As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Stollmeyer.
Rick co-founded Mindbody in his garage in 2001. He serves as CEO and principal visionary, ensuring that everything the company undertakes — from product to business development to team member enrichment — serves Mindbody’s purpose to help people lead healthier, happier lives by connecting the world to wellness.
In 2005, Rick transformed the industry when he migrated the company’s business management software to the cloud. Today, Mindbody remains the leading technology platform for the wellness industry, streamlining business management for service providers and making it easier for consumers to explore and experience the many dimensions of wellness. Mindbody powers tens of thousands of fitness, beauty and integrative health businesses worldwide.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I spent my early years in the Navy as a submarine officer. Those years taught me so much of what I have carried with me today in my career. As an engineer, I found myself following that path within the corporate world in the late ’90s. I co-founded Mindbody out of my garage in 2001, when everything was powered by the internet. When I had the opportunity to help my high school friend sell software to yoga and spin studios, I took the risk.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Early on, we thought that we could simply set these companies (workout studios) up with a software and walk away. I truly thought that by coding the software, selling it in and then onboarding the business, our work was done, and we could go on selling the software elsewhere. I specifically remember — it was the spring of 2001 and we thought we nailed it. I was wrong. I quickly learned that supporting this robust software and people’s use of it truly never ends. These small business owners needed us. We had to not only help them understand the software, but to evolve the software and make it better with each passing day. Now, I understand that we will never be done supporting our tens of thousands of customers. We’re here as a sounding board to listen to their feedback and continue evolving the product to make running their businesses easier.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a book that has stuck with me over the years. The title speaks for itself! The learnings from this book translate to any role you play in your career and I have seen its impact throughout my own.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The vision was to create a marketplace for wellness by connecting people and places in the industry. That vision took Mindbody down an immediate path of providing B2B software to wellness businesses, up until we launched the app, which allowed for consumer discovery and exploration within local communities. Today, that vision stands strong and is more important than ever. As the industry’s leading platform, our purpose is to enable local and authentic wellness experiences, helping people across the globe lead happier, healthier lives. Now more than ever, in the wake of a global pandemic, our mission is to improve the health of individuals across the world. Movement, nutrition and mental well-being are among so many other driving forces in 2020, and COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for future adoption of individual wellness.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
“1% inspiration, 99% perspiration,” attributed to Thomas Edison. This quote has stuck with me since the early days of Mindbody. I used to ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
My wife and I have four kids ranging from teenage years to late 20s. Three of four are sheltering at home with us. It has certainly been unusual having that many people in the house at one time, but we’ve had some incredibly fun and memorable moments, alongside some challenging moments. Like everyone, we’re adjusting to the dynamic. We’ve also had a close friend who was infected with coronavirus. He spent more than 40 days in the ICU and thankfully is now recovering. That alone had a huge emotional impact, seeing it first-hand. It has just forced me to truly understand the seriousness of all this, but to also push forward and support those around me, like my family. I’ve been trying to find balance in my day-to-day.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I can’t think of any other way to describe it other than that this crisis hit like a thunderbolt. Over the course of two to three days, activity on our platform took a complete dip below 20% of its original activity.
The greatest challenge for me was first and foremost that our customers around the globe were completely devastated. They were forced to close their doors without any real warning. It was gut-wrenching to think about as the cost of business doesn’t stop — and a lot of these entrepreneurs and small business owners needed immediate support. We adjusted quickly and did what we could to help them weather the storm through things like fee relief and education on what they could be doing to stay afloat in a fast-changing climate. I’m proud to say we’ve saved these companies almost $7.5M to date.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Provide support and perspective. Now more than ever, health & wellness is imperative. We must take care of ourselves and of one another.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I have a lot of thoughts on this as we look back at the industry, but overall, I think our industry is on the brink of great opportunity. With all of the uncertainty around the coronavirus and no timeline for a vaccine, people will become more mindful of their health and wellbeing, taking better care of themselves physically and mentally.
We are entering what I like to call the “fourth wave of wellness.” In order to predict the future of our industry, we need to understand its past. The past three waves have been characterized by things such as workout videos and large health clubs to mind & body connections, day spas and boutique fitness to specialization and diversification. All of this was enabled by PCs and videotapes, DVDs and the internet and most recently iOS/Android and cloud technology. Now, we look towards the fourth wave — aka our future — which is fueled directly by this pandemic disruption. I anticipate it will be characterized by less brick & mortar, smaller classes, hybrid online/offline experience, home-based delivery, corporate wellness and a trend towards democratization. This next wave will be enabled by AI/ML, streaming videos and connected devices.
Also, we should accept that virtual wellness is here to stay. From a recent study we conducted, ninety-three percent of consumers surveyed say they will go back to their previous routine once businesses reopen; however, forty-three percent of those note their previous routine will now tack on a virtual element — a huge behavioral shift since 2019. This data shows that, while in-studio workouts and services will remain highly in demand, virtual wellness will be a major part of the landscape moving forward. The businesses that will survive will be those that can adapt to this trend via hybrid memberships inclusive of both in-person and virtual offerings.
Wellness businesses have the opportunity for rebirth and growth coming out of COVID-19. Around the world, this crisis gave nearly everyone a crash course in virtual meetings and collaboration. Those new habits will force leaders in business, education and government to reduce their reliance on commercial office space. This will help bring back the brick & mortar wellness industry — as well as small restaurants, bars and coffee shops — by reducing the cost of commercial space and increasing the value people place on real interactions and group settings. At some point, we have to get out of our homes and people will crave the need for a “third space.”
I think it is important to note that some of the biggest brands in wellness emerged in the midst of some of the crises in the 2000s. The interruption of COVID-19 is accelerating trends that were already happening. While it is also interrupting other trends, we anticipate a flurry of innovation and new adoption in the future.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I think people will take better care of themselves across all dimensions of wellness — not just physical. Other channels of wellness like mental, emotional and spiritual will continue to skyrocket.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
My purpose has not changed. I want to help people lead happier, healthier lives by connecting the world to wellness. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of that purpose. While it has shifted some of the “how,” it hasn’t changed our commitment. At Mindbody, we are here to power the businesses of the future — those that meet the challenge and opportunity of the new normal.
We’ll continue to be there for entrepreneurs worldwide. We’ll continue to push our Virtual Wellness Platform forward to support the long-term adoption of virtual wellness. This platform allows the wellness businesses of the future to offer integrated, hybrid memberships (inclusive of both in-studio and virtual offerings) that live in one place.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Continue to communicate, innovate and be creative. It has been incredibly inspiring to see what thousands of small business owners within the industry have done over the past few months to find ways to be relevant, fast; to keep providing their services to their community of clients, even after being forced to close their doors.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote that has always stuck with me that feels more relevant than ever is attributed to Abe Lincoln — but it actually comes from the book The Great Influenza. “A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart.” Something about that speaks to me now. People need to hear the truth. Allow them to face the challenges ahead with transparency and knowledge of what’s to come.
How can our readers further follow your work?