By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Christopher Saah is focused on helping personal trainers expand their reach and income.
The Knoxville native recently placed second in the “Spring Vol Court” business plan competition coordinated by the Anderson Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Knoxville campus.
His company is named MyPTshop.com, underscoring the fact that it is an online enterprise bringing eCommerce capabilities to independent fitness professionals, such as personal trainers and yoga instructors.
“I have a few friends who are trainers,” Saah said, explaining that he met them as a direct result of being very active in sports as he was growing-up.
Through his frequent interaction with trainers and coaches, he learned that the average person spends $600 to $800 annually on nutritional supplements and sports equipment. Personal trainers, however, do not benefit financially from these purchases that their customers make directly through retail or online stores, even though they are the ones making the sale.
With MyPTshop.com, the trainers can secure a new revenue source – products purchased through them rather than other sources, without ever having to actually touch a product. MyPTshop.com takes care of all inventory and order fulfillment. Saah describes it as starting your personal trainer shop in seconds, without any extra work to our trainers.
So, how does it work?
Saah provides the trainers with a template, not unlike Word Press which we use for teknovation.biz. This allows the trainers to create their own distinctive look and feel for their website while also connecting to MyPTshop.com’s online ordering system.
The service, including the template, is offered at no cost to the trainers.
“They (the trainers) pick products from our master list specific to their needs, so if they were training for physique or performance, they may pick different products than a yoga instructor would,” Saah explained.
They can select from more than 6,000 supplements and more than 300 different pieces of equipment, so they are sure to find the products that suit them. The latter could include anything from yoga mats to free weights and boxing gloves.
MyPTshop.com serves as the fulfillment center, shipping the products to the customer and providing a percentage of the sales revenue back to the trainer.
Saah plans to launch a Beta test of the system with a local gym and two individual trainers in the very near future and go full scale later this year.
Now a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship, Saah says, “I’ve always loved the relationship between entrepreneurship and technology.” His examination has included observing his parents whom Saah describes as entrepreneurs. They emigrated from Palestine.
“If you can find a technical solution to a physical problem,” he says, “The possibilities are endless.”
This was Saah’s first time to participate in “Vol Court.”