The Runners' Code: 6 Things I learnt from Starting a Running Brand
If you don't know the Runly story, let me give you a brief background.
I started Runly because I needed a way to carry my life-saving medication with me out on runs. It wasn't enough to just carry them in my pocket, you know as well as I do how annoying it is to have something jumping and jingling in your pockets.
I tried a couple of running belts. They were horrendous. How could a running belt possibly bounce more than shoving stuff in my pockets?
The thought came to me, what if I could create my own? I went off and created the first sample. It was just meant to be for me. After wearing it on some runs and I had other people ask me what it was, and how they could get one.
So a limited run was initiated. Only 100.
They sold out in a matter of weeks.
Rarely do you see such solid traction like that. I felt somewhat of an obligation to pursue this path, not just one that would help runners carry their stuff better, but one that would create a community, enhance the enjoyment for runners and ultimately create better and more innovative products.
You can read about the full story here.
I've been running my whole life, been around other runners, watched running and bought many running products.
But it wasn't until I started 'running' a running brand that I learnt so much about the sport, the activity and runners themselves.
These are six things I've learnt from starting and growing Runly:
1. Running is about community
Running isn't just about putting one foot in front of the other; it's about being part of a vibrant community that transcends geographical boundaries and personal differences.
From local run clubs buzzing with energy to the virtual camaraderie of online forums and social media groups, the running community provides a sense of belonging and support for runners of all levels.
I've joined Facebook groups with over a million members of runners from all over the world.
Through these channels, runners share advice, encouragement, and experiences, forging bonds that extend far beyond the finish line.
At Runly, we've witnessed firsthand the power of community in uniting runners and shaping their journey. These connections strengthen our brand's relationship with customers, creating a network of like-minded individuals who inspire and uplift one another on their running adventures.
In 2024 we're aiming to attend more than 10 events around the country as well as organising local runs, too.
2. Storytelling is important in life, and running
Storytelling holds a profound significance in the realm of running, serving as a conduit for encapsulating the essence of our most incredible and uplifting experiences on the road, trail or track.
Whether it's the exhilaration of conquering a personal best or the triumph over adversity in the face of a gruelling race, stories have the power to immortalise these moments in a way that transcends mere statistics or achievements.
What Strava doesn't show you is the emotion, the journey, the adrenaline and the feeling of being alive.
At Runly, we recognise the transformative potential of storytelling in not only communicating our brand values but also in inspiring others and fostering emotional connections with our audience. By weaving narratives that resonate with the aspirations and challenges of runners, we aim to ignite a shared passion for the sport and cultivate a sense of community among our followers.
There is nothing we enjoy more than sharing the stories of Runly runners out there smashing events, getting outside and most importantly, enjoying their running.
We'll tell those stories all day, every day.
3. Runners know what they want (mostly), and what they need
Runners are finely attuned to the nuances of the sport and the gear that supports their pursuits.
And let me tell you, that makes my job so much easier.
In the early days of Runly, I spent 12 hours crawling websites, Amazon, eBay and some big-name brands just to listen to the feedback from runners.
It was an incredible exercise, because some of my assumptions of what runners wanted were not necessarily correct - even though I am one of them!
The most standout feedback I observed across that day was the fact that runners do not like bounce.
A vest that bounces? No thanks.
A belt that bounces? No thanks.
In many ways, that was one of the key reasons I even started Runly. To knock out bounce.
By actively seeking and listening to customer feedback, we gain invaluable insights into the features and functionalities that matter most to runners. This feedback not only shapes our product development process but also informs our marketing strategies, ensuring that we communicate the benefits of our offerings in a way that resonates with runners - both new and experienced.
4. I love running
I don't know if this is something that I have learnt. But it's certainly been re-affirmed to me.
There's an indescribable joy in pushing my limits, conquering new distances, and witnessing the sunrise during an early morning run. These personal moments of triumph and introspection fuel my unwavering passion for the sport.
All I can hope is that some of my passion for running, for the outdoors, for sport and for community transcend into the Runly brand.
5. We need to make new runners welcome and comfortable at all times
Inclusivity and accessibility are fundamental principles that underpin the ethos of the running community.
At Runly, we believe that every individual should feel welcomed and empowered to embark on their running journey, regardless of their background or experience level.
If you didn't grow up running, or at least get involved early, you may have found it to be a little bit daunting.
Perhaps you might find it daunting to show up at your local run club in fear of your pace compared to others, or maybe it's daunting to know which gear is right for you.
That's something that I want to make sure that we do at Runly - make running accessible for everyone.
One of the ways is being able to communicate our message clearly and simply, not using unnecessary running jargon where it's not needed and making our product pages super clear.
6. Gear matters
In the realm of running, the significance of high-quality gear cannot be overstated—it's the silent partner that accompanies every step, elevating the experience and safeguarding against potential pitfalls.
It's about performance, comfort, and injury prevention. But it's also about how it makes you feel.
Running is a combination of performance and enjoyment.
Commitment to quality and innovation isn't just lip service; it's reflected in the testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers who have experienced the transformative benefits of our gear firsthand. These stories serve as a testament to the importance of investing in gear that's as dedicated to your running journey as you are.
Here's to many more learnings in the next few years.