How Strava built a billion dollar fitness app

We examine how Strava became the app of choice for both professional athletes and amateur fitness enthusiasts, plus its ambition to create the biggest sporting community in the world

Our relationship with sport has gone through a huge period of adjustment amid the pandemic. Recent research by Sport England found that an extra 1.2 million adults were not doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity a week during its height, while activities such as playing team sports and going to the gym were restricted altogether in many countries.

For others, their daily hour of allotted outdoor exercise time was one of the only things that got them through the monotony of lockdown, with people taking up running, following fitness influencers on social media and signing up for Peloton in their droves. Fitness app Strava was one of the businesses that boomed amid the new normal, gaining roughly two million new members a month during 2020.

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Founded in 2009, Strava was envisioned by its creators as a social platform for athletes, allowing them to use GPS data to track and share their activities – be it running, hiking or cycling. “Strava was founded on the principle that people keep people active,” says Strava’s director of brand design, Byron Parr. “Having a platform to connect with others can help you achieve your personal best. An athletic lifestyle takes commitment, spirit and, most importantly, motivation. Nothing is more motivating for athletes than sharing and measuring activities together – especially when they can’t meet face to face.”