Mark Gainey: Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Strava

Strava is an American internet service that tracks users’ exercises and shares them with some social media features. Strava records an user’s activities, including distance, average speed, elevation, time, and heart rate, which can then be shared with others.  The results are compiled and a leaderboard is made, so that users are then competing against each other for the fastest time on designated pieces of their exercise, also known as segments.  It is free to use, though there is a premium, pay-for version with upgrades.  Strava’s value proposition is that it offers s “freemium” digital platform that lets users to track, upload, and share activities.

Mark was raised in Reno, Nevada where he was a cross country runner during high school.  He applied to Harvard as a runner, but quickly switched to rowing once he was there.  He graduated with a degree in General Studies then took a job with TA Associates, calling entrepreneurs looking for investment opportunities. This period taught him three things most good companies thrived for: attention to detail, focus on the customer, and build great teams.  He then started Kana with co-founder Michael Horvath.  He left that company in 2000.

In Strava, Mark and Michael decided to focus on a certain type of consumer at first, cyclists and fully support them with their venture.  They went with the mindset of: 1. Pursue things you are genuinely interested in, and 2. Solve real problems.  Mark was an avid cyclist and saw an opportunity to support this group and allow them to share information specific to their sport with others.  In time, Strava branched out into other sports as well. Strava has nine board members, all with a background in either entrepreneurship or athletics-based corporations.

Though not a truly educational technology, I saw PE teachers using Strava to stay connected with their classes.  They were able to keep students engaged by having them compete for personal records and have results posted so that classmates could kudo and comments on other students’ feats.  Personally, I agree with the beliefs that Mark went into building this corporation with his co-founder with: attention to detail, focus on the customer, build great teams, pursue something you are interested in, and solve real problems.


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One response to “Mark Gainey: Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Strava”

  1. joseph villella

    Strava is actually an app that I have used and definitely could see the benefit for using it during PE classes. Gamifying physical activities is a great way to increase student engagement throughout all ages as it encourages competitiveness. I think Mark did an excellent job with Strava and I enjoy using it!

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