IAM1697 – Founder Helps Facilities Utilise Technology Effectively

Podcast Interview with Rachel Koretsky

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Rachel was able to start her organization because she had frustration but created a solution. It was a great reminder of how when you are able to scratch your own itch and solve that problem. One of the powerful things we spoke about was data. “The more data you have the smarter [business] decisions” you can make. This data and conversation also helped them to build their road map within their organization. We spoke about evolving and how important that is within entrepreneurship.

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Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2020/05/21/iam647-founder-helps-facilities-utilise-technology-effectively/


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Rachel Koretsky Teaser 00:00

It's really about how do we make the member experience better while continuing the members to stay more engaged, and the more engaged the members are, the longer that they're gonna stay. So increasing retention at these wellness and recreation facilities.

Intro 00:16

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs. Without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:43

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode.

If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics. Or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do and is actually a core part of your business. If you are a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, if you're a cleaning company, an author, or speaker, you are using technology. If you are in any business, you are using technology, and if you're not, then you're probably going to be disrupted by an organization that is.

So this month we are going to look into purposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually using and investing in technology as a core part of their products and services, or potentially those individuals that are using and leveraging CEO Hacks and CEO nuggets that center around technology and sharing ways that we can leverage it as well. Remember that you are a technology company that does dot, dot dot. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Rachel Koretsky of Upace. Rachel, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Rachel Koretsky 02:13

Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:15

No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Rachel so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And Rachel is the founder and CEO of Upace. Rachel started Upace after her personal frustration at her university recreation center.

It is her second venture. She launched her first “Teen Advisory Council” while in college, which was acquired by Ronald McDonald House-SNJ. Rachel has a bachelor's in Business Administration specializing in Entrepreneurship and Business Development for Social Impact from American University.

Rachel, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Rachel Koretsky 02:50

Yes, of course.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:52

Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to hear how everything got started. I wanted to hear your CEO story. What let you get started with your business.

Rachel Koretsky 02:59

So I started the company right after I graduated college and it really was from my personal frustrations at my university rec center with things like getting to the gym and it was too crowded to work out or a whiteboard sign up if you wanted to get on a treadmill or elliptical, and thought there has to be a better way.

At the same time, a couple of my professors were starting an incubator program for entrepreneurs on campus, and they gave me the encouragement to say, why don't you start thinking about this as an actual business? And I kind of was like, let me just graduate my senior year and the job, like do the normal path. Then I really took a step back and I was like, well, maybe this is something that could be viable. I started talking to recreation directors, students in other colleges, and noticed that this was a problem happening beyond my rec center. And I decided after I graduated to actually go for it and start Upace.

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And we are a platform that's built for recreation centers. We expanded from universities, YMCA, Jewish Community Centers, government parks, and rec all around. How do you better manage your members and understand what's going on at your facilities through accessing data, but really through utilizing technology.

Gresham Harkless 04:10

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I think that I love, stories that start out with scratching your itch, so to speak, and you see the frustration. But of course, you, in true entrepreneurial form, don't just say, Hey, you get frustrated, and just don't get angry. You decide to go to the lab. I like to call in and actually create something to help solve that problem.

Rachel Koretsky 04:27

Exactly, and that's the best way too. It's like you're solving a problem that you see in the market. You're seeing and learning about it, and the more you like to talk to people who are also experiencing it, the better you develop your idea. And definitely from day one to day ten to day hundred the ideas evolve and change so much, just because of hearing the frustrations of other people and what they were experiencing.

Gresham Harkless 04:51

Yeah, absolutely. So, I know you touched on it a little bit, I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper, hear a little bit more about Upace and how exactly it works and the benefits of course it provides for the people that are using it, but also for the facilities and the organizations and recreation centers you mentioned.

Rachel Koretsky 05:05

Yeah, so our platform is a mobile-based platform where we have a mobile app for members of recreation centers where they're able to access tools around seeing how crowded the gym is, meaning ten people are on the basketball courts, five people in the weight room. Then we dive into reservation-type tools. So making a reservation from a group fitness class, personal training, spa, nutrition, fitness assessments, tennis courts, racquetball courts, or any of the programs that you have to offer things like facility hours of operations, alerts, and that a member might wanna have easy access to with their facility to stay in touch while on the go.

One thing where we are involved in, is the importance for these operators, the facility to have access to this data and understanding of what's actually happening at the facility. So we built an administration portal that gives access to data analytics, understanding who's coming to the group fitness classes, when, and how often, using these tools to predict if a member's about to leave, if they're happy, utilizing feedback tools within.

So it's really about how we make the member experience better while continuing the members to stay more engaged, and the more engaged the members are, the longer they're gonna stay. So increasing retention at these wellness and recreation facilities.

Gresham Harkless 06:24

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And definitely correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like as you said, not only do you know like somebody is coming to the recreation center, but you're knowing where exactly they're spending time, how they're spending the time.

And then as you said, it gives you that opportunity to really, once you understand exactly that information, you have that data, you're able to create that better experience and to maybe even sometimes predict where a person's going so that you can again, be there before they even get there, which is great customer service.

Rachel Koretsky 06:50

Exactly. And what we always say, is like the more data you have, the better and even smarter decisions that you can make from a business perspective. And I think that's relative to any business, is better understanding whatever's happening in the business or at your facility and art case, the better you can take that step back and really understand where should we make smarter budget decisions or growth decisions, hiring decisions. And that's what we've seen with our facilities and what they're able to do.

Gresham Harkless 07:15

Yeah, absolutely. And I definitely love data, it's definitely everything especially if you have accessibility or a way to have access to it. So, I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. They could be for you personally or your business, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Rachel Koretsky 07:30

A couple of things. I definitely like our technology from the business perspective, like sets us apart from other technologies that might be out there, but I really think it's our approach that we take of who we are as a business, who we are as a team, that we take the approach of we wanna listen to what our clients have to say.

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We wanna continue to evolve based on pain points a client might experiences, and ideas that they might have and really form it where it's not a client typical relationship. Where we really become their partner, where we're the partners in their growth. If they're having an experience that they need help with, then we want them to share it with us, and we wanna be creative in their ideas on how to overcome that or how to achieve more success.

And that's something that I've really seen set us apart. It's just that ability to listen and to take a step back and say, tell me about what's going on at your facility, and let's brainstorm together. How we can help you with technology achieve your goals or transition a particular piece. And that's really allowed us to build really great relationships with our clients who really have become our partners.

Gresham Harkless 08:40

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I don't know if you've definitely had this experience where I feel like obviously because you guys have worked with so many recreation centers and organizations, you also have the ability to not come up with a solution that isn't maybe sometimes tested with other organizations.

So you start to, as you saw when you did it, when you came up with Upace and just seeing that you're not the only one. Sometimes those issues that one organization or community center might be having might also be able to solve another person's as you come up with those solutions.

Rachel Koretsky 09:08

100%. And sometimes we hear it constantly from different people and then we're also able to say, let me introduce you to this director of this recreation center who recently went through it to share how they did overcome it. Or, I know they put out a pdf, let me send that to you. So sometimes it's not necessarily about our necessary technology, but it's also just like putting the puzzle pieces together on how we can support. And a lot of the times, technology speaking, we'll see those consistencies and then tells us as a business, this needs to be on our roadmap and this needs to be sooner on our roadmap because of the need that we're seeing.

And that's really how we build out our roadmap based on what we're hearing from the community and what we feel to be most urgent on our needs.

Gresham Harkless 09:54

Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense. Just as those centers are using the data, you guys are also using the data to serve your customers as well too. So, taking the medicine that you have as well too.

So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So that could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, or what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Rachel Koretsky 10:15

A couple of different things. One book I really love, I actually have it next to me, is Exactly What to Say. This is written by Phil M. Jones. This has been the book that's been really helpful, especially in the sales process.

The second piece that has been extremely helpful is finding the connection of other CEOs and other founders at different stages of the business to meet and have coffee dates with, to really pick their brains on what they found to be successful and find those resources. Find those people who could be the mentors and the support system. And that's been something extremely beneficial to me, is just having that and people who understand the ups and the downs that you go through as an entrepreneur to have that support system. It's really crucial no matter what stage of an entrepreneur you might be.

Gresham Harkless 11:04

Awesome. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO Nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if you can hop into a time machine, what might you tell your younger business self?

Rachel Koretsky 11:16

So if I was to hop into a time machine, I would tell my younger self to really listen to your gut. That initial reaction that you might have to things because you might hear a lot of advice and opinions from other people, but if your gut is telling you stay away or don't make that decision, give yourself enough credit. No matter if you're young or don't think that you have the education or the tools or resources to make that best decision yourself. But sometimes if your gut is telling you something, take a moment, listen to it, and reflect on it before you jump into a decision.

And that's really something that, looking back, I wish I'd done more of that and giving myself the credibility, or maybe it's the confidence to trust in myself that I'm making the right decision.

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Gresham Harkless 12:07

Awesome. So I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO, and we're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So Rachel, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Rachel Koretsky 12:18

I think a CEO means so much to me to be able to be a leader. And I think being a leader means a couple of different things. Being a visionary, a connector collaborating and bringing a team together with a common idea, being a listener, being a guider. I think being able to be a CEO allows for so much creativity that allows you to expand beyond what you might normally be able to do. And I think that really has allowed me to grow so much as a person, as a leader, as a mentor, and as a CEO in the business.

Also being a CEO I love being able to have the ability to control my schedule. And having that flexibility is also something really amazing to be able to have. But also being able to watch my team grow and evolve in their position and offering the tools and resources and being able to see that is something really empowering and really special.

The powerful thing about a CEO, it allows you to be that artist, put all these puzzle pieces together, and make something really beautiful. And now that you're always constantly evolving and that you're never necessarily stuck in a role of position as a CEO, you have to keep continuing to improve, continuing your vision, continuing your team building that it always is a new challenge every day.

Gresham Harkless 13:51

Absolutely. Yeah, I like to say if it's not exactly how I want it to be, it's the 1.0 version. So stay tuned for the next version that continues to get better and to grow as we ourselves.

Rachel Koretsky 14:01

Of course, and that's the best thing. You're ahead of the evolving and you're constantly wanting to evolve. I always tell anyone that I talk to you about entrepreneurship is that once you're stuck and you stop evolving, that's when things start to go downhill. Like if you notice a bug or feedback, take all of those things as a positive cause it allows you to continue to evolved as a business, as a team, whatever it might be, that evolvement is the most crucial thing to being successful.

Gresham Harkless 14:30

Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of times the worst action you could take is no action. Not necessarily taking an action, but not taking an action at all and not growing, not continuing to get out of the comfort zone, and to push the boundaries is really sometimes where it is the worst place to be.

Rachel Koretsky 14:45

Of course, completely agree.

Gresham Harkless 14:47

Awesome. Well, thank you so much again Rachel for that perspective and that definition. I truly appreciate that and appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know.

And then of course, how best they can get ahold of you. Download the app and hear about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Rachel Koretsky 15:05

Yes, of course. To get in touch with me, go to our website, www.upaceapp.com. You could also follow us on any of the social media channels at the Upace app.

Something additional that I think it's important to know, I'm one of the lead organizers of DC Startup Week. We're a community of 10,000 entrepreneurs in the DMV region. So if you live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, check out dcstartupweek.org. We have monthly resources that are masterclass and co-work days. We're starting virtual online programs to help connect entrepreneurs to learn to support one another with the right partners to help you take your business to the next level. So if that's something that you're interested in, please check out dcstartupweek.org

Gresham Harkless 15:49

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thank you so much again, Rachel. We will have the links and information in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you. I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:57

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I am CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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