The UK technology start-up Eastnine was only founded in September but is out of the blocks fast, having already released the beta version of its coaching app for runners and raised £2 million in seed investment. Based in East London, Eastnine hopes to replicate the success of other activities-coaching apps such as Calm. The meditation-coaching app quickly passed the 1 million paying subscribers milestone last year and Eastnine believe there is no reason the same model targeted at runners can’t be just as successful.
Fitness apps are not new but what Eastnine is proposing is a far broader and more engaging app-based service that seeks to make the transition from ‘instruction and tracking’ to ‘coaching’.
Eastnine’s co-founders include Jason Goodman, already a successful entrepreneur having built and exited advertising and management consultancy Albion. The rest of the start-up’s founding team are Cat Forrest, a former professional high jumper with a subsequent background in marketing, software engineer David McCreary and Matt Harrison, who also comes from a consultancy background as a former director of Seymourpowell.
The Eastnine app, a free beta version is currently available for iOS with Android to follow, delivers lessons that runners listen to while exercising. The coaching covers all kinds of running from 5k park runs to marathon training and sprinting. Lessons are devised and recorded by professional athletes. The founders believe this is an important ‘filter’ that sets Eastnine apart from content offered by YouTubers and Instagram stars and means users can be confident they are being coached by qualified professionals.
Ms Forrest explains:
“Coming out of pro sport and into the real world, you go from understanding fitness to, ‘How the hell do I train?’ “I spent four months trying to figure out how to be disciplined through the winter when it’s cold and dark . . . wondering, ‘What do I do, what’s the best way to train?’ That’s the norm for the majority of people.”
Eastnine’s ambitions do not stop with one running app, however good. The aim is to develop the company into a broader sports and fitness-coaching audio and video subscription service. Initial backers to have participated in the £2 million seed investment round included Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström and Ilkka Paananen, founder of the hugely successful Finnish mobile gaming company Supercell. It was led by venture capital companies Local Globe and Cherry Ventures.