To put it simply, Myles Grote understands innovation.
9 years ago, he joined CEO Kevin MacCauley to co-found Upper Hand. As Chief Product Officer, he’s since written the playbook for a customer-first strategy focused on retention, satisfaction, and (of course), innovation.
As Grote describes, the strategy at Upper Hand is not innovation for the sake of innovation. It’s innovating intentionally in order to better our customers’ businesses.
And that strategy is paying off.
Upper Hand was most recently recognized as Most Innovative Tech Company at the 19th annual American Business Awards.
We sat down with Grote to understand how he defines innovation, what innovation looks like in the sports and fitness industry, and the upcoming products that will pave the way for customer growth.
Myles Grote on Upper Hand Product Innovations
Q: Why is innovation so important in the sports and fitness industry?
If you think of innovation in the sports and fitness industry, it’s similar to the financial space. It’s always been behind from a technological standpoint. It’s intriguing that it’s been that way, because of how important sports and fitness is — it’s ingrained not only in the United States, but globally.
When Kevin and I started Upper Hand, we saw a huge opportunity to be the driving force within the sports and fitness industry to use technology and drive innovation to improve the health and fitness of athletes in all forms.
Q: In the last 8 years since you started Upper Hand, have you seen more innovation in sports and fitness?
There has been a lot more innovation on the fitness side, which has been exciting. Whenever capital starts flowing into a particular space, it increases competition, which increases everyone’s game from a competitive standpoint. An increase in capital coming into the space has been huge for the industry, and it’s been huge for technological advancements in innovation in this space.
Q: What makes Upper Hand such an innovative player in the industry, and what do we do differently that allows us to be the leader in innovation?
Innovation can be such a loaded term, and a buzzword that everyone uses to describe themselves, but at Upper Hand, innovation stems from just listening to our customers and truly understanding the core problems that they have. If you understand the core problems that you have, get a team around to solve those particular problems, and allow that team to operate and flow in their own kinds of dynamics to solve those problems, you can come up with some really innovative solutions.
That’s what we’ve been trying to focus on doing over the past several years. We continue to listen to our customers beyond the walls of Upper Hand, going out to our actual customers and locations to experience and engulf ourselves within the culture of our customers, which helps us drive innovation here at Upper Hand.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the more innovative product releases from last year that we’ve seen at Upper Hand?
One of the biggest highlights from last year was the UP Financial Suite, because we completely rethought the way we were presenting financial data to our customers. [Finances] are such a key piece of our industry. One of the big problems we had seen in competitors was the lack of visibility and therefore the inability to really track financial data within the platform. We isolated the core problems that our customers were experiencing from a financial tracking standpoint and ultimately delivered the UP Financial Suite.
Q: Have you heard of positive feedback from customers on that particular feature?
Yes! In terms of usage, it has quickly become one of our top ten reports using the app. The strength has been really great over the past 18 days: we’ve had 14,000 unique visitors using that particular app, and the usage is trending up over 50%.
On the feedback side, so far, it has been really positive. It all boils down to ease of use. It’s just really easy to use very simple kinds of data filters to pop into and get down to the data that you need to see.
Q: What innovative features can we expect to see from Upper Hand soon?
There are two upcoming features that really stick out. I’m not going to go into specific details about what those actual features are going to be, but one of them has to do with memberships. We are really close on getting something out into beta to give a next-level, cutting edge way of viewing your recurring membership business. That is coming very soon. We also have some new payment solutions particularly around new payment invoices that we are going to be launching soon.
Secondly, this is one of the bigger features we have coming, but we have some really interesting things we’re going to be doing on the contacts side of things, which is going to give our customers awesome capabilities to solve some of the bigger marketing problems that they have within their business. This is a twofold marking piece: one big piece of this is a contact solution, but the other part is really just being able to slice and dice your contact data so you’re not overwhelmed with 100 reports.
There are so many reports you can build, and historically, a lot of our competitors have listened to customers that say they want a report so they just give it to them out of the box. But the problem that is created is a paralysis by analysis, where customers are just overwhelmed with the amount of data and reports they have and the lack of flexibility. So, we are launching a completely new functionality to slice and dice your contact data in a meaningful way to allow you to make more intelligent decisions around your business.