London-based startup Kuula has closed a pre-seed round to close the year. Leading the round is Seedcamp, together with Ascension, TruSight, Hambro Perks and Tiny VC. Several angel investors have also backed Kuula, including TheFund, Gumtree’s founder Michael Pennington and MixCloud’s founder Nikhil Shah.
“As a former yoga instructor, the foundation of the business is passion; Kuula is made by yoga and fitness teachers for their peers. Being so close to the industry as a team, we live and breath the concerns and aspirations of users and we understand their needs firsthand,” says CEO and co-founder Mariel Witmond.
“Our ultimate goal is to empower creators with all the tools they need, while maintaining their independence. Being backed by VCs and investors that have a strong background and experience in taking early-stage businesses to unicorn status and scaling ventures, as well as some being experts in the wellness industry, only made sense to us.”
Founded by Mariel Witmond and Jonathan Taylor in 2020, and set to launch fully in early 2021, Kuula has created a robust minimum viable product and is preparing to release the purpose-built, end-to-end platform that allows fitness and wellness instructors to easily create and manage their online presence, whilst engaging and growing their community.
In addition to the funding, Kuula unveils today a custom video player for an enhanced class experience for both teachers and students, live and pre-recorded. Kuula also streamlines admin taking the hassle out of scheduling, payments, subscriptions and customer relationship management, which are all tools that can be used directly from the platform, or integrated with personal member spaces and websites.
With the closing of this round, Kuula is focusing on the product roadmap, including the launch of its new streaming player, which will replace the use of Zoom, and together with website integrations for bigger teachers.
In just over 4 months since Kuula went from being a passion project to a well-rounded startup, the traction has helped validate the hypothesis that by building the right tools for the teachers, their students would follow. With now 4% of the UK’s yoga teachers and global network of active teachers from the US, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Japan and the Philippines, the knock-on effect and word of mouth have allowed Kuula to build a customer base at nearly no cost per acquisition.
Half of the Kuula team is made up of yoga teachers, some of whom took their practice online thanks to Kuula. The most recent hires include the consolidation of the Business Development with two new Sales & Marketing experts, as well as increasing the size of the tech team with engineers and Product specialists to translate the vision and teachers’ feedback into product features.
Currently, yoga teachers and fitness instructors are able to use the platform for free, which gives Kuula the possibility of contributing to help the sector during these difficult times, while gathering feedback on the product from all end users. The goal remains to democratise the sector, empowering teachers so that they can flip the industry standards on its head and earn higher margins than they would through studios or curated platforms, with the possibility of multiple revenue streams, as well as the opportunity of setting their own prices, discounts and offerings. Therefore, it is safe to say that Kuula’s pricing plans for professionals will be widely affordable and highly competitive.
In a constantly evolving wellness fitness landscape, which is forecasted to garner around $215+ billion by 2025 (GlobeNewsWire) and currently estimates over 250,000 teachers in the US and the UK, Kuula aims to onboard all the experts who have been offering their services online without finding a satisfying platform, as well as those who think they are not “techy” enough to. Kuula users include high profile teachers such as Richie Bostock, Kim Hartwell, and Ashley Ahrens. Kuula will announce exciting partnerships with corporate wellness programmes, charity entities and brand events in the near future.