9M Users Strong, MapMyFitness Brings Check-Ins, Advanced Google Maps Integration To Fitness Tracking

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MapMyFitness is a veteran of the online health and fitness space, with the first iteration of its website appearing back in the summer of 2005. Since then, the startup has developed a suite of fitness-oriented websites (like MapMyRUN.com, MapMyRIDE.com, MapMyWALK.com, et al) to let users track and store their running, cycling, walking and hiking endeavors, along with accessing a database of international routes, fitness calculators, nutrition tracking, events listings and more. MapMyFitness has long had a stable community of committed users, but over the last year, things have been moving steadily north.

CEO Richard Jalichandra (who joined the startup from Technorati last year) tells us that MapMyFitness recently passed 9 million registered users, and that, collectively, its mobile apps have amassed over 30 million downloads, making it one of the biggest players in the fitness tracking space.

The good news for MapMyFitness, however, has been the recent telescoping growth in registrations (not downloads), with the latest 1 million registrations occurring over the last 40 days. That’s an increase from the 54 days it took for the site to go from 6 million to 7 million users, and the 47 days it took to pass 8 million users. All in all, that’s 3 million new users in the last 5 months, and the CEO says the company is today seeing 25K new registrations a day, significant when viewed against its nearly 7-year history.

It’s based on this recent uptick in activity that MapMyFitness is today launching one of the biggest feature updates the platform has seen since rebranding in 2007. The startup has completely rebuilt its portfolio of websites, and is now beta testing three big new features: Updated routes, personal challenges, and courses, with the main attraction, Jalichandra says, being the latter.

The CEO claims that the introduction of its new feature makes MapMyFitness the only online fitness service to have integrated Google Maps API v3.9 (the latest version of its API) and leverage its full functionality.

What does that mean? While MapMyFitness users could already plan, track, and share their routes, Jalichandra says that Courses adds a notable difference in performance and user experience, enabling users to go beyond the actual route. By incorporating realtime info on traffic, weather, safe routes, directions, realtime elevation, and custom markers, now users can go beyond the route, planning the best Segway route home from work, for example..

Really, the feature is intended to bring MapMyFitness into the gamification/Foursquare era, as it provides both hardcore and casual athletes with both leaderboards and check-ins. Courses offers an automatic “check-in activity” for every exercise logged to track the speed, distance, consistency, and intensity of workouts, ranking users by gender, age, and weigh on the platform’s new leaderboard.

There’s also a group segmenting feature that allows users to compare themselves, leaderboard-style, against specific groups, be they local clubs, friends, or fierce cycling rivals, backed by a points system that incorporates personal best times and monthly consistency, awarding badges to the users with the most overall points on climbing courses, those with the most completions of a course, the fastest time, etc., etc.

Courses will span MapMyFitness’ five primary categories, including cycling, running, walking, hiking and winter sports, as well as hundreds of subcategory specialties (like unicycling) and enables users to create new Courses directly from their iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids, Windows Mobile phones and iPads.

It also helps that Courses leverages the startup’s database of more than 50 million routes, 1 million climbs, and 30K event courses through realtime processing, allowing users to measure fitness and track progress in realtime or over time.

With RunKeeper on a laudable mission to build “the health graph,” alongside an API that’s already attracted 50+ integrations, big funding, and a platform that’s quickly becoming one of the top destinations for tracking and sharing fitness routines, incumbents are feeling a little bit of pressure.

But, as its name implies, MapMyFitness does maps better than most, especially now that it is powering its new features with Google’s latest mapping technology. According to the startup’s CEO, other than Strava, MapMyFitness is the only platform that offers realtime GPS activity leaderboards, and he thinks that components of the service, like route mapping, the ability to send a route to your phone to route with directions, along with the ability to choose from over 40 sports give its service a leg up on the competition.

MapMyFitness also capitalizes on three revenue streams: Media, digital commerce and subscriptions, and enterprise software, with this diversity resulting in the startup’s revenue doubling each of the last four years, the CEO says, and is projected to triple in 2012. This has allowed the startup to avoid raising outside investment beyond its Series A in 2010 and to grow, under its own volition, to a team of 78, giving it an advantage over its competition in terms of good old human capital.

With its deep database of courses, routes and trails, some added stickiness thanks to leaderboards and check-ins, and some big data collection and storage capabilities on the back-end using postGIS, it wouldn’t be surprising to see MapMyFitness continue in its accelerating growth trajectory. And maybe even find a little funding waiting in the wings.

Also, don’t be surprised if MapMyFitness ends up being featured by Google at some point. My guess would be here.

Courses will be available initially through a private beta test for first 100,000 users
who sign up here. iPhone and Android MMF users will only see superficial changes reflected in its new site — now available to one and all — at new.mapmyfitness.com. Widespread access to Courses et al will be offered later this summer.

What do you think?