trundl App: A Founder's Story
How rehab and wonky hips moulded my business idea
T-Bar sandals with a non-slip sole
When my brother and I were little, my parents believed that, armed with a packed lunch and a flask, fresh air and a trek up the side of a mountain were the best tonic for us little ones. I have them to thank for my life-long love of the outdoors.
I always marvel that back in the day, somehow, I managed to scale some of these mountains in a pair of Startrite T-bar shoes – it must be the equivalent these days of people you see up in the hills in their flip flops!
Little did I know back then that I was born with something called hip dysplasia which was to have a big part to play in the life of trundl many years later.
A family flair for business and the seed of trundl is sown…
Not only did my parents instil that love of the outdoors, I developed a passion for business from my entrepreneurial dad. I don’t have a classic “rags to riches” story. My dad had done that in the previous decades, the boy who left school at 16 with few exams set up his business with a small loan and made a big success. Over the years both he and my Mum taught me to work hard for everything I wanted in life, that nothing comes for free, and never to take anything for granted. Lessons I have kept with me through all of my endeavours.
I started my first business at 25, my second in my late 30s and it was then that I thought of the idea of what I called Sporty Friends. That’s almost 20 years ago now and the idea of marrying sport with the motivation of charity giving and bringing people together as a community never left me. Every year I renewed the domain name for sportyfriends.co.uk, believing one day my dream would come to fruition.
Don’t look back in anger
In 2018, life was rolling along nicely. I’d sold my second business. Not for a fortune but enough to allow me to take some time off. I never did get married, I don’t have children, although none of this was planned. I always thought that I would follow in my mum’s footsteps and be a great parent one day. So, I started to think about leaving a legacy – I couldn’t get to my death bed and not be proud of something I had done.
It’s funny how things can change direction (literally) overnight. One morning, I woke up and had lost most of the feeling in my thumb and some of my arm. No previous incidences, it was literally that rapid. Fast forward to a month later and I was diagnosed with a compressed spinal cord and was in hospital having the disc fused in my neck.
Going from healthy to rehab so quickly was a strange thing to get my head around but my surgeon was, like me, a very positive chap and we set to, making a good job of the op (more him than me to be fair!) and my recovery.
Rehab, those wonky hips and the fore-runner of trundl
The first few weeks I could only lift the equivalent of a small saucepan pain-free, but my legs worked well enough, nothing wrong with them so, even though the drugs made me very dizzy, within the space of the first couple of days and holding onto my dad’s arm I could do 500 meters and then a kilometre and so on. And it was fantastic (and definitely therapeutic) to be out in the fresh air again. Over the weeks the goal was to do a simple 5km walk and then a 5k run at Park Run (the first I’d ever done). It was brilliant, I did it! I was extremely proud of myself.
But fast forward to the week before COVID and that lifelong wobbly walk of mine was diagnosed as hip dysplasia. I thought I’d pulled a muscle, but with my thigh bones not fitting properly in my hip sockets, it did explain why I’d never managed a sexy super model swagger in my teens. By this time jogging was out of the question and more disappointingly, I also found getting up the side of those lovely hills was not as easy as it used to be.
At this point, I started to think again about marrying charity-giving with sport and reigniting my plans for Sporty Friends. It was then that I had the good fortune of meeting my business partner, Tess. She helped me to see the benefit that I (and those who joined me) could get from combining exercise with the motivation of giving back to charity. The more common approach of being first over the line, continuously battling to beat times, distances or other people, is not an attractive one for those like me who can’t or might not want to make competitive fitness achievements their only goal. We realised we had the chance to create something very special.
Small steps with trundl can make giant strides for charity
Fast forward nearly 15 months and Sporty Friends has become trundl. A unique, non-competitive membership initiative that is powered via our app, the trundl-ometer as we like to call it, that motivates people to get active differently by setting a community goal. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you go; you know that you are helping us to give back to some amazing outdoor-aligned charities.
Our membership fee is designed to give everybody the opportunity to belong to a cheerful community of like-minded people who want to be active and do some good at the same time. And all for a heck of lot less than the price of an unused gym membership. In fact, for founding trundlers who help us to test the app and give their advice and feedback, it is just £3.99 a month to join in.
And the best bit is that you do the going and we do the giving. Why? Because that’s the sole purpose of trundl. Our business is designed from the outset to give income back to the charities and by setting this example as a small start-up, we leverage our good will to prompt more donations from some of our brand partners also.
Our ultimate goal will be to partner with some of the best outdoor UK brands who, by pledging additional donations to our charities, will increase the motivation to get active outdoors. They will also give extra incentive and reward to our lovely trundlrs in the form of offers and in time to come, prizes. That way there is a win win win for everybody……and we call this GO GIVE GET.
So why trundl?
- We can be empowered to say we are looking after our health
- We can be proud to say we help our charities to do amazing work for the environment, nature and for people who need to be out in the fresh air the most
- We can be happy to belong to a community and ecosystem of people, trundlrs, brands, charities that are a force for good.
I know that the trundl of tomorrow will be very different to how it looks now, at launch. But as giving to charity has been designed into its very heart and core, I know too that trundl will be helping people exercise their kindness long into the future, wonky hips and all.
Hil Mines, Founder