Racefully is the only app of its kind, letting friends run together virtually in real time wherever they are in the world. Having just launched last Thursday, the company is on the verge of launching a Crowdcube fundraise. Co-founder Chris Pointon speaks to GrowthBusiness about how the idea came about for this ‘park in your pocket’ app, and the UK’s growing ‘FitTech’ sector
From the first round of Tech Invest four short years ago to now, 19 of the presenting companies have raised funding, two floated on AIM and two have been acquired. GrowthBusiness presents the top 13 Tech Innovators of the year.
Racefully – a snapshot
Racefully is the first truly social fitness app, allowing you to exercise virtually with people in real time, wherever they are in the world. We’re capitalising on a predicted $5bn activity tracker market (by 2019), with innovative IP, a smart B2C and B2B offering and a rapidly growing user base.
Based in: London
Founded in: September 2014
No. of employees: 6
Presenting at Tech Invest: Chris Pointon, co-founder
A seasoned entrepreneur and technologist, Chris has worked in mobile apps for major brands, massively multiplayer games, and social media. He has been the technical co-founder of several companies, with two exits behind him, including one to Sony Music.
Stuff happens in business, and for every missed opportunity there’s a lucky break, so I tend not to dwell on what might-have-been. My past two companies were bootstrapped and funded by a single industry-sector investor respectively, so I didn’t start Racefully with a field of backers of prior business to help get us off the ground. Consequently my co-founder David and I needed to spend time building the investor network for Racefully – time that could have been spent on the business itself. If I had done more to increase the range of my contacts while running the previous businesses, we might have funded and therefore launched sooner.
Ultimate business motto?
I don’t really go in for slogans. Maybe “pay it forward”? I find if you treat people well – team, customers, investors, partners – good things can happen in unexpected ways.
What motivates your team?
We have a highly talented team, all of whom chose to work on Racefully because it’s the running app we had been looking for, and we are laser-focused on making it the best in the world. Our culture, like the product, is all about sharing the experience – of running together, of building a business together – while challenging and supporting one-another.
Along with the rest of the Racefully team, I’m deeply worried about the impact of Brexit on an existential level, not just for business. The collection of talent in our team – from Spain, Portugal, Canada as well as the UK – is only possible because London is an open, international centre, and I can’t see how Brexit can do anything but reduce openness and internationalism. Racefully addresses a worldwide market, so on the revenue side we’re not expecting a great impact. However we pay several members of the team in Euros, and most of the backend and business services we use charge in Dollars, so the weak Pound is driving up our costs. Finally, we’re an early-stage business that requires investment to grow and prosper, so we’re very concerned about the impact a rattled financial sector will have on angel and seed investment.
- Racefully fitness app iOS v1.04
- Live runs, enabling up to 8 people round the world to run together virtually, wherever they are
- Proprietary environment equaliser, which adjusts on the fly for differences in environment and conditions, to make sure comparisons between runners in different locations are fair
- Detailed race narration, letting runners know how they’re doing relative to each other throughout the run
- Friend finder and runner matching
- Solo run function
- Apple Healthkit integrated
- Apple watch app in development
- In-app voice communication (enabling messaging like voice chat) in development
- Android launch due in 2017
- Racefully’s realtime smartphone race system enables a multi-player gamified experience for up to 8 runners, with position and performance updates delivered through an audio race commentary.
- Normalisation algorithms adjust for gradient and wind resistance throughout the run. Backend systems use Amazon’s latest serverless architecture to deliver secure, scalable on-demand performance.
- Fundraising: The business raised £275,000 raised from friends, family and private angels, including the previous global COO of Skype and previous UK MD of Gumtree
- Awards: Racefully is the winner of London Sport Technology Innovation Fund 2016 Award, has been rated as one of the top four companies on any UK crowdfunding platform when it raised seed funding on Syndicate Room; one of six (out of over 200) companies to be selected for TechnoGym’s 2015/16 Wellness Accellerator
- Intellectual Property: Provisional patent granted in the UK, applications also in the US and Hong Kong
- In beta: Racefully app in private beta, with enthusiastic feedback from community of over 200 early-access users.
- Full commercial launch in the AppStore on Thursday, 7th July 2016
- Racefully aims to grow from 5,000 to 30,000 sign-ups in next three months, aiming to pass 100,000 in early 2017
- The business also plans to launch community and branded tribes functionality by September 2016, enabling people to run and race together in teams. Branded tribes will be one of its first commercial B2B offerings
- By the second quarter of 2017, Racefully plans to launch an Android version
- Active Aid: cross-promotion deal, official app partner
- Tribe Snacks: cross-promotion deal
- Newton running shoes: cross-promotion deal
- Tribe Sports: cross-promotion deal
- H-Farm: TechnoGym Wellness Accelerator business development network
- Vivid drinks, Propercorn, The Good Blend, WellFed: cross-promotional deal, launch event partner
- Previous global COO of Skype
- Previous UK MD of Gumtree
- Founder of UK Tech Track 100 Company
- Late stage tech venture capitalist
- Senior market analyst at energy trading company
- HR professional, ex-Jumeirah Group, Serco and Bayer