Let's talk about the elephant in the room

I often laugh when watching presidential contenders refer to the sitting president as ‘my opponent’. Um, yes, we know who your ‘opponent’ is – THE PRESIDENT for crying out loud. It’s in this spirit that I’d like to talk openly about another software maker – and a company you’ve almost certainly heard of – Mindbodyonline. If you’re shopping around for yoga studio software, you’d have to be hiding under a rock not to know who they are.

Now, it’s normally considered taboo to talk about a competitor, but let’s face it, they’re huge, and we have to answer the question ‘why should we use your product over theirs?’.

So let’s do it. Let’s talk openly about the elephant in the room.

The question I often get from people when I talk about our product is something like: “…oh man, do you just totally hate mindbody?” The answer to this is No, not at all. In fact, as someone who owns a small software company in Chicago, I have enormous respect for them. I know first hand that building a product, marketing it, and getting people to use your software is not easy.

On top of this, they often get ‘best places to work awards’ so it’s not like they’re some big bad evil nasty factory. Oh, and to top it off, their CEO used to be an Officer on a nuclear submarine. WTF man!?!

Actually, I do kind of wish it was easier to hate on them. ;)

But here’s the thing, and this is central to my belief as an entrepreneur. We don’t live in a world where in order for one company to succeed, another has to fail. This is true for yoga studios, and it’s true for software companies.

Your small yoga studio doesn’t have to try and take down Bally’s or some other huge gym in order for you to thrive. There’s enough room in the market for both of you to succeed.

You’re different. Your customers are different. And for some people, your small studio is better than a corporate studio or a gym membership.

And it’s in this same way that our software is different from MindBody.

The type of software you use is directly dependent on who it’s makers are trying to please. And if you’re using the same software that’s used byCorePower, and martial arts studios, and spas and Health Clubs, and is also a point of sale system and also does accounting………you are going to feel it.

Our software was made originally for one person. My wife Maile and her yoga studio. And there is a very good chance that your studio is a lot more like my wife’s yoga studio than it is a large health club.

And if that’s the case, there’s a great chance our software is going to be better for you, your studio, and your customers.

MindBody was originally bootstrapped just like us, but has since raised over $20 million in Venture Capital funding.

And because of this they have a lot of people to please. Their software has to please investors, spas, health clubs, gyms, and places that process hundreds of visitors a day. They have to grow, expand, and go international. Every single one of these realities influences their software, and the decisions they make. This doesn’t make them bad – it’s just the reality of the situation.

You know who we have to please? Maile, her instructors, and her students. This reality is baked into every decision we make. And as a result we’re able to please a lot of independent yoga studios that are a lot like Maile’s studio.

It doesn’t make either of us better or worse than the other. It just means we’re different.

Instead of having a two week merchant account application process, we integrated with Stripe so people can take credit cards with our system instantly. Instead of building out a full point of sale system, we say, you know what – you should probably just use Square Register. They’re awesome.

The only thing that’s ever bothered me is that a lot of people thought they didn’t have a choice. They thought they had to use MindBody or nothing. That may have been true at one point, but it’s no longer the case.

Yoga is only getting more popular. New studios are opening up every day. And for many of them, we’re the best option out there.

To our customers that have chosen us, we’re grateful for your early support. And to those who have been looking for a better alternative, don’t worry, you don’t have to start hating MindBody to love us.

There’s room enough here for everyone.