One-Liner Pitch: An app that connects you with runners around the world so you'll never have to jog alone again.
Why It's Taking Off: Yog is working to make running -- and exercise in general -- more social.
If you're planning to go jogging more as part of your New Year's resolution, you might want to give Yog a try.
Yog, a free iPhone app, helps runners around the world connect with each other and organize jogs with those at their skill level. With the app, users can quickly schedule a run and then invite friends through Facebook or their phone's contact list to go on a virtual run. If the scheduled run is listed publicly, random users on the site can opt to join in as well.
Just before the run is scheduled to start, Yog's app will issue a countdown to all those who have signed up for the race. The app then tracks how much each person has run and issues audio notifications when the user completes a mile or passes another runner to move up in place. In this way, Yog guarantees that runners will always have someone to go jogging with, no matter where in the world they live.
Peter Pelberg, the co-founder of Yog, says the idea for the app came about in part because he found himself less engaged in sports after he moved to New York last year. "I had been playing team sports all my life and when I moved to New York, I kind of stopped," he told Mashable. "I realized it was the lack of community."
This led Pelberg and his co-founder to start thinking about the role that "social mechanics" play in motivating people to engage in healthy behavior. There are plenty of other exercise apps and gadgets like Fitbit that let users track their activity, but Yog's goal is to create a series of tools that encourage people to get started. Part of the way Yog's app does this is by helping runners search through scheduled races by distance and time so they can find something at their level.
Since launching in mid-November, runners in 58 countries have used Yog's app to schedule 1,400 jogs, running some 3,000 miles collectively in the process.
The current version of the app is just the tip of the iceberg for the company. Pelberg says the long-term goal is to create similar social functions for other sports activities, most likely as a suite of fitness apps.
"Our vision is to create a global community of people exercising, whether it's biking, rowing or swimming. You can go find someone to exercise with at any skill or experience level in real time," Pelberg said.
In the immediate future, the company is focused on tweaking Yog's iPhone app -- including building a tailored feed for each user of races in their skill level -- as well as launching the app on other platforms. The team consists of just the two co-founders and is still bootstrapped right now, though they're looking to raise a round of funding in early 2013.
As for revenue, Pelberg has little interest in traditional advertising -- despite having previously worked at an ad agency. Instead, he has a clever plan to eventually turn the app into a kind of micro payments service that processes fees for entering races. Essentially, runners would have the option to pay a smaller fee to run in a big race virtually (kind of like being in the overflow room for an event) or to organize races of their own and raise money for charity.
December 18, 2012