CoPilot, a digital training app that matches users with one-on-one remote fitness coaches, has raised $6.5 million in Series A-1 funding led by Jackson Square Ventures. The app, which has seen more than 1.5 million workouts completed on the platform, matches users with a coach they connect with in order to receive a custom fitness plan. The idea behind the company is to give users access to a personal coach for the fraction of the price of an in-person fitness trainer.
The Pittsburgh-based startup was founded in 2019 by CEO Matt Spettel and CTO Gabriel Madonna. Spettel told TechCrunch in an interview that his personal journey with fitness is woven into the birth of CoPilot. He says he got into fitness when he was in high school after his best friend and now co-founder Madonna encouraged him to start working out. Spettel says he fell in love with taking care of his body as he underwent his personal fitness journey. The pair then starting tinkering with ideas in the fitness space while Spettel was studying at Carnegie Mellon and Madonna was at MIT.
The duo’s first few ideas were quite different from where they are now, as they initially started building wearables and hardware devices designed to help gym enthusiasts optimize their workouts.
“We built that product and threw it out into the world and saw what people had to say, and we had this realization,” Spettel said. “The problem to solve in fitness is not about optimizing an enthusiast’s workout, it’s helping the average person just know generally what to do and more importantly, helping them actually show up and do it. We became really focused on that problem, which led us to what CoPilot is today.”
Since then the duo have been focused on building a product that gives people unlimited access to their own personal fitness coach. Spettel says that although access to an in-person personal trainer is great, it’s expensive and requires people to go to an actual gym, which is why CoPilot wants to make personal trainers more accessible. CoPilot’s target demographic are people who have a simple baseline of activity and are aware that exercise is important but have struggled to be consistent and hit their goals.
CoPilot is available on both Android and iOS, and the service costs $99 per month.
To get started with the service, users have to answer a series of questions about their exercise background, their personality, their motivation and any preferences they have regarding specializations for their coach. You are then matched with one of CoPilot’s 55 coaches. After that, you schedule a 45-minute call with your coach to talk about your goals and the different type of equipment that you may have. Spettel notes that you don’t need to have any equipment at all, as the coach will be able to offer a custom fitness plan accordingly.
Your coach will then build a detailed fitness plan that is designed to help you reach your goals. From there, the user starts doing their workout asynchronously. After your first call, you mainly communicate with your coach over chat, but you can also schedule check-in calls when needed. Your coach isn’t watching your workouts; instead, the app guides you through your exercises.
“We’ve used a lot of technology to re-create that experience of having a coach right there with you,” Spettel said. “We have audio prompts that sound exactly like your coach speaking to you in real time. Then we have software that we’ve written for devices like the Apple Watch to be able to look at your actual motion data and give you feedback on things like slowing down or keeping your core tighter.”
Spettel says CoPilot differentiates itself from other fitness apps by giving users access to a real human being who is able to understand a user’s different needs and goals, which is something that he believes can’t be replaced by AI or chatbots.
As for the new funding, which brings the company’s total capital raised to $16.5 million, the startup plans to use it to grow its team. CoPilot wants to bring on talent to its engineering, design and marketing teams. The company also plans to hire more coaches, who are employed full-time with CoPilot. In addition, CoPilot wants to build out and systemize its growth engine.
In terms of the future, CoPilot plans to continue to invest in its technology that re-creates its coaching experience, Spettel says. For instance, CoPilot wants to be able to detect more nuanced differences in people’s form as they work out and be able to count their reps. The company also wants to expand its scope beyond strength training and exercise to cover additional topic related to health and wellness, such as nutrition, physical therapy and mental health.