New RunKeeper Features Aim To Bring the Fitness Class Experience To Your Phone

10/7/10Follow @xconomy

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another, fund-raise for the race through a different organization, publicize it all to their friends on a different social networking site, and so on.

Jacobs started FitnessKeeper two years ago with the intention of extracting the running analytics offered by Nike’s Plus system to a wider community and broader array of devices. The RunKeeper app was one of the first 200 apps available in Apple’s iTunes App Store, which now boasts more than 250,000 apps. And Jacobs has done some pretty interesting things to get some buzz out about the tool in the meantime: running the 2009 Boston Marathon decked in a lycra iPhone costume, and reprising the trip in 2010, alongside a co-worker, who donned an Android phone outfit to promote the newest platform for the app.

For those who don’t have phones cool enough for the RunKeeper app (myself, ahem), you can engage with the RunKeeper community for free online, and can manually enter your distances run and look for new routes. There’s also a paid, premium Web version called RunKeeper Elite, which enables users to broadcast their run progress in real-time, and also offers rich analytics and fitness reports on how users are progressing and compare to others in the RunKeeper community. It charges $19.99 a year or $4.99 a month for that service, but Elite members will get 50 percent off the classes RunKeeper offers.

Speaking of money, FitnessKeeper—which has grown to seven full-time employees and now boasts more than 2.5 million downloads total—is taking a cut of each fitness class it sells, much in the way that Apple and Google profit off of each sale on their app stores. The startup raised $400,000 in seed money last November, but Jacobs says the company isn’t eyeing any outside financing at this point. They’ve been profitable every month since inception, he says.

The classes and race pages are just another way of developing the RunKeeper product into what Jacobs sees as a broader fitness platform for the community of runners. (The app also integrated with the WiFi-connected BodyScale bathroom scale from Withings, enabling runners to track their weight and body mass index alongside their runs on RunKeeper.)

“It’s about building the right mix of things to create a compelling experience for our users,” he says. “I feel sometimes like we’re social chemists, trying to get that right mix.”

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