One startup, one story: what if you could run faster without training harder?

How an analytics platform can improve your running experience. Let’s meet Smashrun.

People who like running know there’s lot of apps, tracking devices and other gizmos that tell you how fast you ran, over what distance and so on. The devices collect a lot of data, but often they don’t do much with it.

Two running enthusiasts – American Christopher Lukic and Jacklyn Giron from the Philippines – used many different running apps, but found the results were lacking. Often difficult to understand, they provided an overload of information, rather than good insight.

Christopher and Jacklyn agreed they could do better, and set about creating an app that presents and logs data in a more intuitive way. Initially built as a fun tool for friends and family, they noticed Smashrun was being used by runners all over the world. They began monetizing the service in 2013.

What Christopher and Jacklyn had discovered was that good data visualization helps you delve inside your run by teasing out patterns and dependencies. For example, do you perform better on downhill or uphill? On a particular day, perhaps you didn’t do that well. Was there anything out of the ordinary about your run? With Smashrun, you’ll know when you’re improving and when you start to plateau. More importantly, you’ll see when it’s okay to push on and when you need to cut back.

Another Smashrun absolute is that logging runs shouldn’t be a hassle. You can manually add a run in seconds, and it’s easy to import data already collected on other devices and apps, whether it be in GPX, TCX, or HRM format, or stored on a Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, or Nike+ device.

Smashrun stores and graphs years of data – giving runners a new perspective on their entire running history. It’s free, easy to use, and kind of addictive (in a good way). Aware that running can be monotonous, Smashrun invented some quirky badges to help motivate Smashrunners, particularly on those sluggish, difficult days. As Jacklyn points out, human beings have been rewarding accomplishment with symbols or tokens of respect for thousands of years.

Lots of running apps award badges to users to get them to run faster and compete with friends, but no-one else has offered prizes for running to the four corners of the world, on the Summer Solstice, or on Pike’s Peak, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountain range. So taken was a Techradar journalist that he set himself the challenge of earning every badge within a year – not an easy task. The rarest badge is the Two by 365 by 10k, which requires users to run 10km every other day for an entire year. Only two people have ever earned it.

In just a few years, traffic had spiked, particularly in Europe. The Smashrun team wanted to move closer to their European client base, but Schengen visa rules meant they had to move every three months.

They applied for and won a place on the French Tech Ticket Global Startup competition, which gave them a small amount of capital to grow their business – and a three-year visa. Since then, they’ve already noted that the French go for longer runs than Americans, are more competitive, and use more trackers!

If you’d like to know more about startups in France, click here to read the new Business France book about 35 success stories.

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