How Alessandra Gotbaum is reimagining the future of at home fitness with Ergatta – one row at a time

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Meet Alessandra Gotbaum, co-founder of Ergatta, the motivating, personalized at-home fitness rowing machine. Read on to find out how Alessandra is disrupting the traditional instructor based at home workouts, how the pandemic actually helped her business, and why investing in quality is essential- even if at first it seems more expensive.

Describe your business in a few words?

Ergatta is creating the future of digital fitness by reimagining it beyond the instructor-led class. By putting personalization, competition, and games at the core of our experience, our connected rowing machine delivers a motivating and entertaining workout, and drives habit-forming fitness behavior over time.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

We did a LOT of research before starting Ergatta to validate that there was a compelling and exciting opportunity in the market (enough for my own conviction). I took the leap and quit my job to join full-time when we received two signals of external validation: we secured a partnership agreement with our manufacturer and distributor, followed by our first seed investment.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Prior to co-founding Ergatta, I spent nearly a decade at the marketing technology company, MediaMath, where I led cross-functional teams to drive digital marketing strategy for global brands.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I think so. I dabbled with entrepreneurship in college. My early experience and growth at MediaMath (which was still a start-up when I joined) confirmed my appetite. My co-founders (Tom Aulet & Prasanna Swaminathan, who were colleagues of mine) and I had talked about starting a company for about five years before we finally laid the groundwork for what is now Ergatta.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

We actually launched during the early days of the pandemic (March 24th, 2020), which ended up being pretty fortuitous timing. Our initial marketing strategy focused on press and paid social. The effects of the pandemic actually helped that a lot: people began seeking new ways in which to exercise from their homes, so they were actively searching for at-home fitness equipment and discovering Ergatta. Media publications were also excited to feature us, since at-home fitness was a trending and timely topic.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

Many of the mistakes I’ve made have been around delegation (or specifically, a lack thereof). When I’ve tried to control too much it often resulted in me being my own blocker and limited my ability to execute efficiently. It’s important to empower your team so both they and you are set up for success.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Our community feedback has been the most rewarding accomplishment. It’s incredibly meaningful that we’ve created a product that has had such a profound impact on people’s lives and well being, especially amid a pandemic.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

“What excites you about this opportunity?” As a start-up, it’s essential to bring on people that are passionate about the mission.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 has had a major impact on the fitness space. The increase in time spent at home has only accelerated the trend towards consumers seeking out innovative home workout equipment and software. We’ve seen that users are increasingly open to investing in fitness solutions to create healthy at home routines that benefit both their physical and mental health.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We’re approaching another period of rapid growth at Ergatta. We’re focused on growing both our team and community, and accelerating the development of our fitness gaming content to bring new and exciting features and experiences to our members.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Support your local community!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

When we first started Ergatta, we opted to use more affordable vendors for certain critical business needs – specifically, the development of our brand identity, incorporation and foundational legal services, and website development. We chose to be frugal at the expense of getting quality services, and ultimately found ourselves having to re-invest in all three of these areas just a couple of months later. We would have saved time and money by not skimping on these important investments initially.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Honestly, my love of the work that I’m doing has kept me grounded throughout the year. I’ve been so busy and focused on growing this company that the time has quite literally flown by.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Oh definitely. I find that taking just a day or two off for a long weekend gives my mind and body the time they need to properly reset. It’s important to realize what specifically helps you to re-energize and avoid burnout.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t have a driver’s license… (I’m a New Yorker!).

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Getting a workout in (with Ergatta!)
  • Taking time to catch up on the news. 
  • Coffee.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Making things happen. Being a bold and confident leader, while being a practical and scrappy team player.

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