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Activities

Reigniting an Old Flame || Fuelr

When I was 18 (I think, it was such a frickin' long time ago), I used to sit in office buildings for 12 hours straight, working site security to pay for my university fees (well, beer money). I was fascinated by the idea of offering prescribed physical activity for people with chronic conditions, and for the prevention of disease in at-risk populations. 

I had completed a module in my sports studies degree, on this very subject. The NHS had not long released the framework for quality assurance, for the prescription of exercise and exercise referral schemes.

I used to write business plan after business plan, how I would construct a company to offer such services. I would talk to GPs and practise managers. I would do cashflow forecasts and P&Ls. I would research the equipment needs, and create startup cost budgets. 

Then I did nothing about it. Until now. 14 years later.

Not only am I now working on a next-generation Social Care platform, which is all about re-enablement and self-management of conditions, but I'm also working on a health and wellness platform for tracking and improving your overall wellbeing, by improving your knowledge and behaviour through the use of smart technologies and connected devices. I am now positioned to build something that does what I wanted, only a decade ago.

But, this is not the same plan - such has been the journey and has lead me back to this point. My education, in particular over the past 4 - 5 years, has armed me with what I was missing back then.

- Technical skills and the ability to execute.

- The mental processes that force me to ship a product

- Confirmation that my passion for this space is unyielding.

- Knowledge of a global market opportunity, enabled through technology, for distribution and scaleable business models.

The original idea was nice. But it wasn't scaleable. It was a lifestyle business idea, like a hairdressers, or an activity centre owner, or a restaurant owner.

I was in San Francisco 2 years ago, when I saw the idea, realised, working and gaining traction. A US startup called Wello had pulled together nascent real time video streaming protocols, such as webRTC, and modern web application development techniques, to offer a marketplace for exercise professionals.

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Go to the site, and you can take part in pilates, yoga, circuits, cross-training, strength training... you name it. Delivered by real experts, in real time, at any time, wherever you or they are.

Now, this really appeals to me, both conceptually and technically.

So, this thread of posts is going to follow my exploration into building a very similar service offering, with I think, some key differentiators. We'll tackle the main technical concepts, including:

  • Building a web services / API using Ruby on Rails
  • Building a native iOS application, specifically for iPad
  • Using webRTC and the different options available to make this easier
  • Creating an admin area for the business
  • Creating the web application front end views

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Fidgetstick/ 2.0 Preview - Screenshots & Overview

Well, it feels like it's been a super quick 2 months since we decided to totally rebuild the site. It was a decision that we took with the future and scalability in mind. Our old site was ok, but did nothing but reinforce that we were just another social network and we believe we have something more than that. We wanted our brand to mean something to adventurous people all around the world and we had to figure out how to reach them better, how to appeal to them and convince them that Fidgetstick/ is a community worth being part of.

So, with the imminent relaunch, I'm pleased to give you a sneak preview into the site, with a few cheeky screen shots I took without anyone knowing...

Here's the new homepage.

As you can see, we've gone for a much cleaner look. The main image and text is there to communicate more clearly about the main features of the new site. From the images in the bottom left corner, you can see that you have the ability to change the look of the site, very simply, at the touch of a button. We've created a small library of themes to get us started, but plan to increase this with branded templates, event-based templates, charity templates and all sorts.

You can also see in the top left corner, an example of the new modular flexibility function. You can basically move modules around and make the site look like you want it to look, not how we tell you it should.

You can also see that we've got Facebook Connect integration, allowing seamless login using your Facebook ID - goodbye multiple usernames!

Here's the new Profile Page

Here you can see a few of the main features on display. The most important feature of the new site is the extended profile information section (see left hand part of image). Here, you don't just select the sports you're into (like on the old site). No, no. Here you can create a much more detailed CV of your adventure sports interests and experience. This is really important for a few reasons. 1) The community wants to know more about you and sharing this information is very interesting and 2) we use this information to connect you with people that can help you realise your goals or objectives for that activity. For instance, connecting people who want to try a sport out, with someone who is qualified and loves to teach it.

A few other features include Twitter integration for your status updates - post here and it autoposts to your twitter account too (if you choose). You can put your Facebook photos on your profile page without re-uploading anything. You can see where all your friends are on a cool interactive map and there's loads of other fascinating apps available or in development using our very accessible and flexible API.

Here's the new Product Page

Now this is seriously cool, and I for one can't wait to start using this properly and sharing it with the world. In November, we committed to building the largest single product database for adventure sports products across all sports categories. So far, we've input over 10,000 products by hand (no data feeds or anything). Our plan is to partner with shops and brands to increase this massively to include products from the past and ensuring continued updates in the future. Here you can find information, review, rate and discuss products. At the top of the page, you can also see the "Had It, Got It, Want It" feature. This allows you to create a personal product profile around your own adventure sports products - what snowboard you had, what bike you want, what scuba gear you're using. It will allow you to see what your friends have, have had or want. If you're looking to buy, you can seek out current or past owners and seek their advice. The possibilities are huge here. Personally, I'm just looking forward to getting the embeddable widget done so I can also show off my products on my blog, facebook and other sites.

So, there's a quick snapshot of some of the main features of the new site. I hope you like the look of it and that you'll spare a minute or two to check it out when we announce the go-live next week. We really would like to bring adventurous people from all around the world to join us in being active, interesting, passionate and friendly community members.

As always, your comments, feedback, advice and opinion is appreciate - just leave your comments below or tweet @r3trosteve  

Activity Centre Reviews on Fidgetstick/ - Video

 Fidgetstick/ is a community full of adventurous people who just love to get out and get involved in all sorts of sports and activities. As a community and as a team, we at Fidgetstick/ don't just take part, but we also create reviews, articles and other content around our experiences. We use our expertise to rate the companies we encounter and develop relationships with along the way. We share our content and our opinions around the social web.

We love good reviews, so do most people. Bad reviews are not that common, but when they arise, they are always constructive and helpful to the companies and providers involved.

As a community we are defined by our willingness to take part, try new things and help others to do the same, so this is a perfect resource for anyone who is thinking of starting something new and we hope to grow this exponentially throughout the coming years.

Interested in reviewing for us? Get in touch with me. steve@fidgetstick.com

Want your company/activities reviewed. Don't delay, get in touch with me today and we'll arrange one of our team to come and see what your business is all about. 

CASE STUDY: G2 Outdoor

Wow. It's a wonder these guys can get any work done. Well, when I say work, it becomes all to clear what work means when you watch the G2 guys comical video titled "hard day at the office" (scroll down to the bottom of the page aswell to see the video). Fitting in a spot of kayaking instruction, white water rafting, ski touring or canyoning must be difficult, when you take one look at their company website.

Like little ducks all in a row, are the icon links through to their Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Trip Advisor, their blog and I know they also have a Fidgetstick/ profile page as well. Geez, I'm beat just typing those out, let alone keeping them upto date with compelling and relevant content. So do they?

Well, let's find out. But just before we do, another thing to mention is that these guys seem to appreciate the importance of a good web presence in the first place. Their site is well designed and totally makes use of many of the latest web 2.0 features that many more still refuse to acknowledge or choose to ignore. Straight away, without any additional work, they have a site that is nice to use.

Whilst the About us section indicates that the activity instructors at G2 are extremely experienced - over 15 years, the site seems to be fairly new. When doing a link:search on google, as well as quite a few keyword searches that I thought should be relevant to them, the site didn't quite perform as expected. One of the areas I would suggest concentrating on, is their external link building (this'll help a tiny bit) and SEO. I know that most activity centres rely heavily on word of mouth and referrals for new business and repeat business from existing customers, but the importance of SEO in an ever more competitive industry should not be underestimated.

It maybe that SEO and link building is just not as damn interesting as social media activity, at the moment any way. And so we begin to delve a little further into G2's social network. Straight away, you can see that photographic and video media plays a big role in content generation, and allows them to cross channels quite easily using the same media asset base. As I talked about in an earlier case study, this requires careful balancing and ensuring that the content is targeted and relevant to the types of users you may find on these different platform.

I love to see people who are fortunate enough to work in a job they love (in a job I'd love!) and share their experiences with others - especially those who dream of jacking in their 9-5 and getting outdoors. There's so much to do and see and so many adventures to have that means finding angles and topics to generate content from is endless. These guys recognise that and are not wasting the opportunity.

A quick glance at their social network pages and you can see exactly what it takes to get these things up and running. Flickr - some stunning adventure sports photos taken in the glorious scottish highlands (which happens to be one of my favourite places in the world, especially for canyoning!); youtube videos, many with over 1000 views; over 1000 Twitter followers; a struggling Facebook Fan page with 60 followers; a Digg page which is reminiscent of the Marie Celeste and some great reviews on TripAdvisor.

My advice; use Flickr for Photos, Youtube for Videos. Use Twitter like crazy to capture your thoughts. If your thoughts are interesting enough to warrant conversation, then Blog. Use this content to integrate into containers that support integration, such as Facebook (for mass market exposure) and (shameless plug) Fidgetstick/ (for targeted high conversion exposure). Let others Digg and Stumbleupon you. My two pence worth.

I would be interested to hook up with these guys and do a review of their activities for the Reviews section on Fidgetstick/, so if your up for it G2, drop me a note. If anyone else has been to G2, well, there's a million places you could tell us about it, but why not drop me a comment on my blog or against the G2 listing in the Fidgetstick/ Directory, let us know what you thought.


Find more videos like this on Fidgetstick/ adventure sport directory - community - shop - UK