Airbnb co-founder backs UCL entrepreneurs' running app
RunTroll will receive mentoring from Airbnb and seed investment from UCL
A UCL start-up has received backing from peer-to-peer accommodation provider Airbnb for its exercise app that aims to make running more enjoyable.
RunTroll, which beat four other student start-ups to become the winner of a competition organised by the UCL Entrepreneurs Society this week, will receive mentoring from Airbnb staff, as well as an undisclosed sum of money from a UCL seed investment fund.
The app, created by students Nicholas Tenhue, Manfred Micaux, Angie Skazka and David Pribil, all of whom are studying the MSc ICT Innovation at UCL, aims connects runners across the world in real-time in order to provide a multi-player race experience.
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Users compete in races to move up or down global rankings, and become the fastest “Troll” in all of “Trollvania”.
Pribil, who pitched the concept to the judging panel, said: "We are super excited to receive mentoring from one of the most innovative and high impact companies around today. We will definitely run with this idea – no pun intended.
"So far we have been keeping things lean and mean with a devoted set of early adopters. We feel that we are now ready to upscale, so we will be searching for funding and partners to help us reach the finish line."
When development is finished, the app will be available to download for free on Google Play, the App Store and the Windows Phone Store.
Airbnb CTO Nathan Blecharczyk sat on the judging panel and said: “I was really impressed by all of the pitches from the UCL Entrepreneurs Society. It’s a real testament to the talent within the UK university community. RunTroll just had the edge and we look forward to giving them support to help them on the next phases of their journey.”
Airbnb, although technically still a start-up itself at just five years old, is days away from closing a large funding round that could value the company at $10 billion (£6.06 billion).
Since launching in 2008, the San Francisco-headquartered company has disrupted the accommodation market by providing a trusted community marketplace for people to list and book accommodation around the world, online or through a mobile phone. It includes many unique properties, including over 600 castles.