We talked to Jorge García Betanzos of RUNNEA about runners’ products , and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jorge García Betanzos: Fortunately, everything is going well in terms of health. Neither I nor my closest relatives have had major problems with the COVID-19, and that is the most important thing.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded RUNNEA.
Jorge García Betanzos: My career has covered many areas. I programmed, generated content, worked in the sales departments, and worked as a product manager but always in digital environments. The opportunity of starting up RUNNEA with two of my colleagues (Gorka Cabañas and Guillermo Chavarri) arrived after a long time working in the same place. It was a perfect opportunity because the desire to set up a new digital project was joined by a super complementary team. I would be in charge of the business and sales part, Gorka of the digital marketing and product area, and Guillermo all related to technology. It was, and it still is a perfect combination.
How does RUNNEA innovate?
Jorge García Betanzos: Innovation is a very easy word to say but then is much more complicated to put into practice. Innovation always arises from constant restlessness, from not settling for what already exists. Only if you are tremendously nonconformist can you be innovative? And that is in the blood of the three founders, we are nonconformists, and that is what turns the rest of the team on. After that desire, you have to put processes to innovate. It sounds a bit contradictory because innovating requires breaking the mold, but putting it into practice you have to dedicate time, and you have to have a very well thought out process.
We have managed to put it into practice through RUNNEA Academy. There we have the firm will to improve any person’s physical condition in an individualized way, from those who only want to stop being sedentary to those who want to run an ultra marathon. And also, and most important of all, our challenge is to do it in a fun way. We want the user to have fun while playing sports.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jorge García Betanzos: COVID has set a before and after in the world, and we are aware of that. Face to face world has become more complicated this year, and yet the digital environment has advanced 5 years at a time. Our business is now more mature, but we also want to go back to pre-COVID times like everybody else.
The data shows that our traffic grew by 4 or even by 5 times in the same periods of the previous year, but on the other hand it has been a lack of massive in-person events that are an important engagement activity for us. What we have done this year has been to focus 100% on improving the product and growing internationally, and clearly, we have achieved it.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jorge García Betanzos: The first weeks were extremely stressful. Although I have commented that our traffic grew by 4 and 5 times, it fell by 70% or even more in the first weeks. There were few incomes, and there were many people to take care of (we are more than 20 people in the project already). We had just become a large team, and the most reasonable decision would have been to fire part of the staff. What we did was asked the entire staff to make an effort to temporarily reduce their income (founders included) to be able to face the crisis as a team. We did not have a single complaint, and in a few weeks, we recovered, returned to normal and even compensated for those losses.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and RUNNEA in the future?
Jorge García Betanzos: I’m personally passionate about working on what we are building. I don’t think I’m lying if I say I’m a workaholic. But as a good entrepreneur, there are many moments of tension, stress and times when things take more than one trial. In those moments, you have to go back to the bases, and for me, they are my wife and my two small children. I always think that they are the most important. This is a very “mainstream” statement, but I think it’s the truth. Besides, I also believe that the most important thing is to enjoy a hypothetical success path. Like everyone else, we have our goals, but if you suffer too much to reach them, the road becomes very hard for you and that is not good news.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jorge García Betanzos: We compete with companies like Strava, Adidas Runtastic, Nike Run Club. Companies with many millions of euros of budget and we do it from perseverance in the main objectives and the passion for constant innovation. Without that, we wouldn’t be able to continue.
We have many differential points in the personalized training part, which is a technology that we have evolved a lot, and that is why we plan to compete a lot and well.
Your final thoughts?
Jorge García Betanzos: We want to remain nonconformist and continue to innovate to improve the world of health and personalized training on a massive scale.
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