Tech: International fitness company to open third North American office in Missoula

ClassPass, the world’s largest fitness network, plans to locate its third North American office in Missoula early next year, providing 50 jobs and connections to New York and San Francisco. (ClassPass photo)

The world’s largest fitness network said Wednesday it will open its third North American office in Missoula next year, a nod to the city’s growing tech sector, its progressive culture and quality of life.

ClassPass, which also claims offices in New York and San Francisco – and international offices in London and Sydney – plans to open in the Millennium building in downtown Missoula. The company looks to fill 40 positions upon opening and grow to 50 once it’s established.

“They’re looking to open quickly, in either February or March,” said Jenni Graff, director of economic development at the Missoula Economic Partnership. “This company has a sophisticated growth strategy, a global reach, and it has undergone extensive fundraising rounds with well-funded (venture capital) firms.”

ClassPass, founded by Payal Kadakia in 2013, serves as a boutique subscription service to fitness classes around the world. The service provides access to more than 1 million classes, benefiting both its members and its 8,500 gym and studio partners in 49 worldwide cities.

Earlier this month, the company also announced a new service enabling subscribers to live stream workouts produced in the company’s Brooklyn studio. Missoula’s active culture and educated workforce fit the company’s corporate mission of promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

“We wanted to find a city that was a fit for our mission and culture – a place that offers an active lifestyle and access to inspiring experiences, a progressive mindset, forward thinking civic leaders and a respected university,” said Fritz Lanman, the company’s CEO. “Missoula checks all those boxes and more.”

James Grunke, president and CEO of MEP, said the site selection firm contracted by the company narrowed its search to 17 candidate cities, including those in Colorado, Utah and Montana. The company’s executive team met with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and MEP to vet Missoula as a potential location.

The Garden City fit the company’s corporate culture and provided other unique opportunities, including a mountain getaway for city-bound employees in New York and San Francisco.

“The lifestyle of Missoula very much fits their corporate culture,” Grunke said. “The quality of life and active lifestyle were major decision points. They were also very enthusiastic about programs at the University of Montana and Missoula College to prepare their workforce. We’re thrilled to be in the company of New York and San Francisco.”

The company’s app enables subscribers to determine when a fitness class is available. It gives patrons more flexibility while helping studios and gyms sell their unused inventory.

Given its international success and expansion, ClassPass was listed by Forbes as a “Next Billion Dollar Startup” and was ranked by Deloitte’s 2017 Technology Fast 500 as the second fastest growing company in North America.

“They just happen to have a disruptive technology in an industry where Missoula excels – the health and wellness technology sector,” said Graff. “The fact they’re in the tech sector and health and wellness fits with our own strategic aspirations in Missoula.”

Within its first year, the new downtown location is expected to hire up to 50 employees with estimated annual salaries ranging from $30,000 to $150,000 for non-technical and technical roles.

ClassPass expects its Missoula team to grow further in subsequent years. The site selection team from Newmark Knight Frank said Missoula proved to be a good fit for ClassPass and its international vision.

“Missoula offers ClassPass the opportunity to become an employer of choice in a smaller, highly educated location whose culture matches their company mission of promoting healthy and active lifestyles,” said Chris Volney, Newmark’s managing director. “The high quality of life in Missoula and quality workforce will be a perfect fit for the ClassPass team as they put down roots and grow in the community.”