“When we started, we were still in university and naïve about the challenges ahead. We definitely benefited from having SETsquared’s people around to advise us and to help support us as a new business.”
Alister Rollins, founder, The Retention People and MoveGB

Fast facts

SETsquared support

  • Student enterprise
  • mentoring
  • investment
  • Investment Showcase
  • premises

Company Overview

The Retention People provides software and solutions to the leisure industry to manage the customer experience. Its software integrates with membership systems, enabling leisure operators to analyse their customers’ behaviour, for example to improve membership retention.

What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve? 

“While we were still students, my co-founders and I won the SETsquared business plan competition, which gave us a prize of £5,000. We re-invested the money to start The Retention People before graduating.” 

Company successes

2002: secured investment from Sulis Seedcorn Fund
November 2005: won Daily Telegraph young entrepreneur of the year
January 2010: launched in USA
June 2011: acquired by Jonas Software

SETsquared support

“SETsquared did a lot for The Retention People. In 2002, we moved into an office in the Bath Innovation Centre, where we were the first tenants. SETsquared helped us to find what grants were available, for example a £15,000 enterprise development fund grant. They also helped us talk to the bank and put us in contact with useful people.”
“We took part in the SETsquared Investment Showcase, which was a good learning experience. I was only 20 years old and pitching in front of 100 or so high net worth individuals, and while I was out of my comfort zone it was great to have that experience early in my career.”
“SETsquared also helped us to find funding. It arranged a series of mock pitches, and introduced us to connections that ultimately led to investment from the Sulis Seedcorn Fund. We secured £125,000 from Sulis and a similar amount from the bank, and a couple of years later we got another £90,000 from Sulis and £400,000 from a private investor.”
“Simon Bond, in particular, was great at getting press attention for us. Simon nominated me for the Daily Telegraph young entrepreneur of the year award in 2005, which I went on to win.”
“Looking back, I realise we made the typical mistake of taking too long to get to market, thinking the product would sell itself rather than engaging and learning from the marketplace as soon as possible. It took us about six years before we have a really successful business – triggered by constant ‘pivoting’ of our proposition until we developed an algorithm that could predict in advance when health club members would quit – then the market came to us, making TRP the world leaders in less than 3 years”
“After I sold The Retention People in 2011, I carried on working there for a year to help them get a solid foundation in the US. I left last year to set up a new exciting business which I believe will be a real game changer in the active leisure industry - MoveGB. MoveGB’s purpose is to help solve the inactivity epidemic by making staying active super easy. We intend to do what iTunes did for the music industry but for the active leisure market, being the one service you need to access all things that “move” your body. I had spent 10 years at The Retention People studying data on how to get and keep people active, in short the secret is variety. MoveGB is a simple concept instead of a membership to one gym you subscribe to a MoveGB ‘passport’ that lets people use multiple facilities and do different activities, increasing the variety of how they exercise and making being active more convenient and fun. We already have over 400 activity providers onboard in our pilot cities of Bath and Bristol and we’re getting rave reviews from our early members. ”
“I’ve maintained a good relationship with SETsquared, and because we had a good experience the first time round, I decided to set up MoveGB in the Bath Innovation Centre. Simon Bond has done a fantastic job of turning it into what the original concept promised: a hub for start-ups, filled with the vibe and energy of young businesses.”
“We’re getting a lot of support from SETsquared, which for now is primarily about the office space. We’ve grown from two people hot desking to a team of fourteen in the last three months, and SETsquared has been helpful and flexible to accommodate such a fast-growing business.”

Future plans

“I’m in New York recruiting for MoveUSA, which we plan to roll out at venues across the USA soon, and MoveAUS will follow. Ultimately, I’d like GroupMove, the parent company, to be known as a fitness brand that changed the face of the industry. The fitness industry model is flawed, and I want to fix that on a global scale. I’d like GroupMove brands to be a well-known household names within the next three to five years.”