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Breakaway fitness app continues to grow, expand integration with other platforms

Published September 9, 2021
Former Strava pioneers and former pro Christian Vande Velde develop The Breakaway.

TRUCKEE, Calif. (BRAIN) — While Strava has maintained a stranglehold on the fitness app market, two former employees along with a former professional cyclist took a slightly different approach to bring out the best in cyclists, and the venture is quickly gaining users.

The Breakaway app was founded last year by Strava alumni Jordan Kobert and Kyle Yugawa, and former pro cyclist Christian Vande Velde. More than an app for cataloging rides and attaining kudos, The Breakaway was designed for serious data-driven cyclists and indoor cyclists to analyze power data, outline strengths and weaknesses, and suggest ways to improve.

In the past couple of months, The Breakaway has integrated with Garmin and indoor cycling platform Zwift users. Strava and Peloton users also can connect. The Breakaway users have doubled every month since May and the app is on track to grow at that pace, according to company officials.

"Technology is best when it enhances what people are already doing," said Kobert, who was head of Strava business development/commerce, while Yugawa was Strava's first mobile developer. "That's what we're trying to do at The Breakaway. Not change behavior, but help with what you're already doing, meet you on the platform of your choice, and help you drive better habits and execution."

The app is available for iOS devices in the Apple App Store and the monthly subscription is $7.99. Kobert was among the first handful of Strava users pre-mobile app and joined the company in 2011.

"It's really exciting to see both groups engage," Kobert said of competitive outdoor cyclists and indoor cyclists. "Our goal is that this is for anyone who wants to improve, anyone who gets on their bike, indoors or out, and thinks, 'How am I doing?'"

Becoming a member allows riders to:

  • Set benchmarks against the standards of other cyclists.
  • Measure up against 12 power skills and eight game levels.
  • Continually analyze power goals, highlighting personal records.
  • Receive tips and workout guidance from Vande Velde and coach Ashton Lambie through audio and video delivered in-app.

"Strava has cemented its position as the social platform for athletes," said Kobert, who was with Strava for four years. "It's amazing, and I use it multiple times a day. We are targeting people who want to go deeper into improvement, coaching, and training. There's room for a lot of solutions as the market is just so big and getting bigger. Also, we see ourselves as much more than a cycling app. We are certainly starting with cycling but our goal is to quickly add other sports and activities."

Vande Velde, who said his investment in The Breakaway is only his time helping enhance it, has known Kobert for more than 20 years.

"I'm proud to be part of the founding team, and we've been working on this together for a while, and it's been a blast," Vande Velde said. "I never thought it could be this fun, or that we'd have such a huge opportunity in front of us. We've come a long way since the concept of this, but we are just getting started, and have so much planned to help people grow. I've been around cycling all my life, and now as a retired pro, I ride with people of all abilities and see the impact that a little bit of coaching or guidance can have. That's what drew me in, and what keeps us all going every day."

The app tracks Power Skills: sprinting (under 2 minutes), attacking (2-10 minutes), and climbing (15 minutes-1 hour). It then breaks down a user's strengths and weaknesses and recommends intervals.

Kobert said attracting members in the crowded fitness app market can be achieved if you offer something that will change people's lives. He said that's what the team has accomplished.

"We can have all the go-to-market plans and acquisition strategies we want, but if you don't build something people love, and want to tell their friends about, then you haven't really solved a problem," Kobert said. "Our focus is on helping people find real improvement. If we do that, we are confident in our ability to grow and impact a huge audience."

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