Fitbit: Making Data Work For You

For many in the fitness industry, Fitbit has become a household name. However, just over a decade ago, Fitbit was nothing more than a wooden box. Since that time, they have risen to become a $4-billion-dollar company and a major player in the wearable technology market. This has left many to wonder: what’s their secret?

Fitbit has made a name for themselves by tracking personal data for their members. Whether it be related to sleep, exercise, or several other areas, they are tracking it. As a company, Fitbit is the best at making the data work for them. As we review their business model and the success they have found, remember that all it takes is a good idea and a lot of data.


An unlikely story

In 2007, James Park and Eric Friedman saw potential for using sensors on small, wearable devices. Apparently they weren’t the only ones. After receiving $400,000 in funding, the duo took the idea to the TechCrunch 50 conference in hopes of garnering attention and hopefully pre-orders.

When they set out, they hoped to get 50 pre-orders from that first conference, but ended up with 2,000. A year later, they were selling 20,000 units and realized that they had something working. As they continued to sell new products, Fitbit was able to evolve into the company you know today by taking risks and getting involved in new technology.

Making data work for you

One of the main reasons for Fitbit’s success has been due to their leveraging of user engagement metrics. Since Fitbit users are almost always wearing their product, Fitbit has a unique ability to track the movements and patterns of their customers. By using this information well, they have been able to create better products and deliver better results than ever before.

Unfortunately, this kind of data tracking has put them in hot water as well. For instance, they have been accused by members of the government of tracking users data to sell to third-party companies. While Fitbit has denied these claims and put in measures to tighten security, it’s a good reminder of why handling customer information of this nature needs to be done carefully.

Exercise and activity

Exercise and daily activity is one of the metrics that Fitbits track for their customers. This can help them to better understand themselves and the way their body behaves in order to make decisions on what activities to pursue. Although it started with just a pedometer, modern Fitbits can track heart rate, calories lost, and more.

wearable tech fitbit

Food and weight

Fitbit also let’s their customers track their weight and what food they eat each day. Along with activity and exercise, this can give customers a good idea of where they are in their fitness journey and where they would like to be. By using this information to their benefit, Fitbit can make recommendations and even help customers see areas they need to improve.

Sleep tracking

An underrated but essential part of staying fit is sleeping well. Fitbit knows this and makes it a focus of their technology, as Fitbit allows you to track sleeping behavior as well. Not only can these help users to better understand their habits, but it can help notice unusual behavior like sleep apnea. This kind of data can actually save lives.

The success of Fitbit

Although they have had their ups and downs, Fitbit has been able to continue to be successful as the wearable market has taken off. In fact, Fitbit still maintains close to 20% of the wearables market. The way that they have done this is through smart evolution and practical partnerships that allow them to special their products for a variety of different scenarios.

Using data from their users, Fitbit sees how their product is being used. From these use cases, they can create either new apps or new products that best fit the scenario. This should be a sign to other businesses: listen to your customers. Fitbit has been able to remain relevant throughout the Apple watch years simply by letting their data work for them.

fitbit wearable


While the number of users fluctuates, Fitbit has 25 million active users currently and with recent acquisitions plans to continue to expand this number. Considering that just ten years ago the company was hoping to get just 50 pre-orders, this is an impressive feat.

Revenue model

Fitbit’s revenue model is relatively simple, as their main source of revenue is simply from selling their products. However, in recent years, Fitbit has established new partnerships in the healthcare industry, hoping to diversify their product line and open up new pathways for revenue to come in.


As wearables continue to rise in popularity, we likely haven’t even seen the peak of Fitbit yet. As more users come on, the more data that Fitbit has to work with in order to keep up the good work and help more of their customers. Their story is one that should be taken to heart when remembering why we track data and what it means to live in a data-driven world.


MyFitnessPal: A Smart Approach to Fitness

Over the last few decades, there has been a cultural shift in regards to fitness and staying healthy. Along with this shift there have been dozens of different apps and new technologies that have tried to encourage people on their fitness journey. One of the biggest players in the industry that has proven time and time again the importance of working smarter instead of harder is MyFitnessPal.

We will first talk about the history and success of MyFitnessPal. Along with that we will show how they were able to harness the power of app analytics into a user base of over 140 million. Without further ado, let’s start from the beginning.


From the beginning

This story begins where many fitness journeys often do: getting ready for a wedding. Back in 2005, Mike Lee, co-founder and CEO of MyFitnessPal was trying to lose weight with his then-fiancé before their wedding. After talking with a personal trainer, Mike and his wife received a list of nutritious foods and a note pad for tallying up their calorie intake.

Right away, Mike new that there was a better solution. Since he had been coding since he was 10 years old and wasn’t impressed with other apps or websites on the market, Lee decided to create his own program. This program would eventually turn into MyFitnessPal which would go on to be sold to Under Armor for $475 million dollars in 2015. Little did Mike know what the fitness world had in store for him when he wrote those first few lines of code 13 years ago.

How does MyFitnessPal work?

Now that you have some background on the company, let’s talk about some of the different features of MyFitnessPal that have set it apart in the past few years. As we mentioned earlier, at the time when Mike was putting together the app, there weren’t many fitness or nutrition trackers out there. And the ones that were did not do a satisfactory job, as they were either too cumbersome or full of bugs.

Along with creating a simpler app with a user-focused design, over time MyFitnessPal was able to add additional features that took fitness tracking to a whole new level.

Exercise and nutrition tracking

For instance, exercise and nutrition tracking, Mike and company were able to take a look at the poor design of other fitness tracking technologies and understand through user-stories the best approach to this conundrum. One of the first was one Mike saw himself in other fitness trackers: that you couldn’t save exercises or foods for repeat use. Something as simple as this was enough to give MyFitnessPal the legs it needed early on.

Fitness TrackingChecking in and seeing progress

Something else that was missing from other apps that would be uncovered through user engagement metrics was the ability to check-in and monitor progress. As anyone who has spent time around fitness clubs or gyms can attest, tracking progress is a huge component of fitness. Before MyFitnessPal, there was not an all-in-one solution to this problem.

Through the app users could do weekly weigh-ins where they would input their current weight and compare it with where you started. Additionally, the app will automatically update with this new information to reset your goals for the upcoming week in regards to calorie intake.

Habitual usage

The other great thing about MyFitnessPal is it encourages habitual usage by making things easier with each subsequent usage. While it may take a while to set up your goals and input your first few meals and exercises, soon users will only need to spend roughly 30 seconds updating the app. As we mentioned earlier, MyFitnessPal is able to work smarter instead of harder, something users love.

The success of MyFitnessPal

It’s no secret that MyFitnessPal has been one of the most successful fitness-related apps of the last decade. However, this kind of success doesn’t just happen by accident. Mike Lee and the rest of the MyFitnessPal team were able to meet their users and customers along their journey and help them wherever they are to get where they want to go.

This should be a lesson to others who are trying to do the same. It’s not about creating the most extraordinary technology or providing the best service (although these both help), it’s simply a matter of understanding your audience and really caring about your relationship with them. Once you treat your users right, the rest is easy.


Speaking of users, MyFitnessPal boasts over 165 million users and is able to improve the experience of all users by incorporating metrics and analytics from tracking each of their fitness journeys.

fitness tracker

Revenue model

While MyFitnessPal’s popularity is mainly due to it being a free app, they are able to earn money through premium memberships and ad revenue. The MyFitnessPal Premium offers advanced tools for tracking nutrition and exercise as well as removing ads for dedicated users. This is a good example of the “free-mium” model in use.

Other popular companies like Spotify and Hulu have taken advantage of this kind of revenue model. By allowing users to get the basic functions for free while running ads, you are able to make up the difference with ad revenue. However, once users are accustomed to the service, they will be more willing to pay you each month to avoid the ads. Either way it’s a win for your business and your customers.


Despite the fact that MyFitnessPal was acquired by Under Armor in 2015, they are still working tirelessly to serve their customers. As fitness continues to take off and fitness trackers like the FitBit and Apple Watch become more commonplace, the sky continues to be the limit for this fitness powerhouse.

For those who are hoping to get involved in the fitness world for themselves, MyFitnessPal is an excellent example of putting users first and creating a great customer experience for all. Do this for yourself and you’ll never have to worry about customer retention marketing or other ways of reducing churn rate again.