- People have uploaded over 1 billion activities onto Strava.
- The company wants people to see its app as more than just an activity tracker.
- So it’s making some changes to the platform over the next year.
Strava is planning to make changes to its platform over the next year that will make the fitness app feel more like a traditional social network, the company’s CEO told Business Insider.
Strava CEO James Quarles, a former executive at Facebook and Instagram, said that he wants Strava to become much more than an app for simply recording activities.
The company, which competes with the likes of RunKeeper, My Fitness Pal, and Nike+ Running, has already started making some initial tweaks. “We launched in October the ability to create a non-activity post so that can either be a text or a photo or a link with an embedded video,” said Quarles.
“That was all born from just looking at how people have been bending the product up to this point of commenting and asking questions. We thought how can we make this just a natural experience. If you wanted to ask your following base: ‘Hey, I’m going to buy a new watch, which watch do you prefer?’ that would be a good use of a question in a post.”
Since the changes were implemented Strava users have taken to posting photo montages of cycling races and sharing articles along the lines of “the top 10 tips for hikers,” Quarles said.
Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Strava is now used by tens of millions of people worldwide and over 1 billion activities have been uploaded onto the platform. Running and cycling are by far the most popular but the app also allows people to record hikes, swims, and gym sessions, among other things.
The US is the company’s largest market but 82% of Strava’s community are now outside of its home country, Quarles said, and London is the company’s most popular city.
More changes are in the pipeline for Strava, according to Quarles, who took over as CEO in May, leaving his role as VP of Instagram Business in the process.
“We want to also make it easier for people travelling to find the best places to ride, where’s a group of people or club I should join, [or the] best place to grab coffee,” said Quarles. “All that information exists in our product so we want to more things to help open it up for more of that discovery experience. So that’s a big part of what we’ll be focusing on in the coming year.”
Investors including Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia have backed Strava with $US70 million (£52 million) but the company – which employs 150 people across San Francisco, New Hampshire, and Bristol in the UK – is not yet profitable.
“That’s a deliberate choice,” said Quarles. “We want to continue to grow the size of the community and invest in the experience and I think we will be keeping an eye on the financial markets.”
Strava has three main revenue streams
The three main ways that Strava makes money are:
1. Subscription: Strava charges users £5.99 or £44.99 a year for access to a premium version of its app, which comes with more insights and a “beacon” feature that allows friends and family to follow your whereabouts when you’re running or cycling in unknown areas. There’s also insurance on your phone for when you’re cycling and discounts at stores like New Balance. Quarles said:
“We’ve got the premium subscription service which people elect for as they want to get more statistics and analysis on their training.”
Quarles refused to say how many of Strava’s users are using the premium service or comment more generally about the company’s finances.
2. Metro: Strava charges transport authorities like Transport for London a fee to access the data that’s hosted on its platform. Quarles said:
“Metro is where we take the pedestrian and cycling data, we aggregate and anonymise it and then work with departments of transportation around the globe in order to use it for better impact analysis and planning of infrastructure and even safety measurements. “
3. Strava for Business: Strava partners with companies like Lululemon, and Rapha, and Oakley on “challenges.” The companies essentially sponsor a challenge that is seen and completed by Strava’s users. Quarles said:
“We’re starting to think about other ways in which businesses can enhance the community experience and participate to make Strava more fun and more interesting. We have a number of ideas there that we’ll be trialling over the next six months with brand partners being a more prominent part but I think a value added part of people’s experience.”
Strava has no plans to get into hardware
Quarles said that Strava has no plans to build any of its own hardware in the near future.
“I think one of our greatest strengths as a company is that we’re so independent and agnostic when it comes to devices,” he said. “We have partnerships with Garmin, Fitbit, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear. We’ve got 300 devices that can write to Strava.”
He added: “This open strategy of being the Switzerland within fitness has served us really well and I think we’re very committed to it. We don’t want’ to change that. I also think hardware is particularly hard – it’s a different business model. We’ve got software engineers, we’re really great at software and consumer experiences and I think that’s where our investments will continue to go.”