David Longdon and Justin Huff believe that the experience — not the data — is what drives people to continue exercise routines over time.
That’s the premise for motion.social, a fitness app they created that relies more on connecting people around common interests than beating your last mile time (or trying to beat your friends).
Longdon is the co-manager of Cascade Bicycle Club and he produces the Velocity cycling blog for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His background in Pacific Northwest fitness is complemented by Huff’s as a tech exec. Huff was an early hire and Picnik and co-founder of PicMonkey, a photo editing startup in Seattle.
“We are avid recreational athletes with deep personal connections to Seattle’s cycling and running communities,” said Longdon, who serves as CEO of motion.social.
We caught up with Longdon for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “A smarter way to plan and share fitness activities with your friends, groups, clubs, and teams.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We recognized that group fitness activities, whether with formal teams or simply with friends, are the primary social hub for millions in the U.S. and across the globe. We also recognized that planning and carrying out these activities is harder than it should be. So we started to look deeper at some of the obstacles and unmet needs.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap and Angel, because we prefer the flexibility and control that comes with a minimum of outside investors.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Most existing fitness tools are based on the assumption that folks have a training and performance orientation. The current evidence is that a training and performance orientation is great for folks who are highly self-motivated and have a clear training objective like an upcoming race. Unfortunately, most folks who use fitness trackers actually gain weight.
In contrast, motion.social is built around the simple idea of bringing people together to do fitness activities. The motion.social user experience deemphasizes competition, performance data, and stack-ranking in favor of enabling and supporting the enjoyment and social benefits that come from moving our bodies with friends. Motion.social is based on the idea that fitness groups and the activities they do together are the most important social hubs for millions of us.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “As founders, we’ve brought complimentary skills and experiences to this project.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Like all founders, we second guess many of our decisions, and it’s hard to discern which may be mistakes, but here are a couple possibilities:
We are initially focused on getting established here in the Pacific Northwest. The use of motion.social is weather-dependent, so our launch timing last fall, as well as this year’s wet weather, may be a limiter on early adoption.
Our competition includes email groups, invite systems, group texts, and generic tools like Meetup and Facebook, all of which are formidable competitors that we may have underestimated.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Zuckerberg: motion.social has the audacious goal of becoming the go-to social hub for fitness. The Facebook founder’s experience with building a social network would be an obvious benefit to us.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “An easy run in the woods.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Curiosity! We love people who want to try new things, as well as learn from them.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “There is a 90 percent chance you will fail. Inspire the rest of us by trying anyway!”
Editor’s note: GeekWire Chairman Jonathan Sposato is a co-founder of Picnik and PicMonkey.