Luke Beard recognized fundamental flaws with activity tracking apps when he took up running during the pandemic. As a designer and self-proclaimed “chronic oversharer” on Twitter, he wanted to post his workouts and progress online. While that is common in the running, biking, and fitness world, Beard had two big problems and questions to ask about it.
“Why is it so map-based? And why is it so impersonal?” he told Hypepotamus.
Most shareable fitness tracking apps, like Fitbit, Strava, and Nike Run Club, create inherent safety problems because they give away specific location information. And, as Beard put it, the traditional apps in the space don’t lend themselves to shareable content.
So he started creating his own workout tracking and sharing templates and putting them out to his more than 15,000 Twitter followers. That turned into an app idea in the latter months of 2020.
The app, aptly named Any Distance, turns workout data into shareable story templates. Those templates can be changed to include curated backgrounds and display the stats users most want to showcase.
Currently, the app connects with Apple Health to collect necessary workout data.
Launching Any Distance is also about making working out and living an active lifestyle more fun and accessible, added Beard.
The focus on stats can be intimidating to newcomers, said Dan Kuntz, co-founder and CTO. “You see people riding at a crazy speed or having crazy PRs and you don’t really want to compete with that,” he told Hypepotamus.
The team has received two interesting pieces of feedback from users: People were running or working out more because they wanted to spend more time within the app ecosystem and because they felt safer sharing their results because the tracker doesn’t reveal location data.
Those using Any Distance not only share their workouts in a creative way, they can also earn collectibles to track various achievements and specific milestones.
The B2C play of the app expands into the ecommerce world as well. That looks like t-shirts, coffee beans, sneakers, unique swag, and other items created by brand and artist collaborations that users can earn,
Building B2C in ATL
The idea started as a side project for Beard during COVID, who at the time was CEO at the photography app startup Exposure. But he got positive feedback from the running content he was posting on his personal twitter, which led him to pursue the idea full-time in 2022.
Now the team is growing and has offices in the newly-reopened Switchyards Downtown, the original home base for the consumer-based startup community in town.
Building such a fitness app in Atlanta opens up a lot of opportunities, Beard added.
“From the Freedom Path to the BeltLine, everybody is moving in some capacity and Atlanta is pushing to enable that,” he said.
The team recently held its first meetup on the Eastside BeltLine trail to physically bring the local Any Distance user community together to run, walk, or bike.
The city as a whole is a captive audience for such a startup app. With the slogan “Running City USA,” Atlanta boasts the second-largest running club in the country and is host to the largest 10K race in the world.
It also has a growing cycling community, given the growing number of bike paths and increased focus on safer streets.
While Atlanta is often cast as a B2B-focused city, Any Distance joins an impressive group of consumer brands and B2C startups building in the city.
Specifically in the B2C fitness space, glucose monitoring system Supersapiens raised $13.5 million last year and is run by co-founder of the pro cycling team Team Novo Nordisk Phil Sutherland, and long-time Atlanta staple Wahoo Fitness, a fitness technology company, was acquired by New York-based Rhone Group in 2021 and continues to be a major player in the fitness training space. The city is also home to Activvely, a Tinder-like platform for meeting your next workout buddy.
Photo credit: Gabi Valladares