Blake Beltram’s business journey with MINDBODY dates back almost 20 years. Mirroring the rags to riches story of many a successful entrepreneur, having kickstarted the garage-run startup, Beltram’s Co-Founder Rick Stollmeyer took hold of the reigns to grow the now leading provider of business management software for the wellness industry, into a $182.6m publicly traded company.
Having forged and cultivated relationships with over 50,000 wellness operators globally, including Pure Barre, Barry’s Bootcamp, F45, DryBar and Equinox, the innovative company continues to connect millions of people to wellness brands around the world, playing a key role in boosting the growth of the industry.
Not content with providing studio owners with the capabilities and resources to allow them to grow their businesses, in recent times MINDBODY has doubled down on making fitness classes easier to discover by connecting millions of consumers to nearby studios via its mobile app, and a groundbreaking partnership with Google which displays classes and services at MINDBODY client studios in search and map results.
For Beltram, who rejoined the company in 2013 following a ten-year gap, his current role as MINDBODY Evangelist keeps him on his toes. With a goal to transform MINDBODY into a household name, 2018 is shaping up to be another trailblazing year for the business.
Bold; a three-day conference bringing together business owners in the wellness, fitness and beauty industries to share what works in growing a business, will feature the likes of Billie Jean King and Michelle Obama. Meanwhile, the growth of the MINDBODY App continues to demonstrate the exponential demand that exists in the consumer space for boutique wellness offerings.
With that in mind, here Beltram sits down with Welltodo to share his unique vision, why authentic business relationships matter, and what it really means to be a MINDBODY evangelist.
On using gut instinct as a business tool……
When I first started I knew nothing about programming and very little about business. I wasn’t burdened with knowledge or experience. If I was, there’s a good chance I would not have done what I did, so I guess I had the blessing of naivety.
For me, it was really something that I felt I was called into. I’d hit a point in my life where it wasn’t working out the way I thought it was going to and I was pretty unhappy. I decided to adopt a personal mantra that went: ‘show me the way and I will follow’. I was really looking for universal guidance, and when this opportunity presented itself I felt intuitively that this was the way I was supposed to follow. So it was really unconventional.
I was never the person that sat down with the intention of starting a global tech company. I was someone who was essentially following the path that I felt pulled towards, so there really wasn’t a tremendous amount of fear for me in that. In fact, there was a certain amount of joy that came with throwing myself into it.
On building authentic business relationships……
In the first year or two, it wasn’t so much that people believed in the software because it was very rudimentary. It was that they believed in me, and that really came through forming relationships with the people I interacted with.
I love our clients and have always felt very connected to them. I feel like our clients are my tribe, so it was really easy and effortless for me to connect with them and form a personal bond.
When Rick and I partnered and started to become a little more official, the software started to take off, and word of mouth really helped. It started to hit a tipping point when it got to about 200 clients, then when it got to 300, 400, 500 it felt like we really had a formula, and it became a little bit easier to sell.
There also wasn’t a ton of competition back then. We really needed to get clients to believe in the software and in us, but we didn’t need to worry about them comparing us to someone down the street — that came later.
On choosing love over fear……
Throughout the business journey, there have been lots of moments where we felt like at any given time we could be a month away from going out of business. But what I’ve learnt is that failure is an integral part of success. You don’t either fail or succeed, you fail or you’re faced with failure and the way that you handle that determines whether you eventually succeed.
It comes down to love or fear. In any given moment we have the opportunity to make a choice, and you have to know that your life is much bigger than the success or failure of a business. As important as it is — and it feels in the moment that it’s everything — you have to have a deeper place to drop back to. You have to be fearless in the sense that life will go on and you’ll be okay regardless of what happens.
For me, I have to have faith that the very best outcome is assured and if that’s success in this particular business then that’s great, but if it’s not I have to know that that’s okay too. I can’t hold it with such a tight grip that it feels like my identity or sense of who I am is on the line because it’s not. If I think that it is then my ego and mind have taken control of me and that’s almost assuredly going to spell failure in some regards.
On the importance of understanding your mission……
I always ask the why question and I think everyone should. If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing then I don’t know how you can lead much of a healthy, happy life. So part of what we do to ensure that as a company, and there’s only so much you can do — as the saying goes you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink — is to embed it into our core values.
Purpose driven is our first value and continuously evolving is our last value, with the rest of the core values intentionally sandwiched in between them. When we invite people to work for us, we constantly ask and have them answer the questions ‘why am I here?’, ‘is this fulfilling for me?’ and ‘how can I evolve and potentially become a little bit better than I was yesterday?’
On coming back to MINDBODY after a ten-year gap……
Coming back to a company I’d started after a ten-year gap was almost an indescribable experience. I’d liken it to being in a coma for ten years and then coming out of it and everything has changed. Everything was bigger and grander!
When Rick asked me to come back, he talked about how in the early days I used to go on and on about something that I called the hub of hubs. What that meant to me was that we were positioning ourselves as the hub of these small businesses around the globe that were also hubs in their communities. I felt that to be the connecting point for these businesses around the world had a real power to it and could really change the world. What that has led into since I’ve come back is the creation of MINDBODY One.
MINDBODY One is a community we have built for our customers. It’s a peer community that involves everything from local meetups to regional events, but primarily it’s an online community. We have over 7000 customers in the online community. MINDBODY isn’t a part of that, and that’s by design because we wanted to create something where our customers could connect with each other, support each other and synergise. When we put them together a real magic happens.
By having a front row seat in this boutique fitness industry over the past 20 years, two of the things I’ve seen is that our customers tend to feel overwhelmed and tend to feel alone. There hasn’t really been a community of people like them that really understood them and were really in their tribe, so MINDBODY One created a container for them to come together and support each other.
I expect tens of thousands of members in there within the next year or two, and it’s the realisation of that dream I had of being the hub of hubs and connecting these people around the planet that are doing amazing things.
On adding value to the boutique fitness industry……
Our fate is completely intertwined with the fate of our customers. There is no us/them in our industry, it’s we and we only succeed when our customers succeed. It’s very important to us that we bring value to the people we serve and that we help them to run a more efficient business and earn more money. It excites us to see them succeed anyway, but it’s just good business.
We see our futures as being inextricably intertwined together, we consider us to be in the same boat as our customers, so we do everything we can to support them.
On tapping into the consumer market with the MINDBODY app……
A lot of our emphasis now is on becoming a more recognisable consumer brand. A lot of the reason for that is we want to help bring more money into our customer’s businesses, and we can do that by continuing to build out a network of people that are participating in health and wellness services.
By bringing consumers together through the MINDBODY app and giving them an app where they can manage their health and wellness lifestyle all in one place, we’re bringing more consumers into that fold. We’re giving them easier access to our clients’ businesses and so by doing that we feel that we can help raise the tide for all of our customers.
That’s really a large part of one of our primary focuses right now. We want people when they think about taking a yoga class or a fitness class or about going to get a massage to think about the MINDBODY app.
On cultivating a forward-thinking perspective……
I think sometimes you have to go down a dead-end road to figure out it doesn’t go through so that you can turn back around and get on the right track. I guess I think about it this way, if I had to do it again I wouldn’t do anything differently, but if I got to do it again in the future, I would do it a different way.
I always try to learn from things and keep moving forward.
On opportunities in the wellness industry……
The two things that jump to mind immediately to me are mindfulness — I heard a spiritual teacher say a while back that our outer developments have far surpassed our inner developments and I think that’s a real problem. We’re spending less and less time dropping into presence and mindfulness and so I’m seeing meditation businesses starting to take off and I think it’s really ripe for growth on the boutique level.
The second area would be corporate wellness. Rick published an open letter in the New York Times earlier this year challenging CEOs and Presidents of companies to do a better job of taking care of their employees, and I think that really enhancing corporate wellness in the world is a huge opportunity.
When companies really, genuinely start investing in the health and wellness of the people that work for them we could really see this industry take off in some phenomenal ways. I actually think corporate wellness could be one of the secrets to not only enhancing the industry but making the world a better place.
On maintaining a sustainable boutique operation……
The number one thing boutique operators need to do is to stay intimately connected to the needs of their customers, which is true of any business — you have to really stay tuned in because it’s always changing.
You really have to be a savvy business person to succeed in the wellness industry these days. It’s not like it was when we first got started. Back then you could run an average business in an average neighbourhood and make a pretty decent living out of it, but those days are gone. Now there’s potential competition all up and down the street, so you have to really be savvy.
That means being tuned into technology, it means being good at marketing, it means really being on your toes when it comes to every aspect of the business. You have to be a savvy business person now to be a successful wellness business owner, so if you’re not savvy you’d better find and hire somebody that is.