USF Alumni Create Successful Fitness Startup

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Katie Ward
Staff Writer 

Five months after graduating from the University of San Francisco, Manny Parra had already raised $110,000 for his current business venture. His rapidly growing company, Revive Fitness, is a mobile app that connects users directly with fitness gurus, allowing for group class opportunities outside of a gym. 

Parra partnered with his classmate and Phi Delta Theta brother Julius Baron to create the app once Parra finished his time at USF. After receiving their seed funding from private investors, they partnered with IDEO, one of the largest design firms in the nation, and began prototyping their product. Now, the app is available for download in the Apple Store, and is currently active in two cities.

The Revive office is located in SoMa, in a classic startup environment: an incubator. According to inc.com, “Incubators are a great way for small businesses to get ahead of their competitors. These investment businesses provide an opportunity for small businesses to have a shared workspace, networking opportunities, investor connections, and mentorships.”

And Revive isn’t settled in just any incubator — they currently reside at Runway, an incubator located in the Twitter headquarters. According to Parra, Runway is very selective of its partners, and it holds multi-round interviews to filter through its many startup applicants. Accepted in early September, the Revive employees average 16-hour workdays.

Since September, the Revive team has officially announced that Dave Romney, a recent USF alum and Los Angeles Galaxy player, will be a sponsored athlete for the app. Parra and Baron are also pursuing other athlete sponsorships to boost awareness of the app.

Revive has launched in two cities — San Diego, Parra’s hometown, and San Francisco. The app launched in San Diego last month, and Baron showed excitement at its success. “Our classes filled up very well. Users love the outdoor setting, especially the beach classes — everyone jumps in the ocean afterwards. It’s a good time. I have a suspicion our beach classes will continue getting the best reception in San Diego,” he said. Additional classes are being announced every week in the location.

San Francisco is currently in the process of a soft launch. According to Parra, they decided to launch first in San Diego in order to test in “a controlled environment,” and waited for San Francisco’s “Indian summer” to launch in the company’s home city. This soft launch entails irregular meetups available to SF users to test the success of the app in a new environment. 20 people attended the first San Francisco meetup, and next week, Revive will be hosting a “sweatworking” workshop at Runway. This will provide their startup peers with the opportunity to network with one another while working out.

Revive is also hosting an event next week for its USF followers called “Iron Don.” This competitive, $5 class intends to bring awareness of the app to USF community members who have not heard of Revive already. Proceeds will go towards wounded veterans.

Parra’s USF experience was highly influenced by his experience as a Green Beret in the United States Army Special Forces. “I’m a big proponent of fitness because of the military. The military taught me how to work with people in groups and especially in high-pressure situations,” said Parra.

Parra was also inspired by Keith Hunter, assistant professor of organizational behavior in the School of Management and a Navy veteran. “Manny and his team did one of the most interesting, highly-successful projects in my class,” said Hunter, “Manny’s team worked with the Salvation Army to deliver a fantastic basketball tournament. [The Salvation Army] were raving like crazy how fun it’s been to work with Manny. How helpful he’s been, and that nothing makes him blink. When things go wrong, as they always do, he would improvise and find a way to fix them.”

Parra is also hopeful to add another element to his resume — a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. Parra’s former employer, CEO of HackerRank Vivek Ravisankar, nominated him for the position. As a former holder of this title, Ravisankar’s nomination gives Parra a greater chance of making the list.

Parra and Baron work to maintain their relationships with their USF connections, and their reputation still stands strong. “When it comes to Manny, he never does the bare minimum. He does what it takes to live up to the standards that he has. I’m not surprised at all that he’s going to be a successful entrepreneur,” said Hunter.

Getting his education at USF proved to be an invaluable experience for Parra, and he expressed his gratitude toward the University. “Networking at USF has been absolutely essential to getting where I’m at today. Not only did I have a diverse body of highly motivated (and motivating) peers constantly pushing me to be better, I also had plenty of resources to meet new people,” said Parra.

“We could never have envisioned this. Things move and change so fast in the startup world it is difficult to imagine the next day, let alone the next week or months,” said Baron.

Photo courtesy of Emily Meyers/USFTV

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