Upper Hand Wrapped: 2020 Year in Review

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Upper Hand 2020 Year in Review

It goes without saying that 2020 was quite the year. With the cancellation of all major and minor sporting events, the popularization of Zoom workouts, and fanless championship games, the sports and fitness industry experienced one of the most momentous periods of change in its long history this year. But as with anything, change breeds innovation.

Here at Upper Hand, it was no different. 

Our team experienced our fair share of changes, challenges, and innovations in 2020. We began the year by introducing several new core features that allowed us to open our software up to a new industry: boutique fitness. We’re proud to recognize that in just the few months since launching this fitness management platform, it has already won several awards for leading the category.

This release was quickly followed by the exciting launch of a best practices webinar series to increase feature adoption and provide more learning resources while showing customers how to get the most out of the software.

As March came around and our world ground to a halt, Upper Hand quickly moved from an in-person workforce to fully remote. Likewise, our customers in the sports and fitness space had to make quick decisions to close their doors. In seeing the immediate impact this had on their businesses, our team moved fast to provide resources and tools to help them maintain operations.

Just 4 days after states began shutting down, Upper Hand released a video training app called D-BAT Video Hub. This app, a white-labeled environment of APEX, was released to all D-BAT franchise locations, allowing them to use its powerful video analysis technology to continue training, coaching, evaluating, and supporting their athletes. 

In a matter of days, coaches and instructors were receiving videos from their athletes that they could analyze and provide valuable feedback on, enabling athletes to continue progressing in their training and keeping operations for the franchise locations running. In the first 36 days after being released en masse, over 4,000 training videos were submitted by 1,000+ users.

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Additionally, in getting a first-hand look at the challenges affecting the sports and fitness industry, the Upper Hand team got to work researching and producing The UPLIFT Roundtable, a webinar featuring some of the industry’s most respected business minds who joined our mission to empower sports + fitness businesses for re-opening. 

Together, through this best practices event, we outlined a playbook of strategies that produced a recommended Sports + Fitness Re-opening Guide, made available to everyone in our industry around the world. But it didn’t stop there. Using the content generated from the Roundtable, our survey of over 1,200 sports and fitness consumers, and our own industry research, we created 6 additional pieces of content, all of which are found here.

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Shortly after the successful completion of the UPLIFT Webinar and Resources, Upper Hand received two prestigious awards in the 18th Annual American Business Awards®: a Gold Stevie® Award in the Training Category and a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Best User Experience Category. We remain grateful for the recognition and know it would not be possible without the help of our amazing customers.

As we settled into newly remote life at Upper Hand, we welcomed many new faces to the team.  Each department grew significantly and we filled in several key roles within our leadership team. Michael Trilus was promoted to Chief Technology Officer in July, and has since led the engineering team to great success. Additionally, Vanessa Palestino joined the team as VP of Business Development where she is focused on leading the sales team to new heights. 

We recently celebrated several awards and accomplishments. In September, we were recognized as a Category Leader for Yoga Studio software by GetApp. Category Leaders are designed to help small businesses evaluate which software products may be right for them. Additionally, we were named a GetApp Category Leader and Software Advice FrontRunner for Club Management software. FrontRunners are the top software products in a category, offering the best capability and value for small businesses based on their usability and customer satisfaction. 

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2020 Product Innovations

Finally, our year-end wrap up would not be complete without a look at the new products and innovations that came to our platform this year. 

Our purpose at Upper Hand is to deliver innovation through technology and design. This means moving fast isn’t just an option – it’s a mindset built into our culture’s DNA. 

There are endless ways to write code when building new features, and a goal of engineering is to build an architecture that supports both the new features while planning for future features. Over time, technical debt, or the friction in rolling out new features, accumulates. Technical debt and bugs will always exist in every software application, the key is to always monitor it, pay the debt down when needed, and find that fine balance.

2020 at Upper Hand was dedicated to improving the overall performance and stability of our software. Our engineering team began a series of code refactors – the process of restructuring key areas of our existing code. While these code refactors aren’t visible, they have many short and long-term benefits. In addition to reducing the risk of future bugs, these “behind-the-scene” adjustments will better set the foundation for us to develop new and innovative features faster than ever.

In addition to these refactors, our team pushed quite a few exciting updates to the platform this year. Check out the highlights below. 

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  • New Event Type: Classes
    • We launched a brand new event type to allow businesses to create and update schedules for individual staff and resources on the fly without creating an entirely new program.
  • Credit Passes
    • We celebrated the addition of Credit Passes; non-recurring packages of credits that clients purchase to book classes and other designated events.
  • New Client Browse Events “Week” View
    • We introduced an entirely new view for clients! The new view drastically simplified the purchasing, booking, and checkout experience with fewer steps, more filters, and a better organization of events.
  • Reminder Notifications
    • We added reminder notifications to enable businesses to send email and text message notifications, giving clients and staff a friendly reminder of upcoming sessions.
  • Product Portal
    • In an effort to create more internal and external transparency, we created the Upper Hand Product Portal. This portal provides a visual roadmap of all software features from the “idea” stage to “launched”.
  • UH Labs
    • We created UH Labs, a new beta testing group for customers to test and submit feedback on new features of Upper Hand releases on a regular basis. Lab Testers are our exclusive group that has a first look at new and innovative features not available to most customers.
  • UP Financial Suite
    • The UP Financial Suite is a reinvented financial solution that provides more flexibility to sports and fitness businesses and makes managing payments easier. It includes a multitude of new payment features for our customers, gives them deeper insights into their clients and the overall financial health of their business, and allows our team to spin out new features quicker for future innovation.

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In addition to these highlights, our team worked on many other innovative projects throughout the year. 

    • Item Specific Coupon Codes
    • Updated Image Uploader
    • Updated Pay Later Receipts
    • Staff Member Refund Access
    • Quick Schedule Discounts
    • Session Summary Drawer Check-In
    • Client Email Preferences
    • New Retail and Purchase Receipts
    • Membership History Drawer

As we mentioned at the beginning of this wrap-up, we know that change and challenges breed innovation. We are proud to have been able to do our part to support the industry we love in 2020, and will continue to uphold our mission of bettering the sports and fitness community in the coming year. Thank you to our customers and friends, and cheers to 2021. 

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