GLOBAL – Training to be a top athlete is a focused and solitary business, but most of us just want to get a bit fitter, and it helps if you can get some motivation from your friends. That’s why apps like Endomondo Sports Tracker allow you to track your workouts on your Nokia Lumia, analyze your training, and challenge other people to take part in activities.
Endomondo is a sort of ‘social-sports’ app, agrees one of its Danish founders, Mette Lykke.
Lykke was a dressage rider, turned management consultant, in Copenhagen when the idea struck:
“The three of us who founded Endomondo were working as consultants. In fact, we all started our jobs at McKinsey on the same day.”
One of her co-founders, Jacob was an elite runner. The other, Christian, was an avid skier.
“We had a shared vision about helping the world to exercise, and we really wanted to engage people in the social dimension to fitness.”
An app that shows you the results of your workout makes you feel good for about five minutes, Lykke says, but it won’t motivate you to keep going out there and doing it again. An app that lets you compete with a friend, or get pep talks, is much more likely to be successful in motivating you in the long term.
Together they combined a passion for sport with skills learned as management consultants, “We learned how to prioritize,” and an interest in mobile technology.
“We didn’t come from a tech background, but we were fascinated by what technology could do – and we were convinced that GPS was a really powerful tool for fitness.”
While they never came close to giving up on their dream, Lykke admits, she underestimated how long it would take to make any money from their new business: “It was 18 months before we could take a salary, and we hadn’t anticipated that. We all had to borrow.”
Like training in sport, part of the process was “believing that the next milestone was always just around the corner,” and a flurry of exciting feedback from users kept her going:
“We’d get messages from people saying things like – ‘I used to be lying on the coach and now I’ve run a marathon’,” she says.
Working in Copenhagen gave Endomondo great access to Nokia, Lykke says, and the company redesigned the basis of the app to use on Windows Phone.
“Until then we’d basically used the same app, tweaked for different platforms. But we found the user experience so different on Windows Phone, in a positive way, and we wanted to take better advantage of that. We basically redesigned the app from the ground up.”
Lykke admits, it’s been a while since she did any dressage. She recently moved from Copenhagen to Silicon Valley, and has also given birth to a new baby.
“Being in California is a big change. There is a different mindset here, and you drive around and see the big names. It’s inspiring,”
Copenhagen remains a great place for tech start-ups, but now Endomondo has taken off, and its founders are racing towards new goals: “Out here,” Lykke says “somehow it’s easy to see a big vision.”