Case Study

Zen Planner

Pumping Up Growth through Talent, Sales Acceleration and Customer Success

Because of its usability and passionate customer base, Zen Planner always had the raw makings of a successful company, but Mainsail helped us realize our potential. They were dedicated and creative partners from the start. They introduced talented new team members and helped us adjust our product strategy so we were positioned to win in our core vertical markets."
– Jeff Gardner, Zen Planner CEO

At a Glance

  • Tripled Annual Recurring Revenue over 4 years
  • Increased customers 2X while decreasing churn
  • Facilitated company expansion into new fitness verticals
  • Recruited key executives (VP of Sales, Director of Marketing, CTO) and an independent board member
  • Sourced and executed a tuck-in acquisition

the company

Zen Planner is an all-in-one business management software for the health and fitness community. The company’s cloud platform provides end-to-end business management functionality for fitness studios, allowing clients to schedule and pay for classes while equipping business owners with tools to manage their membership, automate emails and even build websites.

the story

When Zen Planner first came on the market, the company’s software helped martial arts businesses manage their membership base. In 2011, Jeff Gardner joined as CEO and saw an opportunity to expand the company across several fitness verticals. He wanted to grow the business into an industry leader in the broader market of Fitness Business Management, and selected Mainsail in 2013 to be his partner.

Mainsail’s value

Talent Acquisition: Mainsail led the recruiting process for three high-value executives, all of whom were called up from Mainsail’s talent network. Chief Technology Officer Dave Martelon, a 15-year veteran software executive was brought in to lead Zen Planner’s engineering team. VP of Sales Phil Stern joined Zen Planner from LogMeIn to become Zen Planner’s VP of Growth. The CTO of OpenTable, Joseph Essas was recruited to Zen Planner’s Board of Directors.

Growth Acceleration: Mainsail helped Zen Planner scale its sales organization and create a repeatable and predictable sales engine to drive growth. Key initiatives included scaling the sales team from 1 to 14 people, building an MDR team, implementing lead scoring and optimizing the pricing model. In partnership with Zen Planner’s leadership team, Mainsail helped modernize the website and build a scalable content strategy to ensure long-term success. In addition to supporting organic growth, Mainsail helped source a tuck-in acquisition of MainStack, a martial arts school software company.

Sales Operations Development: Mainsail helped Zen Planner implement its sales-and-marketing technology stack (Salesforce, HubSpot, and and introduced best practices to optimize the sales process. This enabled the Zen Planner team to better analyze data and track KPIs to drive better decision-making. Armed with this data, the company redefined the lead-to-close deal process, accelerated its sales cycles and improved forecasting capabilities.

Customer Success Buildout: In an effort to increase customer retention, Mainsail helped restructure the company’s customer success team to include specialization in on-boarding, support and success. Mainsail also introduced tools to measure the health of all customers and implemented tracking mechanisms so the company was able to segment its customers and tailor support accordingly.

Product Revamp: With the new technology leadership in place, Zen Planner was ready to implement design sprints and re-platform the entire product. With Mainsail’s help, the company narrowed its focus to three core markets and experienced an aggressive growth trajectory.


Outcome: Zen Planner was acquired by Daxko in 2017

Business Management Software for the Health and Fitness Community
  • LOCATION: Denver, CO
  • SECTOR: Software-as-a-Service (SAAS)
  • CEO: Jeff Gardner
  • FOUNDED IN: 2006
  • INVESTED IN: 2013