In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Eric Brownrout, co-founder and CEO of Perform, a running coaching platform making professional training more accessible. Eric explains the white space between expensive 1:1 training and cheap generic plans, and how making the coaching experience more efficient has led to partnerships with professional runners like Olympian Meb Keflezighi.
Can you tell us about what you are working on at Perform?
Eric Brownrout: At Perform, we use technology to democratize access to high quality coaching and training for runners.
Every runner who signs up for Perform is paired with their own personal running coach and has access to our smart training app. Their coach builds them a personalized training plan in the app and supports them through their running journey with feedback, accountability and motivation.
As runners train and progress through their workouts, their plans continue to adapt based on their fitness and results. Our program starts at just $39/month. and offers a new solution for runners that exists between cheap generic plans and more expensive boutique coaching.
This is made possible through our unique coaching model. We hire and train our own team of talented coaches, including pro racers and ex-pro racers. Our exclusive Athlete Management System improves training efficiency by streamlining training plan updates and communication with athletes, turning Perform Coaches into Super Coaches.
By improving the effectiveness of our own talent, we are able to make high quality coaching more affordable for the everyday runner.
How did you come up with the idea? What key idea led you to pursue this opportunity?
EB: Today, aspiring or current runners have two main options when seeking expertise to achieve their goals.
First, they can find and hire a personal coach and get tailored programming and feedback, but that’s niche and cost prohibitive. On the other end of the spectrum, runners can use cheap or free workout plans, but they’re generic and can lead to mixed results.
So there are no great solutions for runners that offer true customization without breaking the bank.
That’s what Perform aims to solve because, on a personal level, I’ve seen with my own eyes how huge a difference having someone on my team can make in building a habit. and achieving my goals.
Studies show that committing to someone, checking in with them, and following up with them can improve the odds of success by 95%. For me, he was my brother, an avid runner who supported and coached me through my first marathon from scratch, and I couldn’t have done it without him.
So, what if every runner around the world could have access to this expert in their corner? Towards personalized quality training? 1:1 feedback, empowerment and motivation? It is this prospect that fascinates us.
Our founding team combines a passion for endurance sports with extensive experience in software development. On the racing side, we’ve run over 40 marathons combined, and our Managing Director Leonard Adler is a veteran of the racing industry, with experience coaching runners, producing races and building one of the largest free running communities in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Christian Mathiesen (CTO) and I have been building consumer products together for more than six years after first working together at LinkedIn in 2015.
How did you turn your idea into a business?
EB: Perform started as a passion project (perform.fm) in 2019. The project grew organically to reach tens of thousands of users, and we quit our jobs to focus on Perform full time. . In the first few months, we spoke to thousands of athletes and identified an opportunity to provide professional and affordable training for runners.
We have set up a landing page to validate the request before creating anything new for runners. The landing page included featured features and valuable accessories. Shortly after going live, our first registrations started pouring in. We interviewed these users to find out their needs and they became our first customers.
Our first MVP was an email experience. Although simple, it met the needs of our customers at a basic level. As we onboarded more customers, Perform began to evolve naturally based on their feedback.
Now, just eight months after launch, we’ve transformed Perform into a cross-platform product for our customers and Coaches. We launched a smart training app for runners on iOS and Android, and created in-house coaching software for our team of 20+ coaches. Over that time, we’ve more than doubled our customer base every month (on average), and the product has proven to be incredibly sticky, with 93% retention over 30 days.
Most recently, we partnered with Olympian Meb Keflezighi and announced $1.2 million in pre-seed funding with participation from defy.vc, CPO of Calm, former CPO of Uber, a co-founder of Fitbod, and more.
How big can it get? What is the addressable market and how do you capture it?
EB: We’re just focusing on the 75 million runners in the US to start with. We believe we can help grow the coaching market simply by following our value proposition. In the long term, we believe our technology can power personalized fitness experiences in other endurance sports such as cycling, swimming and triathlon.
Who is the main customer? How do you acquire customers? And how are you going to develop the clientele?
EB: Our clients range from new runners looking for help getting started to experienced runners looking to improve their performance or run a new distance.
We are currently training runners for distances ranging from 5K to ultramarathons. For most of our clients, the common thread is that Perform is their first exposure to running coaching, which is exciting.
We reach customers like them through social media, search and word of mouth. Looking ahead, we are excited to partner with endurance event organizers to provide additional revenue streams and improve their relationships, retention and engagement with runners ahead of their events.
Looking at your roadmap, what are some of the milestones you’re aiming for over the next 3-6 months?
EB: We have been focused on scaling our 1:1 coaching, but the technology we are developing to empower our coaches will also allow us to offer an even more affordable training solution for runners. Keep an eye on this topic in the coming months!
Do you have anything else to share with readers?
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