Run, swim, cycle, repeat: The TriFactory’s fitness formula

The TriFactory’s Sahl Hasheesh Triathlon is happening for the fourth year this November. (Courtesy of The TriFactory)

For the fourth year in a row, the Red Sea resort of Sahl Hasheesh will play host to Egypt’s biggest triathlon organized by The TriFactory, a growing company in the local sports and fitness industry.

From November 16-18, Egyptian athletes will compete in a marathon of sport — running, swimming and cycling their way to the finish line.

With the vision of promoting triathlon awareness in Egypt, The TriFactory launched in 2015 as a sports management company specialized in triathlons, endurance sports and sports events.

The company also founded its own Triathlon Academy across six locations in Cairo, through which it provides fitness classes for triathlons for everyone, regardless of abilities or age.

First played in the 1920s, the triathlon qualified as an Olympic discipline in 2000. The combination of running, swimming and cycling has not been very popular in Egypt until recently, when local sport veterans took it upon themselves to introduce the public as well as the government to the sport.

Ayman Hakky founded The TriFactory after realizing that there is potential for the sport to professionally prosper in Egypt. While there was a clear appetite for triathlon training, there was not nearly enough supply in Egypt.

Testing the waters
As a trial run, The TriFactory organized the Gouna Triathlon in 2014 to test the market. Although Hakky had low expectations in terms of turnout given that the sport was new to Egypt and there were barely any statistics to show the number of triathletes in the country, the event turned out to be a success.

“We are building a sport from scratch,” Hakky says. “We are building the followers and the idea because many people had no clue about the sport.”

While Hakky had been in the sports business for three years, he quickly realized that owning a business was a completely different ball game.

“I was an employee my entire life, so the logistics and the legalities were challenges for me, and they still are,” Hakky says.

Trying to find the right people to work with was also an obstacle at first. “Once I had the team, it became much easier to expand,” says the founder, who now manages 20 employees.

There remains, however, the persistent challenge of working with the government and getting necessary approvals for these large scale events. To do so, connections and perseverance are key to making things happen on the ground.

After months of knocking on doors to approach government officials, The TriFactory led an initiative to push the Ministry of Youth and Sports to back sports organizations and sports events in Egypt. This was uncharted territory for both the company and the government representatives.

“It never gets easier but we built a good reputation and we make contacts so that over time, it becomes easier to secure more approvals when we show them our track record,” Hakky says.

In the market for sports
The TriFactory organizes the annual Sahl Hasheesh Triathlon, the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation Marathon Aswan42, and other events including The Relay Run, the Aquathlon, The Beach Run Series and the ItsWorthATri running campaign.

In 2016, The TriFactory trained and led Egypt’s first ever full Ironman team to success in Ironman Barcelona.

To cater to their customers, The TriFactory’s in-house travel agency manages travel and accommodation for athletes and their families.

“We also organize events and travel services based on touristic attractions. For example, the Aswan42 Marathon took place during the Abu Simbel Sun Festival,” Hakky explains.

To create a friendly feel to their events, The TriFactory introduced the concept of participating as a team rather than individuals.

Through their academy, The TriFactory has an edge in the local fitness scene by having the athletes focus on training for a target as opposed to just general fitness and health. Hakky says this helps keep their customers motivated and interested in the process.

The TriFactory triathlon certified coaches set up a three-month program which ends with a race; however, participants can choose to just attend the program without joining the race.

To measure the program’s success, Hakky and his team quantify the amount of times clients sign up.

Full speed ahead
To move the business forward, The Trifactory launched a service to monitor and train the athletes through its website and application.

“This is the future of training. Some athletes are constrained by the fitness locations. This facilitates the process and creates a one-on-one connection with the trainer since we can monitor their performance through devices like fitness watches,” Hakky says.

By utilizing technology as part of their business model, The TriFactory now offers business-to-business services for other events. They acquired an advanced system that monitors speed and rankings through the participants’ timing chips.

In turn, they are outsourced by other organizers to handle this part in sporting events.

The TriFactory is a private entity so participants cannot earn points to qualify for further races. However, Hakky’s goal is to acquire international accreditations for his business and “establish a name as a credible sports organizer.”

With the vision of growing the base of triathletes in Egypt, Hakky wants to spread The TriFactory’s training locations as well as cement the triathlon as a school activity.

Unfortunately, the lack of facilities and proper infrastructure available in schools could hinder these expansion plans.

With a few big names managing to excel and stand out in the country’s sports arena, the industry is still on the rise.

“If you compare the market in Egypt to other countries, you realize that there is so much potential. The lack of supply means that there is a lot of room for growth,” Hakky says.

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