Quentin Auberger is UK Director for Sport Heroes Group, a collection of websites that rewards runners, cyclists and skiers with discounts every time they participate in their sport. Despite only being founded in 2014, they have already developed a highly engaged community of over 400,000 members and more than 350 brand partners.
We met with Quentin to learn how they had been able to build such rapid traction and what he would consider to be the key factors in launching a technology platform in the fitness industry.
The Fitness Network:
There are so many businesses attempting to launch technology platforms but few do so successfully. From your experience with Sport Heroes Group, what would you say were the most important things to consider?
1. Focus on the user
You must build something that’s entirely about the user, in our case that’s runners, cyclists and skiers. By providing a great user experience, the early adopters keep coming back and bring their friends with them, whereas if we had prioritised something else, such as monetisation or making it more appealing to the brands, the user experience would have been damaged and we never would have achieved the growth required to make this a success. It’s all about the user.
2. Understand that your primary performance metric is engagement
There are so many metrics you can focus on – website traffic, revenue, brand reach, etc – but they can all be misleading. The metric to concentrate on, particularly in the early stages, has to be engagement. How long are they on the platform for? How often do they return? As long as engagement is rising then in time so will everything else.
Engagement is also key to the brands we work with. After all, if all they care about is reach then there are other ways of achieving it, but what we offer them is the opportunity to be associated with a truly engaged community.
3. Don’t pester the user. Let the product drive their action
While engagement is key, we try to refrain from pestering the user too much. It’s far better to focus on the user experience and that will then drive the engagement. We generally only send out one newsletter a week and on Facebook we try to limit our activity to just one post a day. Social media and email is really important, but we want to inspire people through great content and a great product rather than bombard them with information they’re not interested in.
4. Keep it simple
One of the most common mistakes with building platforms is that they become too complicated. With Running Heroes you go for a run, earn points and get discounts. That’s it. This simplicity is key during the early stages as people are impatient and if your product is too complex then they won’t give it a chance.
5. Stay focused on what you do best
You must ensure that you remain focused on the one thing you believe you can do better than anybody else, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other opportunities. At a very early stage it would have been easy for us to have become a running app, but we looked at the running app market and saw that it was just too competitive and we didn’t think we had anything to add, so rather than focusing on during the run, we focused on after the run. That’s what we believed we could do best, and that focus has allowed us to carve out a clear identity in an otherwise saturated marketplace.