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Startup merges networking with exercise
A startup is developing a mobile app and group exercise programs across the region — to combine networking with working out.
Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said last week that it will invest $5,000 in Networkingout.
Networkingout describes itself as “a lifestyle choice” that’s comprised of a mobile application, which is scheduled to launch by August, Run This Town group exercise chapters and a nonprofit arm to help professionals live healthier and more-balanced lives.
Neworkingout members work in various industries: law, medicine, education, business, sports, entertainment and life sciences. The startup targets people between the ages of 18 and 50 who are interested in starting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The apps allows users to stay connected with people with similar fitness and professional goals.
The app incorporates features such as a news feed, messages, events, activities, groups and networking.
Networkingout is marketing the app as “LinkedIn for health and wellness.”
Networkingout began as a Runt This Town event in Detroit, which was an effort to bring young professionals together for a run.
“Two years ago we decided to kind of address a need that we saw amongst our peers,” said Terrence J.L. Thompson, co-founder, Networkingout. “A lot our friends, for whatever reason, were not pursuing a healthy lifestyle. We realized, based on the types of people we had coming out, that people were kind of naturally networking.”
The concept developed into the company Networkingout, which participated in a business accelerator. During that period, the founders refined the business model and defined their target market.
The Run This Town chapters are now set up in Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Chicago, and the startup expects to open a chapter in Grand Rapids.
“We have these pockets of actual networking going on the ground,” said Armond Harris, co-founder, Networkingout. “It allows us to introduce our future users to our platform and introduce them to the Networkingout model.”
Thompson said the Start Garden investment is a big deal, since it puts the company on people’s radar and gives them the opportunity to ensure their product is qualitatively tested before launching in the market.
“It’s a really big deal any time you can get money,” Thompson said. “Whether it is the ultimate amount you need or it is something that keeps the lights and doors open and keeps the ideas flowing.”
The funds will go toward hiring a consulting firm to perform product testing and paying Networkingout’s interns a small stipend, Thompson said.