Studio Velo brought the KOM Challenge to you? What makes this event different from other competitions you created previously and do you consider it a success thus far?KOM: Tell us your first impressions when Scott Penzarella of
MH: The fact that Scott wanted to do a competition that spanned an entire year was novel. I think once people are engaged in friendly competition they are motivated to reach for more and expect more of themselves. It’s great to keep that going for the entire year.
KOM: As a vehicle to raise awareness, the KOM Challenge seems to be sparking a lot of interest in Strava - have you seen that in site traffic and membership growth?
MH: We are but we hope to see more of an uptick in the coming months from the KOM Challenge. There is a growing enthusiasm for cycling in general and I feel like Strava is riding that wave right now. The KOM Challenge is one more way in which people can understand how Strava differs from other GPS-based social fitness websites. So even if they didn’t come to Strava specifically for the KOM Challenge, we feel having challenges on the site is a very important way to keep new users engaged with Strava.
KOM: What’s it like to work at Strava? How often are you in the office? On your bike (doing research, right)?
MH: Building and running a great software company is a full-time job. I work about 65 hrs per week and am in the office most of that time. I’m based in Boston where we have an office. Our support team is in Hanover, NH and I’m there 2-3 days per month. Our product team is in San Francisco so I am out there about one week each month. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave much time other things. But our motto is “there’s always time for a ride.” I manage to fit in my training around the edges
KOM: Is social media working for you as an outreach tool? What percentage of your users are sharing their rides on Facebook or tweeting them? And are those posts and tweets pulling other traffic into the site?
MH: Social media is key. We do little paid marketing. Most of our new users come from referrals from existing members. Sharing rides via Facebook, Twitter and email drives over 2/3 of our growth.
It seems like we have a lot of riders from Australia participating – has the growth there been recent and rapid, or a slow build? Are any other countries starting to come on board?
We do a lot of outreach to other countries. Right now our site is English-language-only so we are focusing on Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK and South Africa. We have about 20% of our users outside the USA and we would like to see that grow to over 30% this year. Our market research tells us that, for every avid cyclist in the USA, there are 4 avid cyclists outside the USA. International is key for Strava’s long-term success.
KOM: What are your favorite rides, both in the Bay Area and in New Hampshire?
Sanibel, FL : it’s a great TT route - very flat.
Hills of Vermont: - it’s where I ride when I’m in the Hanover office.
KOM: Do you see a Stava / Stuido Velo KOM Challenge series or event somewhere in the high mountain of California? Perhaps a weekend event where riders from all over the world converge for a weekend to put up the best times?
MH: Sounds great! With all these virtual competitions you know we are going to have to get everyone together for a group ride soon enough.