Entrepreneur

What Will Finally Get M'sians Running? This 22-Year-Old Believes It's Rewards.

  • JomRun is a mobile platform that rewards Malaysians for their running and walking activity.
  • Founded in December 2017, JomRun allows users to collect points when they go walking or running. These points can then be exchanged for a variety of products from their partners such as Zalora, Happy Fresh, and Brooks. There are also challenges that users can complete to win other freebies such as activewear and passes to fitness programmes.

When Malaysia weighed in last year as the Southeast Asian country with the highest number of obesity sufferers (13.3 percent of the population), it was a timely and damning evaluation of our eating habits and sedentary lifestyle choices.

Following the report, much ado was made about the problem and what should be done to curb it.

Aiming to peg back this bleak statistic, fitness rewards platform JomRun was created with the aim of helping Malaysians lead a more proactive and healthy lifestyle.

Run, Malaysia, Run

Operating through a smartphone app, JomRun encourages individuals to get moving by incentivising their running or walking activity with opportunities to earn freebies, discounts, and vouchers from partners such as Zalora, Brooks, and Liberty Active.

“We believe that people shouldn’t have to pay to run. Instead, people should get rewarded for running,” said founder Chang Yi Hern. “Malaysia has the highest obesity prevalence in Southeast Asia, I’ve always wanted to find a solution to this problem.”

The JomRun app was inspired by Pokémon GO’s achievement in getting people to start moving more by offering them incentives such as the ability to find new Pokémon and other things that make their movement worthwhile.

“Driven by Pokémon GO’s success, I believe I can do the same with JomRun,” Yi Hern said.

“Malaysians generally like vouchers and discounts, so why not motivate them to run by rewarding them with free gifts?”

The usage of the JomRun app is simple enough. After downloading it through the AppStore or PlayStore, users will be able to connect it to other fitness trackers and apps to enable the tracking of their movement and activity.

Inside the JomRun app, where you can link to running apps and scroll through available rewards.

They can collect points with whenever they go out on a walk or run, and use these points to redeem things such as discounts on pet grooming services from JomPaw, cut-price fitness lessons from Oxbold and The Running Plan, and vouchers for food items from HappyFresh.

Then there are also challenges that users can complete to win free things such as sportswear and access to fitness classes.

“Might As Well”

An Engineering Degree Student at Oxford University, Yi Hern (22 this year) together with his team launched JomRun in December 2017, and has so far seen encouraging response in regards to user adoption.

“Organic growth has been really high since we first launched,” he said. “Whenever we have roadshows at running events, people always find our idea interesting.”

He also shared a bit on how JomRun gets new users to come aboard, including setting up booths at running events and creating awareness about health and fitness issues.

Image Credit: JomRun

“The strategy is to always think about our users and to always move in a direction where JomRun can benefit our users the most,” he explained.

“When you understand your users, your business grows.”

“’Since you run every day, you might as well get rewarded for it’ is what we always hear our users say. So far, the challenges and offers on JomRun have received popular response from the public with a total of 3,000 challengers and 400 offers redeemed so far.”

According to Yi Hern, JomRun is currently the only free app in Malaysia that rewards people for running.

“The thing that makes us different is that everything is free in JomRun,” he said. “We’re a mobile app built for runners by runners.”

“Our algorithm makes sure that your running or walking activity is rewarded on the intensity of the run, including distance, speed, and elevation.”

Hitting The Checkpoints

With their operations having only started recently, JomRun has already achieved some mini milestones which Yi Hern is quite proud of, including the opening of their new office in Cyberjaya and their success in receiving seed funding from Sunway iLabs and Nexea Angels.

“We’ve managed to gain a bit of a reputation in the running ecosystem,” he said. “As a runner myself who always joins running events all over Malaysia, I’m delighted to know that JomRun has built its own reputation, particularly within the Klang Valley.”

But even with these little victories, Yi Hern is still giving his all to making sure JomRun reaches its full potential, including juggling between his studies in the UK and his fledgling startup in Malaysia.

“I find it challenging to juggle both my studies and my startup, but I’ve dedicated most of my time to the development of JomRun,” he said. “Using what I’ve gained from two part-time jobs, the stock market, and scholarship living expenses as my capital, I managed to put together a small team in 2017.”

“We are a team of seven coming from very diverse backgrounds and experiences—engineers, medical students, food scientists, and etcetera.”

“But despite the big difference in our backgrounds, we all love running and we share the same goal—to advocate a healthy lifestyle to the Malaysian populace.”

Planning For The Long Run

Currently, JomRun has about 30 partner companies, and they plan to collaborate with even more in the hopes of growing their user base to 100,000 users by the end of 2018.

JomRun founder Chang Yi Hern / Image Credit: JomRun

“We are in talks to provide discounted prices for activities such as rock climbing, indoor surfing, and sky diving,” Yi Hern said. “We hope that this can encourage people to engage in more ‘active’ activities during the weekend instead of sitting in front of the couch watching TV.”

“I hope that more and more people start engaging in fitness activities because of JomRun,” he added.

“One day, JomRun will be the most influential running app in Asia.”

Feature Image Credit: JomRun

 

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