Exo, the Airbnb version of indoor sports
The prospect of the Olympic Games in Paris is not only stimulating the imagination of athletes. The 2024 deadline also gives entrepreneurs ideas. “Holding the Olympic Games in Paris after a year and a half made us crazy” says Bérénice Marmonier, co-founder of Exo, a new platform dedicated to the sports experience. The former L’Équipe journalist left her post last summer to start a digital commerce niche with her young female companion, Bastien Lachambre, a former product manager at La Française des Jeux (FDJ). Their startup, Exo, has just joined the Parisian incubator Paris & Co, along with about fifteen young companies operating in the field of sports.
“Today, people are used to having everything immediately. Booking an exercise class should be as easy as a museum, movie or performance. »
The idea of the platform was born out of the frustration of the startups. “I have an autoimmune disease and was advised to do a little more exercise, like yogaBérénice Marmonier says. I said to myself one night ”I’ll try a session to see what it’s like.” And it turned out to be quite laborious as research. I said to myself : “There really isn’t a site like Airbnb where I can find activities for the next day without subscribing for a year.” “Launching in mid-December, Exo should fill this gap by allowing you to reserve an activity space based on your geographic location and your current desire without spending hours searching the internet for a suitable gym. .. “Today, people are used to having everything immediately. “Booking a gym class should be as easy as a museum, a movie or a play.”photo by Bastien Lachambre.
The platform also strives to adapt to changes in lifestyle and consumption. Thanks to the Echo, mobile workers can treat themselves to a boxing or climbing session, for example, when they’re away from their usual exercise spots. “Covid has changed everything, says the co-founder. Three or four years ago, people were all gym members. They didn’t mind going there for 30 euros a month. The rooms, the large number of people who did not come, suited them very well. But with Covid, where everyone finds themselves on their couch, tracking bank debits related to services they don’t use, a third of the French have stopped subscribing to rooms. » To win back this evaporated customer, the fitness industry has developed fee-for-service options, but many gyms are struggling to fill them. The founders of Echo therefore did not have much difficulty in convincing the people they studied.
“Although we want more affordable prices for users in the idea, we are not here to break the market. »
Currently, the activity of about 120 gyms in the Paris region is registered on the platform. It speaks a price for its customers and is rewarded thanks to a small commission. “While the idea is that we want more affordable prices for users, we’re not here to break the market.”, explains Bérénice Marmonier. The two entrepreneurs rely heavily on the “Tripadvisor effect” to grow their portfolio of cinemas. Restaurants on Tripadvisor, launched in 2000, are now approaching the reference platform. Several venues have already applied to join Exo.
Led by the new residents of Paris & Co, the project goes beyond a simple booking service. “Our goal is to show that there is a lot of fun in sports. You don’t need to go into a room to lift two centimeters from someone.”, developing Bérénice Marmonier. The platform allows you to highlight about thirty different subjects for the moment. Thanks to Echo, you can discover an authentic place to climb, for example the Climbing area of Saint-Lazare, a former church. You can also book a “Kangoo Jump” session in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne), a sport discipline that allows you to work on your cardio while wearing jumping boots.
In the future, Exo dreams of becoming a recommendation platform where athletes gather ideas for their next activities. But in order to become the main one, the start-up must change its scale and gradually establish itself in other cities. Its founders have so far been satisfied with minimal fundraising (around 150,000 euros), but they plan to meet with new investors soon to finance their development.