Fitness is important, but going to an indoor gym every day can get tough: it’s easy to feel lonely and isolated while on your treadmill or elliptical. Yet one company is trying to change that. Zwift is a company creating massive, multiplayer video game technology catering to indoor cyclists. It just attracted $27 million in Series A funding, bringing their total funding to an impressive $45 million.
The 70-person company has quietly been establishing a devoted following by combining gaming, indoor cycling and social elements to revolutionize indoor fitness. So far, 200,000 people have signed up for the surface. Zwift allows users to connect with friends and strangers anywhere in the world for “virtual” group rides and races, integrated with the popular cycling and running app Strava. This allows users to see a map of their virtual path, as well as their incline stats and other performance information, such as heart rate and cadence. Like Strava, Zwift encourages users with awards and badges.
Another large part of the company’s appeal is affordability. Users don’t need to buy wildly expensive bikes to get started, and can instead use stationary bikes they already own, along with their own trainers. It just costs $10 a month, although users do need “smart” trainers that can wirelessly interact with third-party software, which can cost up to $1500 in some instances. One of the few inconveniences is the fact that users need to rely on their laptops while using the app. However, according to Zwift co-founder and CEO Eric Min, that won’t be necessary for much longer. The company recently released an iOS app in beta, which will soon be released to the wider public.
One of the big issues with Zwift is to simply get people who haven’t tried the service yet to understand why they need to. However, the company has grown solely through word of mouth so far, a trend that will only continue and expand with time. And I can tell you from my personal preferences: any company that incorporates tech and cycling is pretty amazing in my book!
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