Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
For this week's founder feature, we'd like to introduce you to Catherine Chan! She's the Founder and CEO of FitIn.
FcF: Tell us about yourself.
Catherine: I graduated with a Master's Degree in Latin (Classics) from the University of Western Ontario. It was a huge part of how I think now - as an interdisciplinary course of study, it forces you to consider a wide variety of factors in arriving at your conclusions.
FitIn reflects that - I looked at all the problems out there on the customer and business sides and spent a lot of time figuring out the best course of action and the best model for the business.
I considered factors beyond growth, profit, and economics - by looking at social trends, adjacent industries and challenges within our national communities, it helps to clearly define the possibilities of a platform like FitIn.
My first job out of school was working for the PR department at GE Canada. I got to organize golf tournaments and produce a corporate promotional video. It was a very fun first job to have! (Luckily I knew how to golf.)
FcF: What is FitIn?
Catherine: FitIn is a fitness platform connecting people with activities, fitness classes and personal trainers in MINUTES, not hours.
We support fitness entrepreneurs with the tools they need to focus on training their clients, rather than having to also be a marketer, accountant, and administrator.
Our goal is to be Canada's largest booking resource for fitness classes and personal trainers and to be a champion for both physical and mental health.
FcF: How did you come up with FitIn?
Catherine: Personal pain point! It took me 3 hours to find 3 yin yoga classes: near home, near work and also my friend's place. I was frustrated that there was no "Trip Advisor" for the fitness industry where I could source all my options in one spot AND read reviews for them. I didn't want to have to search all over the internet for the information, it takes far too much time.
FcF: You mentioned that you just found a CTO not too long ago. How did you find your CTO?
Catherine: At one of the breakout workshops at the Takeover Innovation Conference last year, I met a great guy who was willing to help me find a new developer and give me some advice on how to move forward. A year later, he's still an incredibly good source of info, and really has the vision for where FitIn could go, from a technical standpoint.
As a bootstrapped startup, of course, I can't afford a full-time CTO, but he was very generously willing to step into a fractional role for me. As a non-technical founder, it's such a relief to be able to trust someone to help make those decisions.
FcF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
1) I started reading up on competitors (direct and indirect) and why they don't work.
2) Next I started working my way through a business plan, and attended meetups and events to answer the questions I didn't have the answer to yet.
3) I started doing customer interviews with both the business AND the customer side of the platform to make sure that I was building something people want (as Y Combinator advocates)...and to make sure that I was fully aware of all the challenges and problems that needed to be solved.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Catherine: Definitely try to have a cofounder so you have someone to split the work up with, brainstorm with, and cry with when you're not celebrating with them. Failing that, find your tribe and be there for each other!
I'm very lucky that I got connected with some great groups, such as CanWCC, femmebought and WerkTO. I've met some incredible female founders through them, who lift me up when I'm stumbling and who cheer me on when I'm killing it. Plus it feels great to be able to do the same for them.
FcF: Is there anything you would like the Female CoFounder community to help you with?
Catherine: My call to action is to have everyone sign up for a free account on FitIn.io! I have something for everyone and we're adding more classes all the time.
I would also love to be introduced to any mental health organizations, personal trainers or fitness startups that they have a connection to.
We have a really great blog, so for anyone who is looking for information, education and inspiration regarding mental health or physical health (including not just exercise, but nutrition and healthy habits), we're a great resource for you. Check out the blog here!
FcF: How can people connect with you?