SPOTLIGHT ON: FitrWoman powered by Orreco
INITIAL APP LAUNCH: 2016
FOUNDERS: Grainne Conefrey and Georgie Bruinvels
HEAD OFFICE : Galway, Ireland
In September 2018, SportsTech Ireland and Kemmy Business School, UL launched the Sports Entrepreneurship Masterclass, which was the very first of its kind in Ireland. The two day event welcomed athletes, entrepreneurs, coaches and leading sports innovators to participate and present at the event. Over the course of the two days, there were many insightful lectures. One of the standout product talks, in terms of ingenuity and innovation, was given by Orreco Product Development Manager and FitrWoman Co-Founder Grainne Conefrey.
FitrWoman allows female athletes to optimise performance during their menstrual cycle. Many studies have highlighted that the menstrual cycle can be a major deterrent for women partaking in sport. In a study conducted by Populus on behalf Orreco, 54% of women have had to stop exercising as a result of their menstrual cycle. This increases to 73% in 16 to 24-year-olds. In a separate study by Women in Sport it was identified that 42% of women do not exercise while on their period. The FitrWoman app is helping to combat these issues. The app helps athletes to track their menstrual cycle. It then provides personalised training and nutritional suggestions tailored to the changing hormone levels throughout the cycle. We caught up with Grainne to discuss how the product came about, the remarkable highs to date and what’s next for this invaluable product.
Intrapreneurship and the Development of FitrWoman
Although FitrWoman first launched in the Apple Store in 2016, the seeds were planted years previously. Grainne graduated from UCD with a degree in Sports & Exercise Management. Her first job out of college was outside of Ireland in Boston where she worked with Hill Holiday Marketing Agency. Grainne explained the relevance of this role.
“One of the biggest clients was Major League Baseball and I was working with the MLB account team. In this role I was working closely with the marketing team, developing the next seasons campaign. I also had to research and analyse the other major competitive sports in the USA. This included the NBA, NFL, NHL. It was an amazing experience.”
This experience gave Grainne her first taste of working with elite athletes. Upon moving back to Ireland she wanted to continue in this field and started working with Orreco in Sligo. Orreco is a company that is well known to SportsTech Ireland. It was founded in 2009 by Dr. Brian Moore and Dr. Andrew Hodgson. Their goal is to use proven sports and data science to enable elite athletes to perform at their best.
It was through this role that Grainne met Georgie Bruinvels. Georgie is a research scientist who,at the time, was completing a PHD on female athletes and the effect of the menstrual cycle on performance.
“Through her research, Georgie was discovering all these fascinating insights, most of which weren’t widely known by the public. There was information on how the body changes during the menstrual cycle and how you can adapt your nutrition to perform better during your cycle. The more we spoke, the more we decided that this is something that all female athletes should know. We decided to pitch our idea to Orreco and see where it would take us.”
This bit of intrapreneurship proved vital to FitrWoman’s success. Having the backing and support of an established sports science company afforded them huge opportunity for growth.
“Orreco gave us a small fund to put toward the development of the first version of FitrWoman. Initially, we outsourced the development to create an MVP version. However, after the success of this version, Orreco backed us even further and we were able to bring development in-house. We have a fantastic product team and sports science team to help us with future development. FitrWoman has very much become a part of the Orreco roadmap. Having the support of Orreco from the start has been incredible and has created some great opportunities for us.”
Forbes, CNN, Ladies GAA and the US Swimming Team
FitrWoman is the first app of its kind on the market. Although there are other apps that help women to track their menstrual cycle, there is none that come from the angle of physiology and sporting performance. FitrWoman has been able to use this innovative angle as well as the help from a very well established company in Orreco, to garner worldwide attention and achieve success that is very inspiring for such a fledgling product.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of great moments already. We were featured in Forbes Magazine, CNN, Italian Vogue and The Guardian. Georgie recently did a podcast with Judy Murray (Scottish Tennis Coach and Creator of Miss-Hits, mother of Andy Murray), who is a massive fan of the app. Sonia O’ Sullivan has also been introducing the app to younger athletes. Outside of that we were also featured in the App Store under ‘Best New Apps’. That’s something I like to tell people. Getting featured on the app store is much harder than you’d think. There are millions of apps out there!
In the past year, we have been working with some amazing athletes. Amongst others, we work closely with the Oregon Track Club in America and British Cross Country Champion, Emelia Górecka, has become a brand ambassador.
We have also signed some exciting partnership deals with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and with the USA Female Swimming Team. The LGFA are a fantastic organisation to work with and we both have very similar goals to increase participation and awareness. Five players have also signed up as ambassadors. Working with the US Swimming Team will be a science and research partnership. It’s a partnership that we hope both sides will learn a huge amount from”
Bringing an Elite Performance Platfrom to the General Public
FitrWoman is available to all users for free on the App Store. When the app was initially launched, it was aimed specifically at elite athletes. However, Georgie and Grainne quickly realised that they could translate the information in a way that was accessible and beneficial to the general public. While working with their elite athletes, Grainne and Georgie were able to build a bank of questions that athletes were interested in. This has helped them to develop the app even further.
Along with this, FitrWoman continues to grow its coaching platform. This is a paid offering where coaches can monitor their own athletes. The coach has access to a team dashboard. Through this dashboard players upload information about any symptoms they might be experiencing or where they are in their menstrual cycle. The coach is then given suggested plans tailored to individual’s needs. The platform helps coaches to better understand the players and work with them to optimise performance.
An Ambitious Vision for the Future
It is a testament to the ingenuity and effectiveness of the app that FitrWoman was featured in such prestigious publications as Forbes and CNN. Aside from the positive feedback and media spotlight, FitrWoman is also starting to grow a dedicated community of users. This early success has afforded Grainne to look ahead to a very positive future.
“At the moment we are putting a huge amount of focus on app-performance and user engagement. To make a great app, you need to constantly be upgrading and making improvements with your target user in mind.
We are putting a big emphasis on making our content very user-friendly. We also want our users to be able to interpret the data they are capturing in FitrWoman and make it beneficial and actionable for them. Right now, we are focusing on creating charts and insights to allow users to track their cycle and activity over time. Something else that we are pursuing is ‘wearables’ and integrating devices such as FitBits and Apple Watches into FitrWoman“
And the Grand Vision for FitrWoman?
Our big ambition is to be the number one exercise tool for women. We want FitrWoman to become part of a daily routine. That desire is what is driving us forward right now.”
It is very inspiring to see an Irish Sports Technology company making such big strides and having such a positive impact on females in sport. If early signs are anything to go by there is a very bright future for Grainne, Georgie and their team at FitrWoman and Orreco. We would like to say a massive thank you to Grainne for sharing her story. For all our readers, be sure to head over to the App Store and download the FitrWoman app.
If you would like to hear more from exciting Irish Sports Technology companies, why not check out our Spotlight on Kitman Labs. Kitman Labs have created another fascinating tool developed to assist in athlete’s performance.
To learn more about our recent Sports Entrepreneurship Masterclass, check out this blog post.