Sport and competition always made him anxious at school, in high school he made his mother write him notes to get out of PE. From passionately hating sport in his teen years to becoming a leader in the fitness space by the age of 23, Brisbane based entrepreneur Jack East set about changing the way health and fitness was taught to children resulting in an exciting venture that now has the biggest gym chains in the country frothing at the mouth for a piece of the action.
I wasn’t really expecting a conversation with someone that has a business which is all about being fit and healthy to start off by telling me they hated sport at school, it was interesting to hear Jack’s take on his child hood years, the anxiety he felt, the dislike for competition and the fact that he spent most of his school years not really competing at all.
Jack East is the founder of Eastkids. An innovative fitness program aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. The program started out focusing on the after school care market, and after many knock backs finally got into two schools to prove the concept, word got out and the AASC and State Government helped contribute to massive growth of the program in the first year of business by partnering with the startup to roll out the after school programs created, to over 100 schools.
Whilst this growth was fantastic, and East had built himself a great business [in less than 12 months] that had 25 instructors working across the schools with him, restrictions around the scheme, also meant restrictions of what he was able to charge to the participating schools, capping the profitability of Eastkids.
With the schools based revenue stream running smoothly, and the commitment of partnering with the scheme again in 2013, East has set about on a pivot with a focus on the gym industry. He has developed one of the first programs in Australia catering for a younger age group where they can enjoy a fun, engaged, physical program at the gym at the same time a parent may be there to go and work out.
Just signing on his first gym chain of 5 locations with Go Health Clubs, is his most recent accolade. East seems to have a [ironically] competitive approach to business, with little experience under his belt and growing at a rate that even a seasoned pro would possibly struggle with, he tells me that he is thinking about bringing on investment for the venture, not for the cash necessarily but for the smart money that someone who has been immersed in his industry would bring to the table. It was at this point you could really see the bigger vision East has.
In much the same way that other group fitness classes such as Zumba, Pilates etc before him have, Eastkids is about owning the kids fitness market, the future fun workout DVD’s and take home programs are obviously planned for a later phase of the business, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these blocks start falling into place around the start of 2014.
For the moment though he is busy putting proposals together for two major gym chains in the country that could see Eastkids operating within over 40 gyms before the end of Q2 this year.
As you know I have a soft spot for bootstrappers that work their guts out and when Jack recounts the challenges of working “shitty jobs he hated” and eating toast and cans of tuna to put everything he had into building the business, I really got a sense that finally this once upon a time drifter has found his purpose in life.