March, 9th 2015 – 12:33 pm
Mark Kenna wrote me:
“Hey Eduardo, how are you doing my friend? How would you like to be a contributor for ‘Freeletics World’? We’re looking for contributors from each territory and I think with your knowledge of sports, nutrition, extreme challenges and attention to detail on the data side, you would be a great addition to what we’re trying to do here at Freeletics World. CONNECTING FREE ATHLETES AROUND THE WORLD!”
Freeletics World was launched a couple of days before I got this message. Mark explained me what this was about and the people involved. I was thrilled as I was very engaged at the moment with Freeletics. So it all started. We had a first conference call the next days where we all introduced ourselves. Ryan Mathie and Richard Kouta were the co-founders of Freeletics World. They were by then leading the Freeletics London group. Ryan, a natural communicator, experienced on coaching people was both pragmatic and passionate. He was leading the group. Richard was the perfect team player. He was very excited about the project. He worked as head hunter. In the same conference call I was introduced to Nick Day, a power contributor with super knowledge about sports and nutrition, an Ironman, ex-football player and as Richard he was a head hunter himself. Mark was probably the most excited of all. That was and is his nature. Not only about Freeletics World or even Freeletics but… everything. He had a contagious energy, super positive. Geoffrey Gordon from South Africa, was also introduced to the team the same day. He was apparently the tech guy that could move things in the website, databases, etc. He was also into Freeletics. Then me. Passionate by all sport perspectives from practicing, coaching and managing. Graduation in economics and management gave me the maths drive, the love for numbers. Let’s say we had an inspiring team to start the project…Freeletics World.
Freeletics World co-founders had a great idea. When I arrived I met a Global Map where anyone training Freeletics could sign in. This was a very nice way to connect athletes all over the world. Imagine someone travelling to another place and meeting athletes he found in the map – great. But we had many bugs. Unfortunately our tech guy, Geoffrey, stoped being responsive after the first conference call. We were hoping he would help us a bit with his digital skills but no luck. After Geoffrey many others came and left, all lacking engagement. Strange…
As I came aboard I started the challenges. They started as weeklies. I would define a challenge each week by offering 3 possibilities so the athletes could choose one. They would need to complete the present challenge before next challenge was launched. Quickly we reached a large number of athletes.
Me and Mark we took care of the designs for the Challenges and for the Inspired Athletes cards. Here athletes would nominate the athlete that inspired him the most. This athlete would be featured in our posts and would nominate the next one. It was nice.
By now Richard and Ryan shared between them the ownership of the company Free Athlete Ltd (aka Freeletics World), based in London. After a while Ryan announced the rest of the contributors would be offered a small share as we were part of the team. So Richard and Ryan would have 25% each, while the other members would share the other 50%.
Then the Aphrodite Challenge arrived, a BIG BANG in the Freeletics community. That was really something. Credits go to Mark. Mark edited a super video with many athletes from many parts of the world doing… Aphrodite. The music from Two Steps from Hell was top and Mark edited in a way that the music was perfectly connected to the video. Worth seeing!! That video promoted Freeletics World and Freeletics. It reached people that were never connected to Freeletics and came to meet the app due to this. Many thousands performed Aphrodite when it was 10 am in their countries, so for 24 hours all Time Zones of the planet were covered. Amazing!!! This was April, 25th 2015.
The monthly Challenges
Since a while ago I was developing a training program based on constant progress and allowing me to remotely coach any athlete as if I was next to him. How could I control the effort, exclude exogenous factors when I was not near the athlete? That was possible with pacing. After the Aphrodite Challenge the timing was perfect. So, I chose a Freeletics star – the workout named Dione. Exercises covered in Dione were exhaustively trained. So, we had around 150 athletes signing in. I introduced them Maelz App. Basically Maelz was a pacer. I would calculate the paces for each athlete and apply the UNBROKEN method. Under this method athletes progress faster than they realize. The constant daily benefits are higher than the increase of the pace speed, compensating it. The body would not recognize the small increase on speed, but instead it would become faster and faster, on a daily basis. Everybody loved to report “U” for unbroken. In the end of the month the improvements in Dione were so huge that the method became quite famous and respected. Freeletics World team had been absent from this challenge. By the end of the challenge I guess the whole team realized that there was something there, worth enough. After this challenge many other challenges came, with increasing number of athletes. Anyway that first challenge was in my opinion the first real Goliaz Training Group. I met many athletes that since then are my friends and engaged with Goliaz. Many of them are leading country groups, GTGs or directly supporting the Goliaz Community.
The Girl from Argentina
During Dione challenge reporting was kind of “middle age”. It was a big big struggle as I had to collect manually all data, many figures, list them, math them, and transform the result in duties for the next day. All customized. That girl from Argentina was aware of the insane loads of work and she offered her help. She also translated to Spanish so the athletes from Spanish language countries could follow the duties easier. She was super passionate about the challenges, about giving back, helping others. She is still doing it today. Say hi to Ceci…
With the increasing notoriety of the Freeletics World monthly challenges Freeletics reacted. Without notice my personal account in Freeletics was banned. Same for Freeletics World account. I was so surprised as we were official partners. Since some months I had been promoting Freeletics everywhere, I had a great connection to their App and community. So why? I demanded an explanation from Freeletics. That explanation eventually came. According to Freeletics, the monthly challenges were bad for Freeletics business as they were being offered for free. They stated that business needs suggested that the challenges and Freeletics World no longer would be supported by Freeletics. I was very surprised that I did not even get a message before the ban happened. After some time I got from them an email “thank for all you did for Freeletics”. And I could rest in peace… or not. The challenges could not die. But we could not keep using Freeletics in our brand name. A complete change was needed.
The Birth of Goliaz
It was late night and I was inside my car, parked somewhere. I was emerged in some kind of self brainstorm activitity – a new brand name was needed. In the designs of the already created workouts the imaginarium was the Universe. Same as in the Challenges. The motto was “Go Beyond”, winning by some margin to Freeletics World first motto “Together We Are Stronger”. So, what did I have? The “Universe” and “Go Beyond”. That led me to the need of a big name, a strong one. Galactus crossed my mind. Many others too. Then I though of Troy, Greece, Egipt , any old empire, inspiring battles… And suddenly it came… Golias. Hmm no, lets put a Z there – the fashion “Z”. Goliaz!!! I started trembling. I was nervous. Was this name “free”?? Is there a website “Goliaz.com”? No, perfect. Now let’s check the availability of the word mark. And BINGO, it was free too. I felt like singing full songs with the “Goliaz” word as only lyrics. The more I did it the more I was engaged with the name. It was perfect. Goliath was the BIG guy, the strongest. Ok, David threw him a small stone and he died. But that didn’t matter – Goliath was the strongest man on earth. And so would Goliaz be. I called the ex Freeletics World team and told them the news. This was “news”, not “let’s think about it”. No other name would be as good or better than this. Goliaz!!! A new brand was created. That same day I started editing the new brand approach, the colour schemes, the typefaces, etc… Nick Day had a super idea. Moons. Let’s use the phases of the moon. It was at first a big logo, many phases. After reducing it to just 3…wow. Amazing! I was totally in love with the name, the visual communication, the logo, the total approach. Let’s move on…
Well, Geoffrey, the south African, left Freeletics World without saying good bye in the early days. After some time also Mark Kenna left. With the ban from Freeletics it urged the need to see who was totally committed in the success of the project. And therefore the question “Are you 100% IN” was put to all team members… Mark was at a very sensible moment of his life. He is a film producer and by then he was so much more focused in his dream – making movies. And his answer was that he should focus more on the movies and his dreams. For him Freeletics World / Goliaz was something he was very passionate for but just a hobby. We were then reduced to 4 members. In September 2015 we had the opportunity to meet in London. I had already met Richard in the Algarve during summer but I had never met the other members personally. A new element was invited by me – Matthias Dieke. Matthias did the first challenges and he got addicted. He defended that he was doing Freeletics for nearly one year but still in one month he progressed more than in the whole Freeletics time. He came to talk to me and offered his skills. He was a talented project manager with great computing skills. By then our “web” approach was already much better – Marco Córdoba, a talented developer from Chile prepared the database structure and web interface that was being used in the challenges. But Matthias and his passion would be the perfect match for the team. In London we would discuss 2 things: the creation of the Goliaz App and the new structure of the Goliaz team. And so we did…
We met at Nick’s in St. Alban, London. Finally the whole team was together. The excuse was a 30 kilometres OCR that we would do together. Before London I had a sketch of a simple app. It would be the Goliaz Pace Optimizer. It would pace the exercises like we were already doing by using the Maelz App, but also the Workouts. How awesome would it be to pace a workout with different exercises and therefore different paces? I was in love with the idea of having such an app, even for my own training. Amazing!! But this needed workouts, creation and inspiration. In London I already had the plan for a more complex and complete app. I had it all figured out and I was not willing to give up on any of my ideas. So, before London the possibility of Goliaz being a brand managed by me inside whatever Free Athlete Ltd would be doing was an option. But soon my partners decided to go along with the plan, this app would be the main focus of Free Athlete, Ltd.
As I said I needed it to be under my directions and following my strict vision. So, I required the majority of shares of Free Athlete Ltd. It would guarantee that the vision, the final decision for anything would be mine. It was my dream, my baby and I needed full control over it. By now my partners weren’t also very engaged with tasks while this was my 24/7 occupation. So this was my first demand. The second was that Matthias would become part of the team too. So, a big gentlemen discussion went through. How would the split of shares be made? In the end I had my request fulfilled, Matthias was in and we could move on. We shook hands and I remember whispering to Ryan in a hug: “Let’s do this!!”
Ryan and Nick out
Ryan was never really convinced about the new split. It is understandable. He also often questioned my leadership. We had some divergences along the way. In short, Ryan stated that we should have immediate profit while I always believed that we should focus in reaching a wider audience, keeping all Goliaz services free. I wanted Goliaz to be known worldwide, to reach more and more athletes. Ryan was very upset that I did not accept these and other ideas, and being not so happy with the new split of shares he left saying we could no longer work together. Overall he deserves the credit for starting the whole process with Freeletics World. We reached an agreement and he left. As far as I know he is successful, he got a Personal Trainer diploma and is moving on.
At the same moment but due to totally different reasons Nick also left. I found in Nick an extraordinary character, talented, honest and focused. At that time he was dealing with professional challenges that he had chase for long. Nick stated that he was close to reach them and therefore he should not stay in Goliaz. His greater commitment was with his personal projects and staying would not be fair to Goliaz.
So, after a while we were reduced to just 3 – me, Richard and Matthias. Richard remained as the company secretary.
The Transformation Projects
During this period 2 transformation projects took part. The most impressive was SUPER YOU where 150 athletes started testing the App algorithms. Many adaptations happened due to this extraordinary group feedback. Nutrition plans were directly linked to the workload. All was dynamic. The athletes defined their goals and got both the nutritional and workload plans optimized. In the end we were a happy family, already eager to see all we tested inside a smartphone.
With the leave of Ryan and Nick we decided to bring 2 ladies in: the all-time supporter Ceci and Denise Bernard. Denise was by then translating Goliaz texts to German, as well as supporting the German speaking community. Together with Matthias (on the database / reporting) the Goliaz webpage was renewed. Jens Rossa also came aboard – he was developer and offered his skills so we could finally develop the app. Jens was a bit strange sometimes but he had the skills and the motivation. This was late 2015. Our plan: Matthias would do the backend part while Jens would be in charge of IOS and ANDROID. This never worked. Matthias was not interacting with Jens the way it was supposed and this plan collapsed by March 2016. Additionally many problems within the team did not help so almost simultaneously Matthias, Jens and Denise left. So there we were reduced to 3: me, Richard and Ceci.
Richard and the Shop
By now Richard took care of the online shop. Ceci was always by my side helping in any way she could. By then I realized that I could no longer be the “guy everywhere”. The amount of messages, emails and all kind of requests was insane. I needed some filtering. Ceci was there helping me so my life could be a bit easier. I still had to create the challenges and focus on the app plan so due to her support I could have more time for creation. The shop was ok, not lovely but ok. Products and sales were taken care by Richard. He had the work with the shop but he was also the one collecting the results. This made no sense to me. We also had a divergence with the splitting of our shares. I could not agree with the new split though that split was confirmed. It became obvious to me that such a company could not be managed remotely and that made me feel very uncomfortable. I tried to solve things with Richard peacefully but instead this led to severe problems. Ultimately all was sorted, I agreed with Richards terms and he resigned.
Goliaz, Portugal and the App
It was September 2016 when Goliaz Lda. was finally created in Portugal. The plan for the app was complete too. All algorithms (some of them tested during the transformation projects) were now perfect and in place. The app prototype was also complete. Funny as Goliaz helped me to improve my designing skills… So, late September a document with nearly 200 pages, filled with algorithms, and an app mockup was given to a Portuguese Developing company. The app finally would be a reality. It is a very complex app, covering all corners of Goliaz and more. By now testing is already happening – in fact I am training using the app. In a couple of days a group of beta testers will follow. In general I am very proud of the road so far. I am happy that the app had the time to mature – if it was made 1 year ago it would not be perfect. Now it will. Jan/Feb Utracore challenge was the last challenge outside the app. From now on all will be managed from within the app, easier and more practical.
So this is the road so far. Future is bright, exciting times. This will be our MOMENT OF GLORY, mine and yours. Take care my friends, see you soon…