Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Victoria Repa, Founder and CEO of BetterMe, located in Kyiv, Ukraine.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
In 2017, I started BetterMe from a Facebook community where I shared advice on my weight loss journey. When the community reached 100K followers, I realized how popular the topic is. So I, along with a small team, developed BetterMe - the first app featuring personalized fitness and diet plans. At that time, our customers were predominantly women between 18-35 years old who wanted to lose weight.
Today, I am proud that BetterMe is a platform that promotes self-acceptance, self-love, and an active lifestyle without resorting to fad diets or unrealistic expectations. We have expanded our tools for better living by launching BetterMe: Health Coaching app, BetterMe: Mental Health app, and BetterMe Store with athleisure and hardware. Our platform now serves people of all ages, races, and physical or mental conditions who are looking for easy ways to live healthier and better. We believe that diversity and inclusion efforts are the most important priorities of our brand.
With BetterMe: Mental Health, our users get tailored day-to-day practices tailored to their individual needs throughout the day. With BetterMe: Health Coaching, users can build a healthy lifestyle whether they are seniors, pregnant women, people who use wheelchairs, etc. With BetterMe Store, we expanded our line of goods, launching the Dusty Shades activewear collection designed for different body types and inclusive size ranges that fit a broader spectrum of customers, ranging from XS to 3XL.
Moreover, we aim to highlight the beauty of diversity. Thus, in 2022, we released a number of projects on this issue. For example, for Black History Month 2022, we launched an Empowerment course for black people in collaboration with mental health and empowerment advocate Michelle Williams. The 7-day program includes powerful daily meditations, self-worth affirmations, and healing sessions created and narrated by mental health coaches and psychotherapists working in black communities globally. Moreover, the course is supported by Michelle Williams's personal experience in mental healing, as shared in her "Checking In" book, journal, and podcast.
Additionally, for Pride Month in June 2022, BetterMe Mental Health added a special project to unite people of different backgrounds, lifestyles, and mindsets and help them better understand each other. We prepared personal stories of both LGBTQ+ and straight communities and shared some expert advice on mental health and gender education. With the main focus on deep internal feelings, struggles, and experiences, psychologists offer insights into the nature of these emotions and practical tips to deal with them in a healthy way.
In the past year, we have enhanced our collection of training for seniors, such as Chair Yoga, Sofa Yoga, Stretching, etc. In BetterMe: Health Coaching app, users can find activities that help bring helpful movement to their lives, including those with arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other chronic illnesses.
Tell us about yourself
Working in a big tech company, I noticed an open niche in the health and fitness sphere: many people worldwide are struggling with being overweight and lacking motivation. So, I started BetterMe to cure, first of all, my personal pain because in my family, since my childhood, everyone has been overweight, and my mother, always from childhood, sadly said it's genetic. It's our family problem, and we can't overcome it. So actually, I cured my personal pain and created a solution for millions of people trying to live better.
In 2017, I started BetterMe with just three people on the team. Now BetterMe is a health and wellness platform that caters to over 150 million users by providing a tailored, bio-individual approach to fitness and well-being. The company has developed two supportive apps, BetterMe: Health Coaching and BetterMe: Mental Health. Also, BetterMe launched BetterMe Store with athleisure and wearables to improve users' experience, as well as to give them the motivation to reach their goals.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a business owner, one of the most significant goals I can set for myself is to improve the lives of the people we serve. This involves making a positive impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health by offering products and services that contribute to their health wellness; by making it, the company created a loyal customer base that trusts the brand and sees us as a valuable resource for their well-being. Overall, prioritizing the health and well-being of your customers can be a powerful way to differentiate your business and create a positive impact in the world. It can also be personally rewarding as you see the positive impact your efforts have on the lives of the people you serve.
For example, almost a year has passed since Russia invaded Ukraine and launched a full-scale war, the most destructive conflict Europe has seen since 1945. According to WHO, one in four Ukrainians is at potential risk of some form of mental disorder. To help Ukrainians, BetterMe, with expert support from WHO in Ukraine, the First Lady of Ukraine, and the NGO "Barrier Free," has developed a digital self-help tool, "Doing What Matters in Times of Stress." in BetterMe: Mental Health app. Thus the app has helped more than 260K Ukrainians deal with the psychological consequences of war.
From a more practical side, one of the biggest accomplishments as a business owner is to navigate the team and the whole company through turbulent times, such as the pandemic or the war in the country where the company is headquartered. For example, in 2022, BetterMe grew by 20% in both revenue and staffing; we launched new products, entered new markets, and did not plan to stop, so as well as maintaining the stability of the company, I also contributed to its growth.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Managing the risk of the unknown and the perseverance necessary for an entrepreneur is both hard to master. Ever since my school years, I was sure that I couldn't jump high or climb the rope, I was a chubby girl, and it was hard to believe in my ideas because of "learned helplessness" (psychological phenomenon, discovered by Martin Seligman). But at 27, I decided to overcome my limiting beliefs, and after a few months of regular exercise, I managed to do a full split. While practicing stretching, I scaled the company to 50-60M users worldwide because I tested every possible idea to solve their problems better, faster, and more efficiently. I accepted that if you are persistent enough, your plan B will work, or at least plan D or W.
At 28 years, I learned how to do headstands and one-leg bridges. Today I am CEO of BetterMe Health & wellness platform that caters to over 150 million users by providing a tailored, bio-individual approach to fitness and well-being. I have met many young entrepreneurs who gave up after their first failure. For me, it's crucial to assess things realistically before acting on them, applying just the right "filters" so you don't abandon your desired goal, even if you fail at the first 5-10 attempts.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I wish someone had told me to be persistent and confident, no matter what. It's good always to look ahead, not behind. I am interested in Eastern practices, and my favorite mantra is "Act and doesn't react," which never fails to ground me. It is also worth keeping in mind that change is inevitable, so you have to be flexible enough not to let it get you off track. The environment in which a product exists is constantly changing (in 2020, it was COVID; today, it's the war). It's important to remember your goals but stay flexible.
Where can people find you and your business?
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