Strava pedals in $3.5M

Faith Merino · January 12, 2011 · Short URL:

The service for athletes gets funding from Sigma Partners

How did people ever exercise before the iPod was invented?  And how did people ever run, bike, or climb prior to the invention of GPS technology?  It’s mindboggling!

The deep integration of mobile technology and fitness has not escaped investors.  One new fitness startup, Strava, announced Wednesday that it has closed a $3.5 million Series A round led by Sigma Partners.

Strava is not your run-of-the-mill workout/weight-loss app.  Rather, it’s a platform for avid athletes—those who exercise three or more times a week and participate in their preferred sport/activity 50+ times a year.  The service is pretty simple to use.  The user simply takes his/her GPS-enabled device on a route and records the data, and then uploads the data to the Strava site, where he or she can compare performance on past routes, keep track of personal bests and milestones, and challenge him or herself on future routes.  The Strava Mobs—the communities of athletes using Strava—allows users to share their rides with other athletes to compete or offer useful tips and information about preferred routes and rides.

The site currently focuses primarily on cyclists, but the latest infusion of capital will help the service expand to offer more features for avid runners and climbers as well.  “The key for serving the avid athlete is to address the nuance of each individual sport,” said Strava CEO Michael Horvath in an email.

So what makes Strava different from the myriad other fitness apps and communities out there, like MapMyFitness and Nike+?  For one thing, Strava doesn’t require the use of any specific app or device.  An athlete need only have a GPS-enabled device to track and record routes, which means that athletes can use the service whether they have an iPhone, Android device, iPod Touch, etc. 

The service also offers much more comprehensive information on the athlete’s performance.  Dynamic maps show users how they performed at specific points in the route, where they hit inclines, and so on.   “The main difference between Strava and others within the social fitness/Personal Data Tracking space  (ie: MapMyFitness), is that it caters to a different audience. While others provide great solutions for more casual workout purposes, Strava feeds the avid athlete,” said Horvath.

The company got its start when Horvath and several friends decided to build a cycling club on the Web so that they could compete and share their rides despite living in different parts of the country and having different schedules.  The site grew organically from there.  Founded in early 2010, the Strava community has grown to 10,000 users in all 50 states and 67 countries, and increases 20% each month, with no marketing to date.

Avid athletes account for 25% of all U.S. households and GPS usage among avid athletes is expected to balloon more than fourfold over the next five years.

“We recognized the strength of Strava’s team, and the unique focus and success of its products,” said Greg Gretsch, Partner at Sigma Partners, in a prepared statement. “The social fitness space is rapidly evolving and we believe Strava’s precision of focus, understanding of its key audiences, and the depth of its technical solution will drive its success.”

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