Hello Missoula! ClassPass CEO ties company’s growth to job recruiting in the Garden City

ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman details the company’s plans for growth, its keys to success and why it chose Missoula over 900 other cities it considered during a presentation held on Wednesday night. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

In something that resembled a college rave with a fitness twist, ClassPass introduced itself to Missoula on Wednesday night during a festive recruitment party that highlighted the company’s ambitious plans for growth.

With beer on tap and the workout jams pumping over Bose speakers, a decidedly younger crowd packed the Public House in downtown Missoula, filling out applications in hopes of landing a good-paying job with an international company that’s on the rise.

As ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman said, those future employees will earn a living in Missoula while traveling to some of the world’s more glamorous cities, including New York, San Francisco and London.

“We really want people to be in Missoula,” Lanman told the crowd. “We think New York and San Francisco and some of our other offices might lead to some people moving here, which we’re excited about. And if some of you guys wanted to explore some of these other places, we have those other offices in the world.”

Lanman, fresh off a flight from San Francisco, mixed with the audience before taking the stage to describe the company’s plans for growth, its keys to success and why it chose Missoula over 900 other cities it considered.

ClassPass opened its third North American office in downtown Missoula last week, and it’s now looking to fill as many as 50 local jobs as the company grows and launches new products. In the future, the number of employees based in Missoula could grow.

“It’s pretty unbelievable that we ended up choosing Missoula,” Lanman said, describing the nationwide search, the consulting team and the algorithm that put Missoula on the map of potential locations.

“ClassPass is an active lifestyle company, and we wanted to choose a place that shared the ethos of what we’re all about, which is getting people out into the world doing stuff,” he added. “We wanted a place where we could be bringing jobs that aren’t super prevalent into the town, and we wanted a place where some of our employees from New York and San Francisco might be interested in moving.”

While other cities, including Fort Collins, Colorado and Salt Lake City, made the short list, Lanman said the executive team “fell in love” with Missoula. The city’s active culture and progressive ways played strongly in its favor.

It was, Lanman said, the perfect fit.

“We ended up choosing this place because we fell in love with it,” he said. “It promotes the active lifestyle and progressive thinking and type of culture we were looking to be a part of. We thought we could contribute to this community.”

Prospective employers explore the job offerings at ClassPass, which opened its third North American office in downtown Missoula last week. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

ClassPass has ambitious plans for the coming year as it looks to expand its reach and add new products. Lanman said the company’s “shoot-for-the-moon” mentality isn’t unlike that of Google, Microsoft and Facebook, which started with an equally inspired vision.

To unlock that vision, Lanman said ClassPass employs technology to motivate and connect people to “soul-nurturing experiences.” On the outside, the company resembles Netflix and Spotify in design, where members pay a monthly subscription to access a service, that being studio fitness in the case of ClassPass.

But the company is more than fitness, Lanman said – it gets users into the world for rich and rewarding experiences. While it’s adding more fitness and active-lifestyle options, it’s also looking outside the box, from volunteer opportunities to Rocky Mountain recreation.

“We want to take all the friction out of the process and be the connecting system between people and helping them become the best person they can be,” he said. “I think we’ll think a lot about some of the active lifestyle choices here – the skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing and hunting. Anything that helps you become a more inspired version of yourself is fair game to our mission statement.”

Lanman said the market is big and getting bigger, and ClassPass has found itself on the front end of what he described as a multi-million dollar industry. The company was founded in 2013 by Payal Kadakia and has been recognized by the likes of Forbes for its financial potential.

ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman

“Uber, Expedia, the food-delivery apps, these are aggregators that built really big, really valuable businesses by sitting on top of these industries and helping route their entities to suppliers,” said Lanman. “That’s what we’re doing in fitness, and we’re really excited about where we’re going.”

Along with frictionless booking, a growing network of partners and a custom social networking tool, the company’s engine grows smarter the more a subscriber uses it. Over time, Lanman said, it creates a personal playlist of “cool stuff to do.”

“That’s the dream, that everyone opens this app and we give you a curated playlist of amazing ways to invest in yourself and become a healthier, happier and more inspired person,” he said. “We have a really good market share, and in the tech scene we’ve had a lot of press and recognition. It’s a very high visibility company.”

To keep it that way and realize its potential, ClassPass is looking to grow beyond the major metros where it found early success. It’s placing its bet on Missoula, where it’s building inside sales and customer support teams.

“The biggest thing constraining our growth is hiring great people into our Missoula office,” Lanman said. “This is why we’re here. We need to ramp this thing up. It’s working and we need more firepower. That was the impetus for our move, to support our No. 1 strategic priority, which is growth.”