How Sprintcrowd Created the World’s First Live Running App

Sprintcrowd is the world’s first live running platform, allowing up to 1,000,000 participants to run together virtually regardless of location. Combining live tracking, performance feedback, leaderboards and more, it creates a gamified experience that adds a new dimension to running.

cust-logo-sprintcrowd-col-neg.svg
Size:

Startup

Industry:

Health & Fitness apps

Use case:

Live tracking

THE PROBLEM
Delivering a live running app experience at scale

When Sprintcrowd was in the planning stages, the team behind the app knew it would launch into a crowded market, but had big plans to ensure it would stand out from the crowd. They wanted Sprintcrowd to offer a feature-rich, highly social experience – but, crucially, they also wanted it to be the world’s first truly live running app.

With a lean developer team of just five engineers, they knew that delivering on that vision would require a true cloud approach – building on AWS and stitching together a range of third-party solutions across live tracking, geo-positioning, running data analysis, voice streaming and more to create a powerful, seamless user experience. Every users’ GPS location, updated every five seconds, is used to calculate running distance and elevation, current and average running pace – to update a global leaderboard visible to all runners.

However, delivering all these features as part of a truly live experience was the killer feature that would ensure Sprintcrowd stood out and for that, the team knew it would need an outstanding realtime infrastructure partner. Sprintcrowd CEO, Victor Wigelius said: “The plan was to put realtime at the heart of the product, to create a unique live running app experience. 

“But to do that we needed a partner we could depend on, with all the protocols and adaptors we’d need to both gather runner data for processing, then fan it back out in the form of individual runner feedback and updates to the global leaderboard. In many ways, the entire app experience relies on realtime, so it needed to be highly performant, able to scale as we grow and adaptable enough to move with us as we innovate and enhance the user experience.”

Live in 4 months

Accelerated time-to-market

Up to 1,000,000

Concurrent connections across 50,000 simultaneous running events

Sprintcrowd is the world’s first live running app: being realtime is our unique differentiation. If realtime doesn’t work, users don’t just get a lesser experience, they get no experience at all. The app simply would not work. Without Ably, there’d be no Sprintcrowd. And it’s been crucial to our success so far.

Victor WigeliusCEO, Sprintcrowd
THE SOLUTION
Product-critical realtime ‘that just works’

After assessing a number of potential realtime partners, Sprintcrowd’s solution engineer identified Ably as offering the ideal solution – able to work seamlessly with AWS and third-party solutions like Roam.io and Agora while delivering the pure realtime performance and scalability it needed. 

What’s more, the team was confident – based on Ably’s documentation and initial discussions - that it would be simple to set up and integrate with the app’s wider infrastructure, easy to maintain and scale for the future, and fit perfectly with the business’s go-to-market strategy.

Wigelius commented: “Ably was an easy choice in the end and absolutely lived up to its promises. It was so easy to implement and it just worked, straight off the bat. In fact, it quickly became a key component of our technology strategy, which is all about using third-party solutions wherever we can. Ably is very much part of the glue that holds it all together to support a truly live running app experience without the huge technology overheads, risks, and time investment that come with self-build.”

Live in 4 months

Accelerated time-to-market

Up to 1,000,000

Concurrent connections across 50,000 simultaneous running events

THE RESULTS
A live running app that's ahead of the pack

Today, Ably supports exactly the live experience that Sprintcrowd envisaged as its go-to-market point of difference – in fact, it is the world’s first live running app, loved by amateurs and world famous runners like Swedish marathon record holder Mustafa ‘Musse’ Mohamed.

Wigelius explained: “Quite early on in the prototype stage we managed to persuade Musse to test Sprintcrowd along with a number of other world-class athletes, and the feedback was just fantastic. Straight away these athletes recognised that the live experience was something totally new and different, giving them a much better understanding of performance as they run. Of course, that translates to amateur runners too, both in terms of performance tracking but also in the social and gamified elements like leaderboards. Without Ably, Sprintcrowd would just be another running app.”

That is why Ably’s realtime performance, reliability and scalability have been so important, he pointed out: “If realtime doesn’t work, then it’s not that users get a lesser experience, they get no experience at all. The app simply would not work. In that way, Ably’s performance at scale – we’re talking up to one million runners at a time - has been crucial to our success so far.”

Scalability and the ease with which Sprintcrowd can provide capacity on demand has also been crucial to its go-to-market strategy, which is essentially a business-to-business partnership approach targeting large organisations. “That means we might have 50,000 events happening at once, with maybe 50 to 100 in each, but Ably makes it so easy to cope with that. We simply scale out, with more channels so almost any scale is not a problem.”

Finally, Ably offers the adaptability Sprintcrowd needs to support further innovation without impacting on realtime performance. For instance, it will take a planned migration to Kakfa for data processing in its stride as well as supporting innovations like the addition of chat and on-demand run replays.

Live in 4 months

Accelerated time-to-market

Up to 1,000,000

Concurrent connections across 50,000 simultaneous running events

THE NUMBERS

Milestones at a glance

10,000 runners

on the platform within 6 months of launch

$375k saved

on self-build costs and operational expenses in the first year