Good Works interview: Moolathon
We have partnered with some movement-making clients through our Good Works program. This interview is part of a series where we check in with our 2020 partners in the lead-up to our application window opening in June.
Moolathon is a fitness fundraiser platform startup. In the summer of 2020, we worked together toward a refined brand identity and voice. Kate recently called up Mac Wilkinson, Moolathon Founder, to see what they’ve been up to since.
Kate Baughman (KB): Hey, Mac. Thanks for taking a minute to talk. You all have been quite busy.
Mac Wilkinson (MW): A lot has happened since we worked together. We’ve got some exciting things coming.
KB: Before we get there, though, I want to hear your story from the beginning. Take me all the way back.
MW: Sure. We started working on our platform the year before the pandemic —
KB: No, before that. I hear Pokemon is involved somehow?
MW: Ha. Right. It does indeed go back to Pokemon Go when people started going to augmented reality gyms. I remember the discussion around it being, ‘Wow, it’s great that these kids are getting out.’ And I’m thinking: Sure. These kids are getting out but they’re still zombie-ing around on their devices. I started wondering how we could get people out, still using their devices to connect with each other, but adding a physical health element to it. What if we could use that competition as a way to motivate people to get more fit?
KB: And thus was born Moolathon.
MW: Right. It started as just that: purely a competition-based platform. But as we started talking to more people, we realized that we could also do some good by applying the crowdfunding business model to it. Really, it’s a way for us to do some good first in communities across the country, and hopefully, one day, in communities around the world.
KB: Now take me to pre-2020.
MW: We started testing in November of 2019. In March of 2020, we were still testing. Shortly after the shutdown, we started getting emails from event organizers looking for alternatives for their physical events. At first, we told folks we weren’t ready yet but we’d keep them posted. But you can only say no to so many emails. It became evident that we needed to push this thing out there.
KB: No time like the present.
MW: Exactly. In my eyes, the product is never done anyway. So it was a bit of a blessing to get that push. It also helped us with product discovery. Up to that point, we had a small test pool. We were now able to see holes in our theories of how people wanted to use our platform and discover new ways that people wanted to use it. This ultimately has led us, almost a year later, to a huge new version — pushed out, molded, and shaped by our community base.
KB: What is the Moolathon community like?
MW: Moolathoners are a pretty diverse crowd. We’re proud of that. There are some serious runners, but for the most part, they’re people who want to show support for a cause. Traditional race events are always a tough ask. Moolathon makes it easier.
KB: Can you explain that a little more?
MW: Just about everybody has some experience using fitness to raise money. But it’s tough to ask somebody to wake up at seven in the morning on their off day, come to your event venue, give you $30-50, participate in your event, and then go home with a t-shirt. That’s a lot to ask to make somebody feel good about giving back.
This year with Moolathon, a lot of people have realized that this is a way to bring everything together and to make it as convenient as possible. You can participate via Moolathon anytime, anywhere, on your own time.
KB: What was one of your biggest challenges in launching Moolathon?
MW: Educating users. What we do is a little complex because you can use it in two ways. Organizations can use it to host events and plan races. And individuals can use it to raise money with the miles that they personally run or walk. Our work together — streamlining the language, tweaking the visual identity — helped us clarify our voice and message. That was huge for helping to educate our users.
KB: What’s next for Moolathon?
MW: We’re growing every day. We just won another startup competition involving an investment. We also opened an investment round, and that is huge. We’re raising a million dollars to grow our platform. Right now, we are only available on iOS. We’re working on an Apple watch platform. And we’re also expanding to Android, and eventually, to Garmin watches.
KB: [flashes Garmin]
MW: Yeah, I see that!
KB: It is hard to miss.
MW: Haha. When the app is compatible with Garmin, we’ll have to get you signed up.
KB: Yes! Big things are happening over at Moolathon. It’s exciting to see it take off.
MW: Big things indeed. We’re looking forward to more growth and more work with the Bullhorn team in the future.
KB: You know we are up for the challenge.
We work with two Good Works partners each year, but we are always accepting applications.