How I turned personal frustration into a successful fitness app

Joshua Uwadiae is CEO of WeGym, an app which hooks you up with training partners and a qualified PT so you can work out in a group and save money on personal training at the same time. He’ll be returning to host NME’s #Lifehacks event in London on Thursday (November 23), so ahead of the big day we got in touch for a catch-up.

What made you want to host our #Lifehacks event again?
“I think #Lifehacks is the way every career event should be. It speaks our language – people my age can relate and be inspired by people following their passion, rather than listening to parents and teachers. This shit should have been around when I was younger! #Lifehacks is about individualism and passion, doing what you love and care about. It’s inspiring and I’m excited to be involved!”

What are you most looking forward to on the day?
“Connecting and hearing the stories of these inspiring people still gets me excited. Giving back is something I want to do more of but rarely find time to do. Events like these – when it’s a cause I think really matters – are perfect for me.”

Where did you get the idea for WeGym from?
“Personal frustration. I hated going to the gym by myself – the only time I went was with a friend of mine from work. I found it really boring, so I stopped going. I had looked for a PT but it was super-expensive and frankly to me that made no sense. I saw videos saying that if you really want to start a business, you should find something you hate, and I just wanted to solve my own problem. That’s how my journey started.”

What was the hardest part of getting WeGym off the ground? What did you learn along the way?
“When we were two months away from shutting down the company as we were about to run out of cash. I had burned all my savings and had to move back with my parents. And we’d only just realised based on lots of feedback and testing that what we were originally trying to do wasn’t going to work. All of my sacrifice felt like it was in vain – and my business partner left too so it really felt like rock bottom. I had no money and no team and an app nobody wanted. I honestly stayed in bed for a few days feeling depressed.

“But then a mentor said to me: ‘Look at your situation from the worst possible outcome and ask yourself was it worth it.’ And it was! I was proud I did something nobody does: leave a good job, take a big risk and chase my dream. And if it all failed I was young enough – 22 – to make some money, travel and come back and try it all again. I managed to turn it all around through pure hustle so for now the story has a happy ending – we’re growing and thriving!”

What advice would you give to someone who thinks they may have a great idea for a new app in any field?
“Despite your optimism, treat your business idea like a hypothesis. When I started WeGym I was very emotionally attached to it, but I learned that businesses need to be proven. To prove they work, it’s important to take a neutral stance and apply some thinking in ‘de-risking’: identifying the risks and demonstrating that they can be overcome.”

NME has teamed up with University of Salford and youth initiative Create Jobs to lay on our #Lifehacks event in London on November 23. The event will be headlined by Chelsea footballer Eni Aluko and hip-hop artist Loyle Carner, who will team up for an ‘in conversation’ panel.

Another panel will see acclaimed campaigners Paris Lees, Paula Akpan and Josie Naughton join forces to discuss how to effect positive change. Meanwhile, MOBO founder Kanya King MBE and Universal Music UK’s Jonathan Badyal will talk about the things they wish they’d known at age 18.

One the day, you’ll also be able to connect with the NME team and our partners at the dedicated Hack-Space, and enter the world of gaming at the Game Lab. Plus, there will be free food and drink, and the event will culminate in an exclusive secret evening gig.

You can buy tickets to our #Lifehacks event (including an exclusive secret gig) with University of Salford here.