Let’s Do This Founders Sam Browne and Alex Rose
Let’s Do This
Last weekend more than 100,000 people took part in organised Park Runs across the United Kingdom. That’s just the broad base of an iceberg. According to data published by running shoe company, Run Repeat, around 97,000 Britons took part in marathons in 2018. Meanwhile, for those who consider 26 miles to be a trivial distance, there is always the option of doing something really testing – perhaps in the shape of a multi-sport endurance event. Take a step back to look at the rest of the world and the picture is much the same. More and more people are opting to test themselves in events, such as marathons and triathlons.
But here’s the thing. For most participants, this is a universe of personal achievements rather than elite athleticism. Somewhere at the top of the tree, the big names of running and endurance are posting record times and walking away with prize money and sponsorship cash, but outside that charmed circle the name of the game is participation, social interaction, securing a finisher’s medal and (hopefully) ringing up a personal best.
So from the outside looking in, this seems like a world that is dominated by enthusiastic and driven amateurs looking for opportunities to participate across a fragmented community of organisers. There’s lots of activity but very little of it is joined up. But according to Same Browne, co-founder of endurance sports platform, Let’s Do This, the sheer number of people taking part in marathons and multi-sport events around the world means there is a huge business opportunity. And one that has gone largely untapped. It is, he says a “non-obvious market.”
In the case of Let’s Do This, the business opportunity revolves around helping runners and endurance event enthusiasts find suitable events. This is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. For an individual who has taken part in a few Five-Kilometre fun runs, a marathon might be an appealing next step. But then again, maybe a half marathon would be a more appropriate option. Then you have the question of finding an event close to a desired location that isn’t oversubscribed. So part of the role of the Let’s Do This Platform is to use data to advise participants on the most suitable events at any given time and then put them in touch with the organisers.
Niche But Appealing
On the face of it that sounds pretty niche but the company has just raised a Series A of $15 million – led by EQT ventures – and has also attracted investment from Serena Williams and Usain Bolt.
A Cambridge Graduate, Browne cut his entrepreneurial teeth on an endurance/experience venture which involved taking customers to Norway. “It was a horrible business model,” he confesses. “It was too extreme. I wanted to address a bigger market.”
A brainstorming session followed with Browne and co-founder Alex Rose joined by friends to discuss ideas. One friend – Sandy Reid – was already working on a venture that made endurance events easier to find. With his blessing, this was the concept the founders ran with.
So what was the commercial appeal? As Browne sees it, this “non-obvious” segment of the sports, leisure and experience market, holds out the possibility of a lot of repeat business from loyal customers. It isn’t simply that hundreds of thousands of people participate (or aspire to) in endurance events across the globe. Once bitten by the bug, they tend to stick with it.
“Retention is very high,” he says. “If you think about something like gym equipment, around 60 percent of people who buy it won’t use it. But people enjoy running and endurance events because of the social interaction. So they keep on doing it.”
Meanwhile organisers are hungry for participants. Browne says that beyond the major events, such as the London Marathon, most organisers face an under-subscription situation. Therefore, they are willing to pay a commission fee to bring new competitors on board. “90 per cent of them don’t sell out,” he says. “And they have very high fixed costs and the cost of bringing in additional participants is very low.”
That’s the theory. But how do you turn a fairly simple – business model – one that essentially involves matching supply and demand – into something that will tickle the taste buds of investors.
Browne stresses the importance of getting the execution right – a process that starts with the building of a team. The faint hearted should probably skip to the next paragraph. Let’s Do This has some fairly strict hiring criteria – not least that potential staff members should have achieved something notable by the age of 25. For instance, one member of the team has Olympic medals to his name. More generally, there is an expectation that all those coming on board should understand at first hand the endurance sport journey. They are, in short, expected to be achievers with a sporting bent. The aim is to create the culture of an elite sports team.
Meanwhile, the company has honed its business and market knowledge and skills through participation in a YCombinator cohort,taking part in a demo day in 2018 -an experience that Browne sees as invaluable.
So what does this mean in practice? Well as things stand, the company claims to list every major endurance event on the planet on its platform and its aim is to become the leading gateway for participants. Marketing is key. For instance,Google is being used to ensure that Let’s Do This comes up first when someone keys in “get fit” or runs near me. Once a user has been registered,, the platform provides ongoing support in the form of training advice and guidance on suitable events.
But is it attracting users? Browne won’t quote revenues – but he says they are currently hitting eight-digit mark already.
There are challenges ahead. The company will have to increase its user base to hit its 5x growth target and, as many entrepreneurs have found, maintaining a core company culture may not be easy or straightforward once staffing numbers increase. But as Browne sees it, there is real opportunity in addressing an under-served market, armed with knowledge and commitment.