KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia-based running rewards app JomRun is looking for more wellness and fitness partners to help build on its growth in this emerging market.
Launched in December 2017, JomRun is Malaysia’s first running rewards app. It incentivizes its 6000 users with points and discounts and has 300-400 active users a day.
“Running is a new trend in South East Asia. As quality of life has improved, people have become more health conscious, and so running has started to really take off. Our organic growth has been really high since we first launched,” says JomRun founder, 21-year-old Chang Yi Hern. His team has successfully marketed the app primarily through in-person activations at running events throughout the country.
The health and fitness sector in Asia is booming with apps, wearables and other tech, and recently the industry has attracted millions of dollars in funding. Asia accounted for 30% of all investment deals in the fitness tech sector from January to October in 2017, up 10 percentage points from the year before.
According to Yi Hern, JomRun is the only free app in Malaysia that rewards people for running. The platform encourages users to collect points for the walks and runs they do and then exchange them for discounts or products from 30 partner companies, such as Happy Fresh, an online grocery delivery service, or wearables company Garmin.
The app is not a tracking device, though it can be linked to a range of existing tracking apps such as Strava, Polar and Apple Health.
“Malaysians like vouchers and discounts, and we give our partners – sports and fitness companies – the opportunity to reach out to their target audience. We are the first application in Asia to provide such targeting,” explains Yi Hern.
“We are definitely looking for more partners. They get to market their product direct to an enthusiastic audience, and help keep Malaysians healthy,” says Yi Hern. “We have already started collaborating with coaching companies to sell their running plans through the application. It is not easy to find running plans in South East Asia – it is a real gap in the market.”
Last year The Economist released a report, Tackling Obesity in ASEAN. It concluded that Malaysia had the highest rate of obesity in South East Asia – 13.3% of the population are obese, and 38.5% are overweight. The report showed that only a third of Malaysian adults had ever exercised, and only 14% exercised adequately.
“My mum always said that I needed to do something to benefit society, and so I started JomRun to give back and help people in Malaysia,” notes Yi Hern.
“We did our market research and there are some other running rewards apps out there, but none in Asia. Our users are primarily consistent, hardcore runners who run four to five times a week and want to be rewarded for their dedication, or younger audiences who are already engaged in using their smartphones frequently and who want to take advantage of the challenges or offers we provide.”
Yi Hern launched JomRun even though he was in his second year of studying engineering at Oxford University. But, he started running when he was 15 and saw the value in it as a form of exercise. In March, JomRun was handpicked as one of seven startups to receive RM50,000 in seed funding from Sunway’s non-profit incubator, Sunway iLabs and Nexea Angels.
The startups were chosen from over 200 applications based on best growth potential. Each startup will also receive RM150,000 worth of Google Cloud credits, development support from experts and researchers, free legal advice and networking opportunities with experienced entrepreneurs and advisors.
According to Yi Hern, “the rest of 2018 will be focused on creating more value for our users and getting more partners and more runners on board. We hope to extend to another country in South East Asia in 2019.”