Ed Buckley has found an innovative way to make money by encouraging people to exercise. Through Peerfit, a company he founded with Scott Peeples, he is working with insurers and employers to provide exercise credits at fitness centers across the nation.
“The idea is that we should give you an array of options, whatever is going to motivate you to get out of the couch,” says Buckley, Peerfit’s CEO. “You have the availability to do it, and you have no barriers to stop you.”
Buckley was studying group fitness at the University of Florida when he had an idea to start a fitness company. In 2010, when he met Peeples, another student, he pitched him the idea. By 2011, Peerfit was a reality.
“We’re pretty satisfied with the diversity of high-quality options we've put inside the [fitness] network, says Buckley, who holds a PhD from UF in Health Behavior, with a focus on Digital Health and Wellness.
A digital company based in Tampa, Peerfit works directly with insurance carriers and employers with wellness budgets. The companies buy credits that clients or employees can use at a variety of fitness studios such as CAMP, Soho Cycling and Epic Boxing in Tampa, or the national Lifetime Fitness.
The companies fund a certain number of credits every month. “It’s all about personalization and flexibility. That’s what we built the model for,” he explains.
The company was developed with capital from friends and family. In the summer of 2016, Peerfit raised $1.5 million, including some $400,000 through Florida Funders, a company developed in 2014 to help investors fund Florida businesses.
“Some of my friends like to call us the 20th century entrepreneurs,” quips Marc Blumenthal, Florida Funders’ CEO.
Florida Funders ferrets through 70 to 100 companies a month to find those one, two or three they will try to help financially. “We’re actually focused on tech-enabled companies,” he explains.
Florida Funders’ website
serves as a platform to connect businesses with investors. In addition to making a profit through shares in the companies, its goal is to help make Florida a place where investors’ children and grandchildren can find good jobs.
“Peerfit is a very exciting company,” Blumenthal says. “We ... want to make sure they don’t leave to go somewhere else.”
is already making its mark. During 2016, it helped 10,000 people.
After you find your footing, things move and they move fast,” Buckley says.