Eastnine, a new fitness startup and app founded by London entrepreneur and investor Jason Goodman, is disappointing today, including the disclosure that it has provided £ 2 million in seed capital.
Leading in London is London-based LocalGlobe and Cherry Ventures, headquartered in Berlin, as well as a number of prominent angel investors, including Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype and London-based venture capital firm Atomico.
Also present is former Spotify CMO and now Atomico partner Sophia Bendz, Supercell founder Ilkka Paananen, Moo co-founder Richard Moross, Wonga founder Errol Damelin and Climate Corp co-founder and Atomico partner Siraj Khaliq.
The links to current employees of Atomico, who have all invested in a company's personal capacity should not be completely surprising. Prior to co-founding Eastnine, Goodman spent a year as an Atomic Executive-in-Residence (XiR), where he oversaw founders in the venture capital firm's portfolio. Prior to Atomico, he was the founder and CEO of product design agency Albion, which was acquired by KBS.
The Eastnine app, which will be launched as a beta for iOS, will initially focus on running, with professional coaching sessions provided via audio combined with more innovative social features. The latter includes the ability to "race" against other Eastnine runners who have previously completed the same coaching session. The feature uses asynchronous session data but is displayed in real-time on a map, which resembles a race against an action replay.
The social element, Goodman said yesterday in a call, is important to motivate people to engage with them and improve their fitness. This is because running often feels unbelievably isolated, and it is difficult to see an improvement as it can only be slowly manifested.
"A daily run is hard to gain habit and can be lonely by nature," says Goodman. "When you do it with others, it's fun, purposeful and addictive. We've tried all sorts of apps, but they're linear and lonely and miss the extra boost you get when you do that with others. Our training experience combines the fun and sport of being surrounded by other Eastnine runners on a real-time leaderboard with [a] a truly knowledgeable coaching approach that inspires people to walk and run better.
("Hate running, but now," was how a London Millennial founder described the Eastnine app after attending the start-up's closed beta.)
Generally speaking, wants Goodman the "Con" in fitness and fitness are disrupting the way people approach fitness every day. "We want to do that by helping to create the right habits, accessible and social and fun," he tells me while complaining about the number of charlatans present in the gym. He also believes that the industry is crying for a more British and quieter European approach, rather than the "screaming" coaching style that is often imported from North America.
Eastnine's coaching team is made up of qualified professionals from the world of professional sports. These include Team GB athletes JJ Jegede and Lewis Richardson; former rugby player Leo Savage; Osteopath for top athlete Alice Monger-Godfrey; and nutritionist for cyclists and Ironman athletes, Will Girling.
"The fitness industry is a hoax on so many levels," says Goodman. "Too many products and services are sold in a way that suggests an immediate solution – but human nature means that if we do not see results or create the right habits, we're not making progress and making any noticeable progress. The real challenge is to learn the right habits that will help us make real progress. The drawbacks are well documented: gyms benefit from users who do not advertise or cancel their membership, and social media is full of pseudo-celebrities selling the latest appetite suppressants they've never used, but they support them. The category is full of people who say something and try to sell you something else.
During the beta phase, the Eastnine app remains completely free. However, the startup plans to switch to a freemium model, with an optional monthly subscription similar to Calm or Headspace being canceled at any time. "We want as many people as possible to use it so that we can develop the service with feedback from our members," adds Goodman. "We will use a freemium approach to keep some of the content free."
Meanwhile, it's a good idea not to mention the other co-founders of Eastnine. You are David McCreary, previously Vice President of Engineering of Boiler Room and Senior Software Engineer at NextVR. Cat Forrest, former international GB high jumper, Rapha ambassador and marketer of the Virgin Group; and Matt Harrison, previously Strategy Director at Seymourpowell Innovation Agency.