day by opening the app and planning my workout.  It’s safe to say I spend over half my online time on these apps!

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I divide my agenda in 10 slots and allocate them according to business goal priorities in a given quarter. This helps me not only to optimize my agenda, but also to communicate and reinforce business priorities with my team.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

“Exponential Organizations” by Salim Ismail: Rapid growth brings about its own set of challenges. This book showcases stories about companies that have grown in smart and measured ways, while changing the game and explaining how they did it.

“Freakonomics” by Stephen J Dubner and Steven Levitt: This is a book that inspired me greatly. I found it so insightful despite not even being connected to my specific industry. Looking at data, behavioral psychology, and related subjects is important to maintain as we look to nurture and maintain Gympass’ mission and success.

I’m also listening to a ton of podcasts. I’m addicted to “Masters of Scale,” hosted by Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Hire people that are better than you.” As we grow at such a rapid pace, we have to also give a lot of autonomy to the people working with and for us. It’s the best way to scale yourself and continuously improve while doing it. If you can’t rely on the people around you to do the job, the chances for successful and strategic growth drop significantly.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I’m resilient. Finding resilience in people today is really hard and I think that’s the secret to my success. I have an amazing marriage, love my job, and maintain my interest in both sports and fitness. I don’t make the mistake of thinking I am smarter than anyone, but my resilience and passion are off the charts and I think that accounts for so much.

Thank you, Claudio! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Claudio is the global CMO of Gympass. He has a B.Sc in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Gympass LogoGympass is a discovery platform that empowers companies to engage their workforce in physical activity by providing access to the largest global network of workout facilities. With a single monthly membership, companies can help employees find an activity they’ll love among more than 600 activities across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Our goal is to multiply the number of people exercising at every company to create a healthier and more engaged workforce Founded in 2012 and headquartered in New York, we have a growing team in 30 offices around the world. Our mission is simple yet ambitious: defeat inactivity, and we know the only way to get there is together, partnering with companies, gyms and having the best talent. The health and wellness concept started with our Co-Founder and CEO, Cesar Carvalho, back in 2011. While working as a consultant at McKinsey & Co, he found it difficult to find reasonably priced gyms while traveling for work. One year later, as Cesar was juggling an MBA at Harvard Business School (HBS), he found himself thinking about fitness options that were flexible, affordable, and, especially, fun. He left HBS and took the first steps towards what eventually became Gympass. The momentum continues to grow today with thousands of members and over 30,000 fitness facilities worldwide. Cesar lives out the Gympass mission by playing tennis every week, and discovering new activities no matter how busy he gets.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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