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FitnessKeeper raises $1.1 million, led by O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, for social exercise app

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 30, 2010 11:05 AM

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jacobs.jpgCan you turn a hit iPhone app into a substantial business?

Lots of people, myself included, have been skeptical. But Jason Jacobs, founder of Boston-based FitnessKeeper Inc., is doggedly proving the skeptics wrong. (That's Jacobs, in the photo at right, running the 2009 Boston Marathon dressed as an iPhone.)

FitnessKeeper develops the RunKeeper iPhone app and companion Web site that encourage runners, bikers, and even cross-country skiers to track and share stats about their workouts and races. There's a free version of the RunKeeper app, but the company also sells a $9.99 pro version. (Yes, they've developed an Android version, too, and they have plans to support other smartphones soon.) One really cool feature is that athletes using RunKeeper can broadcast their performance in races live on the Web; here's an example of a Boston Marathon page from this past spring. The RunKeeper app can also collect information from a variety of fitness-related devices, like Garmin GPS watches, Polar heart monitors, and the Withings intelligent scale.

Jacobs says that his company is about to surpass three million users, and today he's announcing a $1.1 million funding round led by San Francisco-based O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. FitnessKeeper has now raised $1.5 million in total — some of it from local angel investors like Will Herman, Don McLagan, and Dave Balter, as well as the Cambridge seed fund LaunchCapital.

Jacobs says he has nine employees working at FitnessKeeper's world headquarters in the South End. He expects FitnessKeeper's headcount to double in 2011, mainly in marketing and engineering. The company was among the first 200 apps to launch in Apple's iTunes Store back in 2008.

Update: Here's Jacobs' blog post about the new funding, and another from Bryce Roberts of O'Reilly.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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