For many people, the pandemic was an opportunity to figure out what you really wanted to do and either start or plan how to do it. This was no different for Martin and Carrie Froggett, co-founders and owners of the Frog Project, an online yoga studio and community-based in the UK. Familiar with the dedication, hard work, and structure of teaching educational and yoga classes, Martin and Carrie embarked on a journey to launch the business they had always dreamed of. Now with several teachers and customers spread all over the globe, Martin and Carrie are looking to the future and how they can grow their business and community to be able to offer as Martin says, "good, classic yoga."
We sat with Martin to learn about his process of launching an online yoga business during a global pandemic and how having the right studio management software helped make it possible. Martin also shared the rigorous framework he established for the business to make it as successful as it is today, including finding the ideal teachers and clientele. Check out our interview below to hear what he had to say and to learn more about his experience as an online yoga business owner.
I'm Martin and I am the co-founder of the Frog Project, a yoga company based in Scarborough, England. We launched just over a year ago with my wife teaching our classes alongside our other teachers. I run the technical side of the business. We offer classes, courses, and courses for yoga teachers, all completely online.
Why did you decide to launch an online yoga business?
My wife and I have travelled all over the world working in education and we've worked a lot doing online courses and conferences. She has been teaching yoga for years face to face and when the pandemic hit it pushed us to do what we've been saying we were going to do for a while now which was create an online yoga business. We decided to make a real go at it and we transitioned online and had some help from our local studio. We marketed online and expanded where and to who we market to and it grew and grew and turned into an exciting business.
How did your experience as educators help you as business owners?
We came up with a competency framework of what makes a really good yoga teacher. When you are teaching online you don't have the ability to be hands-on and make adjustments. We really focused on the language of instruction and what the teacher is saying and the ability to follow. We didn't want our teachers or students to focus too much on the lack of hands-on, and we wanted to make it easy for them to follow. We made a model of what makes a really good online yoga class and we've worked with the teachers who we've recruited to get them all on board with that.
We want anyone who takes our classes to have the same experience and to know they are taking our classes. We want them to have a similar feel and be of the same quality so that anybody can pick the classes and familiarise themselves with the business and get a lot out of it. We worked really hard to bring those qualities into the teaching.
How did finding teachers to join you fit into your business framework?
When we started we knew we wanted the teachers to be able to share our philosophy and way of practising yoga and teaching. We posted in various yoga forums that we were looking for teachers and put together a process for teachers to get in contact with us, say who they were, and why they were interested. We really looked for personality and a huge thing we didn't want was competitiveness.
Yoga is a really competitive space and I think a lot of teachers are forced into doing something different or having a particular kind of yoga and you end up having all of these strange identifies from teachers trying to be so different from other teachers. We really wanted people to feel like a part of the team. Working together as opposed to finding their own niche. It's a bit counter-cultural in the industry so we wanted to create yoga jobs, not just pay yoga teachers to teach in our studio.
We provide our teachers will full-time jobs. We have a teacher in Canada, a teacher in Libya, a teacher in Kosovo, and two in the UK. We're not just a platform for people to come and do their yoga. We're a studio and we really wanted to have a standard and be a fantastic business. We've been very rigorous about it and the people we have onboard are amazing. We've been really invested from the beginning.
What kinds of marketing strategies have you implemented to grow your online business?
We focus on targeting locally to local demographics and then broadening the area. People who know us from face to face classes and word of mouth have helped. We worked really hard to build fans, people who really love us, the classes, the teachers, and the product. We have increased that to broader geographies and we are going to promote more in terms of America, but we're still figuring that out and learning how to run a business and the learning curve that comes with it.
Did you have as to who your ideal client would be as you did your teachers and business?
We've been really clear about what we're not looking for and who we are. Some of our language is quite strong and may even offend, and we're not trying to offend, but we're clear about who we are. Most of our audience is all older women. The vast majority of our clients are people with arthritis or problems with their hips. We're not targeting 20-somethings who want to look great. That's not our priority and that's ok. People are on different journeys and they want different things. At this time, we're just focusing on good, classic yoga. One of our lines is no bells no whistles, just yoga stripped down.
At what point did you introduce TeamUp's studio management software into your business?
We spent a lot of time researching software in the beginning. We wanted a platform that would grow and scale with us. Here are the reasons we chose TeamUp:
Scaled with our business
TeamUp is a really good example of that because no matter whether we'd have 20 customers or 1,000 TeamUp could manage that. We worked really hard to build our stack of different tools that would allow us to scale.
Zoom and online class features
When we started we were looking for a platform to go online. There are lots of different booking options and we chose TeamUp because of how quickly they integrated with Zoom. The integration sends out individual links through Zoom and people can click on that link and once they enter the Zoom meeting they are marked as attended. It was a really cool feature and something that was really invaluable to use as a new business. TeamUp has been great and done everything we wanted to do. I've been using Zoom for years, I've done conferences with 4,000 attendees on zoom. it's just brilliant.
All around flexibility
TeamUp stood out because of the flexibility in the back end, with classes, memberships, discounts, vouchers, email notifications, and different features and it really is so powerful and complete. ,
Excellent customer support
The customer support has been good through Intercom. The team responds quickly to any question and if they don't know the answer they'll escalate it quickly which really helps. I get answers from the developers on what we need and it's great.
What are your future plans for the Frog Project post-pandemic?
We are working on launching our own web app and community space and forum. We want to work to bring the community together. We'll stick to online live classes. We offer 1 hour online classes live and that's what we want to focus on at the moment. There is a lot of great on-demand yoga content out there and it's brilliant but we don't want to compete with that or be that. There's no substitute for being online and in the same space as people. That interaction with other people, even though it's virtual it's still energetic and there is a commitment to putting it on your calendar and going to the class.
What is your advice for other yoga businesses investigating software?
I'd definitely recommend TeamUp to other yoga businesses. It will handle all of your online and offline classes. The pricing structure is really good and it will increase as you grow. It will match all of your needs, I'm sure.
Thanks for sharing, Martin!
Thanks for reading!