Laura Jorgensen said she would never forget when she heard Runner’s World, a popular fitness magazine, was opening up its own subscription box service for athletes.
Jorgensen had refined the business model and idea for The RunnerBox, and its cycling equivalent The RiderBox, over the years as a finance pro-turned-professional cyclist. She’d earned a strong following within the fitness community by helping athletes get their hands on new nutritious snacks and exercise gadgets through curated subscription boxes.
What would it mean if a big name like Runner’s World Magazine entered the market?
Well, it turns out it takes a lot to make a strong subscription box brand. And The RunnerBox itself had a few unique advantages in the market.
Each bimonthly box has 10-12 seasonal products, giving subscribers a chance to sample a variety of fitness products without getting stuck eating the same thing after every workout. Unlike other subscription services, a user’s first box ships almost immediately to keep up with fast-shipping demands of today’s consumers.
“Consumers want to know the products that they’re buying. We’re in a different age. People aren’t just looking for what is the cheapest because they have a bigger attachment to what the companies are actually doing than ever. So part of our job is to vet the companies that are doing it the right way for the environment and the consumer…and we actually figure out, hey, does this work when I go for a run?” she said.
Brands – ranging from protein bars to soaps to all-day snacks – get in front of new fitness-focused customers throughout the year. The goal is to give athletes a mix of tried-and-true products as well as new options to add into workout routines.
“I think it’s why I love the business…we’re getting people excited to go out for a run,” Jorgensen added. “You don’t have to do it at some high level, but running is such an awesome outlet.”
Hitting The Subscribe Button In Asheville
The RunnerBox and RiderBox started as a “hustle” while Jorgensen was in the middle of her professional cycling career. That career brought her from her home in South Florida to all corners of the country, but she ultimately settled in Asheville given its unique pace of life, strong biking community, and growing business ecosystem.
She exited professional racing with the start of the pandemic and jumped into the subscription startup full-time as demand skyrocketed.
The company is bootstrapped to date with an impressive prepaid revenue flow coming in from bimonthly subscription offerings. It is also part of Asheville’s Elevate program, a startup program designed to help early-stage ventures in the area.
Building a subscription-focused startup in the city means that Jorgensen is in good company. Asheville is home to a number of subscription-based startups, including Sparkle Hustle Grow, The AVL Box, and others looking to help consumers get their hands on new types of curated products.
The business model for subscription boxes and services is attractive due to the steady and predictable revenue stream, but it is also something Jorgensen is seeing catch on across the wider startup space.
“Everything’s about recurring revenue, whether that’s SaaS technology or a subscription box,” she told Hypepotamus. “Investors are looking for a recurring revenue model. One time models are just less attractive, so a ton of people are going this route.”
And while Jorgensen used to be worried about Runner’s World, she is now getting praise from the giant brand. The team was recognized as one of the top brands at the recent US Subscription Box Awards and has even earned top honors by Runner’s World Magazine itself.