Entrepreneur

A M'sian App Challenges You To A 100km Run—But Don't Worry, Even Beginners Can Join

When we found out that there was a running motivator app named BiiB, we thought that it was a cute play on words for one of those running bibs you get for a marathon.

After all, the app kind of functions like a virtual marathon.

But instead of measuring kilometres to earn medals and certificates (which is the standard distance running), BiiB looks at the number of days you participate instead.

They also send you a tee and a medal for joining, so you get real gratification for the virtual challenge.

A Biib tee and also the wooden medal that they send.

To our surprise, Sheyong of BiiB told us that the name comes not from the running bib, but from the “rhythm one hears during a running session”.

As in, BiiB… BiiB… BiiB…

Sheyong thinks that running is a lonely sport. 

And perhaps this stems from his own experiences. He’s no stranger to running both here in Malaysia, and during his time as an electronic design engineer in South Korea.

However, his friends and family didn’t see his point of view.

“Invites to join me for a run were rejected most of the time with reasons like ‘Running is boring,’ or ‘Running is too hard,’ and there was no one to accompany me. Many of my friends who once ran with me eventually quit running too. These factors drove me to create BiiB.”

They’re using peer pressure to get you into those running shoes. 

We’re not sure how, but they apparently ran through bazaar Ramadhans too.

BiiB wants to bring running amateurs onboard. They started by launching BiiB early in July 2017 along with what they’re calling their 100 Day Challenge.

Now costing RM79 to join, runners are tasked with achieving 100 kilometres in 100 days. According to Sheyong, it just takes under 15 minutes a day to run the 1 km.

BiiB encourages runners to join the virtual teams on their app, BiiB+.

“We are especially excited with the statistics we get from our users,” said Sheyong.

“Our data shows that they not only use our app when they want to go for a run, but they also check their progress frequently, in addition to their friends’ and team’s progress too. This is exactly what we wish to achieve—connect runners, let them motivate and excite each other, and go the extra mile together.”

The app isn’t yet available on iOS, but the small team of 4 is moving to rectify this by the end of the year.

Thanks to these efforts, the team said that they’ve seen above 700 join-ins in July alone. 

And of those, over half of that number are on the app.

The team told us that the app will always be free, because charging for an app will not work in ASEAN countries, their target audience.

However, all of the good stuff on the platform (the challenges, joining teams etc.) will be charged, and that’s how BiiB will be making money on this venture.

“Hosting exciting challenges will be our major revenue stream for now. Other than that, we are going to help traditional event organisers to virtualise their running event by hosting the virtual version of the offline race and reach out to the runners in different ASEAN countries.”

“Eventually we would like to see ASEAN to grow into an active, runners and pedestrian-friendly region with exciting and high standard races that brings everyone together,” said Sheyong.

What the app looks like.

Since users pay per challenge, the team will have keep coming up with good ones that people will be motivated to buy into.

Their target audience is amateurs, who are the most likely to give up during the initial stage due to lack of motivation and the feeling of loneliness when running alone.

However, that doesn’t mean that they’re sidelining seasoned runners. “We believe that seasoned runners can positively influence the amateurs. Hence, we will be diversifying our future events and challenges to cater to the different groups of runners.”

There are multiple running apps on the market already, so what makes theirs special? 

Sheyong thinks that so far, all the other apps serve as measuring tools. All of them are lumped together into one running app conglomerate, with none standing out from the fold.

Meanwhile, BiiB wants to localise the running experience, because “you run in your neighbourhood, local park and street”.

The running culture is closely tied to where you are. He gives an example of the flag-off times for marathons.

In places like South Korea, flag-off times can start in the middle of the day, whereas in Malaysia, they often start late at night or in the wee hours of the morning so that they can avoid the sun.

“This is where BiiB+ comes in. Instead of making our app just another tool to track a runner’s performance, we focus on ways to motivate and encourage people to go running.”

“How we do this is by making our app easy to use, localising our services, and creating fun challenges for our runners by taking into consideration the varied local running scenes.”

BiiB’s habit-forming isn’t just for fledgling runners.

The National Stroke Association Of Malaysia (Johor Bahru) has also joined them.

According to Sheyong, their peer-to-peer motivation method has caught the attention of some stroke patients from the National Stroke Asociation of Malaysia (NASAM) who “took up our challenge to speed up their rehabilitation process.”

According to Sheyong, “They have an athlete’s spirit but traditional road races are just not for them. We feel honoured and proud that they are using our platform to help themselves.”

“Their determination and spirit is such an inspiration to us and we hope that they can inspire more people to get active too.”

Since BiiB is meant to turn running into a social sport, we think that the app could definitely benefit from tapping into the fitstagram community here, though that focuses more on seasoned runners rather than beginners.

But other than that, it’s an effort that aims to cultivate a more healthy culture which the famously sedentary Malaysians—as the most obese country in SEA—could definitely benefit from.