Startup Spotlight #101: Charge Running

Charge Running is the most motivating, encouraging, and social way to run!

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I got the chance to speak with Matthew Knippen, co-founder and CEO of Charge Running, about what he’s working on at his startup, and any advice he has for emerging entrepreneurs.

Charge Running provides live running classes through your mobile phone. We help the 56M runners in the USA by providing them with a live fitness coach, and 20 others running at the exact time.

Knippen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Charge Running. Before Charge, he built over 60 applications for iPhone and iPad. He has a degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and this is his 3rd start-up.

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Startup Spotlight: Charge Running

Problem: Most people who try to make running a habit fail. It’s hard work and can be difficult to stay on track without accountability, motivation, and maybe a little competition.

Market: There are 56M people in the United States who went for a run last year, and they’ve been massively underserved with not a single virtual running class to hit the App Store, At a $30/mo price point, this is a $16.8B market in the USA alone.

Solution: While most applications focus on providing the best stat tracking, Charge running focuses on providing the most motivating experience during your run. We provide a live fitness coach and DJ through your headphones, and a live leaderboard and chat room to connect with 20 other people through your mobile phone.

Team: Matthew has built over 60 apps for the iPhone and this is his third startup. Rory is a retired US Navy Seal, and Julie runs the marketing & sales in the company with a background in Kinesiology and business.

Recent Success:

Knippen: We focused really hard on building a product that people didn’t just like, but they truly loved. We’ve had users make new friendships, start dating through the app, and more. We’ve hosted a run for a couple’s wedding, and had members tell us that we’ve been a huge part in them losing hundreds of pounds. We feel like we have one of the world’s best Facebook groups, where even after the worst days you can join in and feel incredibly motivated.

We did this by doing nothing but listen really hard to what our users had to say, and constantly iterating. We spent a long time getting the product to a point where we felt like users would consistently use this to make better habits for themselves. We built over 40 updates to the App Store. As a result, over 80% of our runners come from organic means like user referrals.

Recent Struggle:

Knippen: The biggest falsehood ever created was “If you build it, they will come”. While building a great product is hard, growing it can be even harder. When you’re a company that has little funds, getting advertising to work in your favor is very difficult, and always inconsistent. Our biggest struggle to date is finding a way to profitably acquire a new subscriber.

If you’re someone who’s a runner and understands growth, we would love to speak with you!

Founder Advice:

Knippen: Test and iterate, but only if you have the metrics that can prove your results. While most entrepreneurs have heard the term “Move fast and break things”, I still feel that most entrepreneurs who are struggling fall into two categories: They’re either not moving fast enough, or they’re moving too fast, but not measuring.

For the first: If you’re measuring changes to your product in weeks or months, you need to change it to days. The answer is rarely ever more developers, it’s finding the way you can test your hypothesis with the minimum amount of code.

For the second: Writing code and changing things only works if you have a metric you’re trying to change. You need to first identify a problem, put a number on it, and then build things that you think can raise it. I’ll give an example:

When we first built Charge, our onboarding was awful. If 100 people created an account with us, less than 1% subscribed. We had no idea why, and spent months building things that didn’t change this number at all. Then I got the advice to focus a week on analytics. We built a funnel of where we were losing our users. Since we did that, our numbers improved by an order of magnitude. Each version focused on one tiny part of the app and made dramatic differences. 

For example: Users were signing up for a run, but not coming when the class started:

  • Iteration 1: Add push notifications. 

  • Iteration 2: Add to calendar

  • Iteration 3: Change copy to better explain what will happen when they come back

Three Cool Founders You Should Know About:

Knippen: Here are three founders you should check out next!

  • Manan Shah, Founder of Wyndly: Wyndly gives people with allergies lifelong relief.

  • John Thomas, Founder of ContentFly: ContentFly is an on-demand content creation platform, combining a vetted human talent network with cutting-edge content AI.

  • Joseph (JJ) Metzinger, Founder of Stacksi: Stacksi allows you to automate security questionnaire responses and close deals faster.

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