What You and Your Business Can Learn From Strava


My cycling buddies have been using Strava for years to track their rides. Strava, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is a phone app that you can use to track your physical activity. While this is not novel, the appeal of Strava is that like Facebook; you can see what your friends are doing and comment on their activity. Unlike Facebook there is honesty in postings because your whole activity is measured, not just what you want the world to see. The other great thing about Strava is that there is a sense of positivity that you won’t always find on Facebook. On Strava you won’t often see politics, religion or medicine, nor will you find a barrage of advertising. The comments on Strava are encouraging and the app is meant to be fun.


Using Strava you can have one of up to 30 different activities tracked including bike rides, runs, swims, skis, paddle, wheelchair, or even an E-bike ride or a rock climb. Your friends can follow your routes and you yourself can compare how you did over a particular segment compared to your last time or anyone else who has ever used the platform. The idea is that you will be motivated by what others are doing, you will have fun commenting on their activities, and you will be challenged to put some extra effort to get on the leaderboards or win a section and earn the right to be called the King or Queen of the mountain.


While Strava had been a business idea in the minds of its founders since 1996, it wasn’t until Technology caught up with the concept that the idea became a reality. Strava was started in 2009 by Mark Gainey & Michael Horvath, two computer geeks who shared a love for physical activity and recognized the need for athletes to remain motivated beyond simply racing. Their concept reached its first million users after 3 years in 2012 and it took years to be profitable. In 2020 the Strava app was signing up almost two million users per month.


So, what can you learn from Strava? Here are 5 lessons!


Be patient when starting out! Strava took over 10 years to really garner the attention that they deserve. Many athletes must try multiple times to get a top 10 finish on Strava. However, many businesses think that they will open their doors and customers will rush in and they will be seen as a fantastic success overnight. That rarely happens. Success is often the result of persistence.


Make it Fun! Strava is a success because it is fun and engaging. People are attracted to positivity. They want to hear that people have noticed that they have put in an effort. If you are not noticing your team, perhaps you need to figure out how you can give people more Kudo’s and recognition for the work they are doing.


Be Diverse! Strava isn’t focused on just one sport. In its early days, Strava was a cycling app that made money by signing up people who would start out for free and eventually decide that there was value to pay Strava for its services of tracking their rides and efforts. Now Strava has the ability to track over 30 different activities because they know that many people don’t just do one type of physical activity, they often are active in multiple sports. Finally,

Strava doesn’t just generate income from selling its tracking software. It also sells the information it gathers on the most travelled routes to planners. That helps facilitate better bike lanes and trails and healthier communities. Often in business we think we need to stick to one business model or one market segment. This lack of diversity can often lead to failure.


Leader boards work! Your team wants to know how they stack up, or at least some of them do. Our brains are intrinsically wired to hit targets, and reach for goals. Tracking results and having historical data gives us reasons to try harder and challenges us to reach for goals that we might not have considered. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about a leader who was frustrated by his factory’s lack of ability to produce. One day he took a piece of chalk and wrote the number 9 on the factory floor. When the night staff came in, they asked what the number was. They were told that that was the number of machines that the day crew had built. That shift felt inclined to beat that number on their shift. And so it went. People feel proud when they accomplish something, however, we rarely measure what matters and make accomplishment fun.


Focus on your Strengths and Be Strategic! You will never get on the leaderboard in every section that you travel through on your activity be it a run, ride, walk, swim or ski, however, if you focus on your strengths and act strategically, you probably can have a top ten finish or even a KOM. In life and business, we need to think similarly. When we focus on what we are good at and act strategically under the right conditions, we can outperform our competitors. For example, I was recently talking to a business manager who had doubled her sales in just over a year. Asking how she did that against much larger competitors, she told me that instead of trying to worry about price, or selection where she was at her weakest against her competition, she focused on what she was good at, talking to people and making them feel important.


Strava might make your workouts more interesting but having a Strava like mentality can take your business to a whole new level.


Dave Fuller, MBA, is a Strava user and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. As an Award Winning Business Coach, Dave is competitive and loves to see results. Email your results to dave@pivotleader.com