Winning in the Fitness Industry with Strava co-Founder Mark Gainey

Alright, good afternoon. We are in the home stretch here I promise. Three speakers left. Let’s see if we can roll through here. Folks, my name is Mark Gainey. As Adam mentioned, I’m the co-founder and executive chairman at Strava and I’m here today to do a couple of things. One, just to tell you the Strava story. We’ll keep it short and simple. I’ll walk you through some of the basics but really want to get into some of the lessons we’ve learned over the last 10 years that we’ve now been around. And in particular this one. Being an inch wide and a mile deep, what it is to go after that niche and do it with a fanaticism knowing full well, it may not be the largest niche in the world, but if you do it right, it leads to some really great things and a valuable business.

A little bit of background on me, so who am I? Story is really short and simple. I grew up in Reno, Nevada, was fortunate enough to head out to Harvard where I studied art history. As fast as I could I made it to the West coast. I had to get out of the snow. I came back out here in 1991. I’m a dinosaur. I started my career in Palo Alto working for a venture capital firm called TA associates. Great for two reasons. One, I learned the language of investors, but more importantly I got to meet tons of startups. And in doing so, I caught the bug to be an entrepreneur. So in 1995 my best friend Michael Horvath and I, we created a company called Khana software. We went after a niche. We found a problem in the market. It was customer email response.

Basically this was the early days of the internet, companies were just learning how to deal with customer email and it was a major problem. So despite a lot of people telling us, “That’s not a company that’s a feature at best.” We had customers, they were paying us, so we just started pursuing it with a vengeance. That was 1995. By 2000 we had 1200 employees. We were generating hundreds of millions in revenue. We were public on NASDAQ. We had a market cap of 11 billion. We really proved to people that you could take that niche and if executed well, you could build a valuable business. The other thing we learned was it’s a ton of fun to build startups. So after a few years out of Khana and Michael and I came back together and that’s when we founded Strava. Founding story, now we founded it officially January 1st of 2009, but to be clear it’s origins go all the way back to the last century.

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