Brian Wang was awkwardly thin.Richard (Dick) Talens was overweight.
The once body-conscious teenagers now have eight-pack abs and a fitness startup that’s exploding, Fitocracy.
Fitocracy is a social network for fitness that was founded at the end of 2010. The site pairs Talens and Wang’s love of video games with their desire to stay in shape. On Fitocracy, users can follow other members’ workout schedules, comment on them, share photos, and receive points for strenuous workouts.
“Even though we started getting into all this meat-head stuff, we were still nerds at heart,” Wang tells us of founding Fitocracy. “We wanted to make people more addicted to fitness and make fitness more accessible to them. Exercising doesn’t have to be daunting.”
The first few months of Fitocracy were slow. Reddit sent some initial traffic to the then-invite only site and Fitocracy crept up to 30,000 users by August.
But a cartoon marked Fitocracy’s tipping point.
Fitocracy, which doesn’t allow users to gain exercise points for having sex, was featured on XKCD last summer:
Photo: XKCD via Fitocracy
The webcomic sent a flood of people and Fitocracy gained 20,000 new users in two weeks.
That fall, Fitocracy was accepted into Dave McClure’s 500 Startups accelerator program in Mountain View, which led to a seed round of financing.
On March 1, Fitocracy came back to New York and the traffic surge continued.
Now the startup has four employees and more than 250,000 users. Its iPhone app, which launched three weeks ago, has been downloaded 125,000 times. The free app peaked at #52 in the App Store and it’s been reviewed more than 1,700 times. The average time spent on Fitocracy is over 10 minutes, says Wang.
“Dick and I believe fitness isn’t some esoteric thing that only a portion of the population can do. A lot of people don’t believe they can get in shape,” says Wang. “If we can give them a perfect place, with a community, fitness knowledge and a gamified tracking experience, we can make fitness a reality for people.”
Here’s what both founders looked like before they got on health kicks:
Dick Talens, then and now:
Brian Wang, then and now: