Insights + interviews

In Conversation With Marc Hardy, Co-Founder Of RunSocial

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During the recent Millennial 20/20 Summit, we had a chat with the Co-Founder of RunSocial, Marc Hardy about the future of technology and fitness.

The inaugural Asian edition of the Millennial 20/20 Summit had recently concluded over a two-day period from 7 to 8 September and saw the gathering of over a thousand brands, retailers, corporates and start-ups. With a line-up of panel discussions and interviews discussing the future of next-gen commerce, the millennial business event focused on four industrial sectors – food and beverage, fashion and beauty, sport and fitness, and travel and hospitality.

During the conference, we got to speak with Marc Hardy (MH), the Co-Founder of RunSocial, a platform that incorporates a fun and social aspect to fitness through the use of ‘mixed reality’, 3D environments and live interaction. The RunSocial app allows users to download and select routes, set up run events with friends, as well as choose how they want to track their speed. With a range of routes to select from including California’s Death Valley, the Swiss Alps, Bali Villages, or even a Prague Digital Marathon, the aim is to better engage runners and make the experience a more fun and social one.

We got Marc to talk about some trends in the fitness and technology industry, as well as how adding a social element to fitness can better motivate users to stay active and fit.

AA: Hi Marc, what are some fitness trends that might take off in the next two to three years?

MH: One of the biggest trends now is social fitness. So obviously group fitness classes have also become very popular. Sport brands like Nike and Adidas have also identified social group running as the fastest growth segment. However, technology and social is currently confined to just sharing of data and afterwards, comparing that data. Whereas, at RunSocial we’re interested in how you can make the actual experience of running on your own more social.

AA: How would RunSocial impact active agers and the way they look at fitness?

MH: One very interesting area in the senior segment is indoor fitness. While it can be very convenient and much easier for them because it’s low-impact, and they can do it at their own time or at home, it can be deeply boring or lonely. So the kind of platform we’ve been working on could enable them to share a walk with their children for instance, and this could also work for those experiencing an empty nest. Social is definitely a huge area to explore, and I think the greatest area of technology in the moment is data and being able to share it with users after. However, we are only just scratching the surface.

AA: Keeping motivated to track and deal with all the data can be hard to achieve. What are some of the challenges companies face when it comes to engaging their users better?

MH: Data in itself is definitely a niche segment. In running, not everyone knows what their optimal heart rate should be – not everybody cares that much. It would only be meaningful to the average person who wants to stay active. I think a more interesting area is looking at data while you’re running. For instance, Nike+ has this feature where you can hear the crowds cheering for you while you’re running. It is tiny little details like this that can make it more motivating while exercising and I think that’s an area with a lot of growth potential.

So we’re called RunSocial because we’re being social while we’re running – and if we’re doing riding, we ride social as well. I think this applies not just for the millennials but for everybody. One of the biggest challenges in technology right now is that there’s still a lot of friction points in terms of the infrastructure. Especially for seniors – you have to download it and you have to figure out how to learn something new. Treadmills are therefore king of indoor fitness – partly because they’re just so simple to use. You don’t have to think, you just press ‘Go’ and you walk – and that’s why it’s so popular. I think technology needs to get to an unbelievably simple level but it’s just not there yet.

AA: How would the incorporation of MIXED technology such as Virtual Reality (VR), live interactions and 3D environments revolutionise the way we look at fitness?

MH: Again I’m going to keep coming back to the idea of indoor fitness – at least for VR as it has to be indoors and is not something you can experience outdoors. There’s always going to be a lag in terms of technology adoption, as indoor fitness is an extremely conservative industry. I think it’s going to take a lot longer for indoor fitness to embrace technology properly and it’s one of the key challenges we face because we’re trying to push it into – dare I say, the future, but into the present even.

Nevertheless, I believe it will get there eventually as there is a huge potential for indoor fitness and a big market for those who are confined indoors. Especially with urbanisation and things like the weather or the haze, it’s hard to go outdoors sometimes. There’s just massive potential for technology to bend in that direction but of course you can’t do it without the industry. You need the industry to work with you, so that means it’ll always take more time.

For more information about RunSocial, visit For more details about the Millennial 20/20 Summit, visit here.



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