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STRAVA: Apps, KOM’s and the Future of Your Ride Data

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50,000 new users sign up each week. 2,000,000 activities are uploaded each week. 65% of all its users are international. These are just a few of the things we learned about Strava.

Strava’s recent LA Get Out event to announce version 4.0 of its popular ride sharing and tracking app gave us some quality time with two Strava insiders, Michael Oldenburg and Alex Bell, members of its marketing and communication team. While the event was officially about the app, it was the things we learned and didn’t learn, about the company in general that were the most fascinating.

First the app. For all the Strava lovers out there, it is a big step forward. For a company based on sharing, the app is now much better at doing it with all the social integration built right into the activity feed. Kudos, Comments and even Instagram are displayed right in the feed and adding your voice to the discussion is only a click away. They have also enabled gear selection in the app, so you can add which bike you rode more seamlessly. For all the KOM hunters segment updates can be live streamed with audio updates on your progress at the start, midpoint and end. Simply ‘star’ the segments you want live streamed from the web interface and they will be announced on your ride. These live updates are the only update feature reserved exclusively for premium members. All in all it’s just easier to use, more engaging and yes, more social.

So that’s the app, now for the company itself. Regarding those premium members, Strava would not disclose how many it has, nor would they disclose the total number of members. Even the percentage of premium to free users was off-limits. Strava did verify that premium members, as opposed to sponsored challenges or store revenue, are its main source of revenue, although it is not yet profitable.

The issues of a single climb being chopped up into 100 almost duplicate segments, incorrectly flagged segments or obviously incorrect non-human efforts a top the KOM leader board, came up frequently. While Strava made it clear it is always looking for ways to improve the service, they do try and stay out of these issues, deferring to the Strava community to police themselves. When it comes to earning KOM’s and trophies, as Strava has matured, many of these have gotten out of reach for 99.9percent of Strava users and this is another area they have put some thought to. The concept of resetting KOM’s every year was even floated at Strava at one point. Here again, they seem to defer to the user and ask them to make liberal use of the filters built into the leader boards.

What Strava does, at its most basic level, is collect information about you and your ride and this is where the most interesting subject came up – what are its ultimate plans for all that information? For now, Strava uses it to help you track and plan your rides, understand your fitness and share it all with your friends. That may change in the very near future. Strava sees a great benefit in using their data for bicycle advocacy. If you want to campaign for a bike path in your home town, Strava’s data can show you how many people are riding and where. But beyond that, in an attempt to answer that profitability question, Strava also sees a day when it will use your data to offer you products and services. Ridden 300 miles on your road bike this week? Get ready for Strava to offer you some tires or nutrition products. Tried for a local KOM three times this month and just can’t quite get there? Maybe Strava will recommend a coach in the area or some lighter wheels. Like every other social network out there, its true value is information and to unlock profits, that information needs to be put to work.

Strava v4.0 is available now.