FOWA’s known for being a launching platform for startups. The joy of being surrounded by 600-odd web people though is that there are bound to be a few other startups in the house apart from the ones that make it to the stage.
One that caught my eye yesterday is RunAlong.se, which as the domain suggests is a Swedish venture, founded by former user interaction designer Heidi Harman.
Currently in beta, it’s an online health community targeted at female runners who don’t necessarily want to run or walk on their own. Users can map a route using Google Maps, and then invite fellow runners to join them. The benefit to users is increased safety on runs, especially in the dark, and more motivation to actually put on those running shoes at the end of a long day.
The site launched in March 2009, and received some funding from the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems, Vinnova. It’s a Ruby on Rails development which takes a “user-driven” innovation route in feature development, i.e. users define and prioritize the features they want most.
RunAlong’s business model is a blend of freemium and advertising/sponsorship agreements with brands well-loved by the running world. It’s a service I can imagine could expand very rapidly across any region that is well-served by Google Maps. It can also be easily adapted for any sort of route-based sport, so has the potential for cyclists, skaters and the like.
Given RunAlong’s advisory board, which includes some of the hottest entrepreneurial, technical and academic minds in Sweden, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this startup hit the ground running. (Sorry.)
Harman is also a co-founder of GeekGirlMeetup.com in Stockholm, an all-female conference about web, code and start-ups, with the objective to create more female role models in the European tech industry.