Mystro is business management and scheduling software for health, wellness and fitness professionals. Mystro helps these businesses manage their bookings, schedule, invoices, resources, and much more. It simplifies the back office for the entrepreneur so that they can focus on their customers and running their business.
Year Founded: 2014
Founded by: Sheree Evans, Danielle McFarland, Luke Vear, and Bryce Hanscomb
1) Tell us a little about the inspiration for Mystro and how the solution helps your customers.
Sheree Evans and Danielle McFarland (Mystro’s co-founders) were driving through a tropical rainforest in Mount Tamborine, Australia, when they came up with the inspiration for Mystro. Sheree’s experience as a health professional in the massage industry and Danielle’s experience as a graphic and website designer/developer complemented each other and they were able to get started on Mystro right away.
Sheree understood the common pain points that business owners in the health, wellness and fitness industries faced. Managing multiple tools for CRM, accounting and scheduling systems added complexity and consumed timed that could be better used managing the business and serving their customer. Their goal was to not only provide a great automated mobile solution, but be able to provide the solution to the market at an affordable price.
Through feedback from businesses, Sheree and Danielle refined their platform and plan to continue to add features to simplify business management for their customers allowing them more time to grow their customer base.
2) You self-funded the business and took on two tech co-founders. Can you explain to us how you found the co-founders and how you knew they were the right co-founders for your business?
We came up with the idea of Mystro back in 2005 and spent 4 years trying to get the software to market. We went through 3 development companies and spent 3 years working with a single company to build our software, only to end up in legal battles where we had no choice but to walk away without a product and lost $80,000 in the process.
We threw away 4 years of hard work in the trash and started Mystro from complete scratch early 2014.
We were contemplating bringing on a co-founder who would have a vested interest in Mystro for some time. At that point, after going through what we did, we knew we needed someone with the technical skills to join our team and work with us to build the software and give Mystro another crack.
We put out feelers on various Facebook groups to find a developer and, within a few days, we were referred onto Luke Vear, a backend engineer. We checked out his LinkedIn profile and were interested to learn more so arranged to meet him at a cafe to pitch our proposition to him. We loved that he was a young, eager guy who knew his stuff and could really see potential in Mystro.
We met up a few times more with Luke to discuss Mystro in more detail and how we planned to move forward. After more in-depth discussion, we came to the conclusion that we needed a front-end developer to come on board and fill that gap. That’s where Bryce Hanscomb came in. Luke recommended Bryce after previously working with him. And just like that, our team grew from 2 people to 4, and we ventured onto the next stage of our startup journey.
Luke and Bryce showed commitment early on by quitting their jobs and working on Mystro full-time. Together, we re-built Mystro from the ground up and launched in Beta in January 2015.
In terms of how we knew they were the right co-founders, it came down to these four things:
1. Their skills and knowledge in their field;
2. Whether they were the type of people to want to push the boundaries and think outside the square;
3. How well we all got along – a simple, but important factor;
4. Good ol’ gut instinct.
It also helped knowing they’d previously worked together.
3) Tell us how you got your first 100 customers and what strategies are working the best to continue to attract new customers.
We built a subscriber base of over 1000 health, wellness and fitness professionals worldwide in the years leading up to launching Mystro so we had a solid list of potential customers to market to once we released our software. We had a landing page with some information about Mystro and an email subscribe form to start collecting emails. This gave us a great head start once Mystro was launched and our first 100 customers pretty much came from this database.Social media was the biggest driving factor for us with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn being the three main drivers for gaining new customers.
To get new customers now, we use the release of new features as a marketing tool to promote and create interest in Mystro. Instead of continuously promoting the same image on social media, we find this gives us a constant fresh stream of new content to promote. It also helps grab the attention of health, wellness and fitness professionals that may be experiencing a certain problem in their business, which could be solved by the new feature we released.
4) Which social media avenue do you see the most traction in finding new customers? If you could only use one social media tool, what would it be?
Based on traffic, Facebook gives us the most traction hands-down and, if we could only use one social media tool, it would probably have to be Facebook. However, the quality we get from a LinkedIn connection is far better. LinkedIn lets us easily find and connect with industry professionals. In our case, we search the title of the professional we’re targeting, like ‘Massage Therapist’, which then allows us to search for ‘People with Massage Therapist Titles’. We then use the advanced search options to refine our search results further to best suit the customers we’re targeting. For example, we refine our search to 2nd Connections and click a specific location.
From there, we add each person in the search results as a connection. Once the connection is made, we send them a friendly message to touch base. We do not try to sell or promote our product.
We use the ‘Ways to Keep In Touch’ section of LinkedIn, which notifies us when one of our connections is starting a new job, has a job anniversary, or even a Birthday. We regularly keep in touch by sending messages congratulating our connections – again, we do not try to sell or promote our product. We find this is a great way for our brand to remain fresh in our connections’ mind and indirectly builds trust with them. By having that continual communication with our connections, we’ve found it increases the possibility of them checking out our website and blog, liking and sharing the posts we publish in our feed, and signing up to Mystro.
5) You have a great blog on your website; what benefits are you seeing as a result of your blogging activities?
We use our blog to share new features, general Mystro related updates, and our monthly newsletters. When we promote a new feature online, we direct users to the article on our blog to read more about that feature. The benefits to this include an increase in traffic and an improvement in conversions where users sign up to Mystro after reading an article on our blog.
6) What has been one of the greatest challenges so far?
Like most startups, we ran into a few bumps along the way. We always knew that, once we could get a working product, we wouldn’t have any issues in getting businesses to sign up. The journey in getting the working product was where we had the most issues.As we touched on before, the main headache we experienced came about when dealing with software development companies to build our product. They weren’t reliable, every phase they released to us was incomplete, and they didn’t follow the brief. Additionally, this route was extremely expensive. We found ourselves paying $15,000 per month for each phase they released. In order to make payments, Sheree was forced to find alternative work as a Business Finance Manager for a car dealership and, with a lot of hard work, we managed to save around $90,000 in 9 months.
It wasn’t until we started working with our new tech co-founders to develop the new version of Mystro that we realized there were so many security factors that just weren’t taken into consideration by the development company we hired, which is a big no-no when businesses are entrusting their sensitive data with you. Thankfully, we can now say that our team takes security seriously and we’re always on the lookout for ways to improve the security of our software.
7) What are you doing to grow your business today and why?
We’ve chosen to take the organic approach and build relationships with people, rather than purely focusing on mass marketing. As a startup, we don’t have a large budget that we can pump into marketing and advertising so we have to be smart with how we attract our customers.
Social media plays a big role in building our customer base. Understanding that our customers interact differently through various social media platforms has been important in terms of knowing what may work for one platform, may not be as effective on another.
We’re active within industry forums, answering questions and providing advice to businesses in the health, wellness and fitness sectors.
Networking is something we’re starting to do a lot of. We like to regularly attend business events, especially events specific to our target market, so we can network with potential customers. It’s also a great way to get noticed!
With that being said, it’s always a continual learning curve. Our efforts seem to be working so far and we were recently dubbed a “Hot Australian Tech Company To Help Your Business”, which was an awesome achievement for our team.
8) Tell us what you learned that you would now do differently, had you known ahead of time.
If we knew then what we know now, we would have bypassed going down the route of using a software company to develop our software. They lack a vested interest in your product, which we later found out is pretty important if you want to get the job done right. Instead, we would have brought on a tech co-founder or two earlier on in the game to speed up the process and get our product to market quicker.We initially chose to go it alone and that’s something we’d do differently now. It’s easy to want to retain 100% of your startup, especially when it’s your first ‘baby’, but it’s a smart move to find like-minded people with a variety of skill sets to build and grow your startup with. It’s better to have a small piece of something then of a big piece of nothing.
9) If the reader only takes away one thing, what should they learn from this article?
It’s tough being a startup. You’ve got to live and breathe everything about it day in, day out. It’s important you’re passionate about what it is you’re offering, whether it be a product or service, and really believe in it.No matter what life throws at you and no matter how much you want to give up, if you give yourself no other option but to succeed, you will succeed. If you are persistent with your dreams, they will come true.