Boris Pourreau, co-founder of Running Heroes, talks about getting people to run for their lives, exercise for their health and earn rewards.

The innovative French startup, Running Heroes, is extending its large community to the UK, bringing an engaging fusion of a healthy lifestyle for people and impact advertising for major companies. The company encourages runners to become Running Heroes by connecting their running apps. They can then earn points with their runs to redeem great offers, bringing a creative solution to help fight a sedentary lifestyle and its many health hazards. From participating in running challenges to win a pair of running shoes from Nike or GPS sports watches from Polar, to earning points to redeem at Adidas’s or SKINS’ e-shops, runners are met with enticing rewards to keep them running for a healthier life.

Founded in March 2014, by young French entrepreneurs Boris Pourreau, 29, with an educational background in sports and commerce, and engineer, Jean-Charles Touzalin, 27. We catch up with Boris to find out more.

We came up with the idea when I was eating at McDonald’s in America and realised how nice it was to be able to Super Size it without the worry of gaining weight. I then realized how everyone should be as lucky as me. Kidding, of course. I was working at ASO on the Paris Marathon. I was inspired by the how much joy the runners found in completing the grueling event and also how supportive the spectators were.

The biggest challenge is... finding a balance between having too much fun and being overworked, both are extremes that cause us to lose focus on the mission. As a small company, we are like a tight knit family, like a bunch of brothers and sisters getting in to all sorts of shenanigans. However, losing track of time amidst all the fun we’re having is easy to do. There is a time to work and then there is a time to grind for the people that we are attempting to motivate to become healthier, happier people.

The average day is spent... dealing with emergencies, putting out fires, and patching up holes on this ship... Well, not literally, but it is a startup. It can feel like we are on ship, rocking and swaying in the ocean, but it’s what we love to do. We must navigate and overcome choppy seas for Running Heroes to be the deeply impactful organisation that we know it has the potential to be.

The team consists of... thirty dedicated and passionate people, each with different skills and personalities. Even though managing so many different personalities might make me go bald in the future, I would not have it any other way. Each team member, with his or her vastly different skills and high levels of passion, not only fit within the company culture, but instead each adds to the very make up of the culture.

My favourite quote... “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” - Bill Bowerman.

This pretty much sums up what we’re about. We believe anyone can practise sport and be an athlete. We want to show people that the rewards for practising sport extend far beyond the discounts we offer through our partners. It is about being part of a community, feeling good, and looking good... Oh, may be not the last one.

I am where I am today because of... a riverboat gambling trip I took about ten years ago, the time I slayed a dragon to save a princess, and the buried treasure I found while sailing the seven seas. Okay, literally none of that happened, but it makes for a better story. In all seriousness, I am where I am today because of the values sport taught me. Sport has had such a deep impact on my life that I want others to be able to experience the feeling, but do so in their own unique way.

I am who I am because of... the steamboat captain of the gambling ship, the king that hired me to slay the dragon, and first mate on the boat that sailed the seven seas... Oh, that’s right. Those things never happened. Dang. My parents, my grandparents, and my brother were, and have been, instrumental in all of my successes. I would not be here today without their guidance and support.

The best advice I've been given... Don’t look back, look forward. I have made mistakes, make them now, and will continue to make them in the future. However, I do not dwell on them because they have benefited me. By looking forward, I have learned from each mistake, grown from them, and become a stronger leader and better person as a result. Plus, as result of this mindset, my dream of one day owning my lemonade stand lives on. Perhaps one day, sigh.

In five years I’d like to be... as passionate and happy as I am today and just as young. Is that possible? May be we will have the technology to make that happen in five years.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... is that they have seen this 100 times before, which is amazing in this “internet of things,” hyper-connected world in which we live. With that said, having a business online means you can never rest because the evolution of technology isn’t exactly slowing down for anyone. If you think about it, it’s like being in Las Vegas everyday, what with the live shows, bright, shiny lights, gambling, and opportunities to get in fun trouble. The only thing missing is the buffets, the delicious, excessive buffets.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... hiring people too fast. It taught us how critical the process of recruiting employees is to our success. In fact, we are not looking to recruit employees, but instead we are looking to find more people that fit with the family, who have the same goal and drive that we do, but that can also bring something unique to the table. Mistakes happen, but we learn, grow, and become stronger as a unit.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... is each and every new day! We have created a platform through which we reward people for their hard work everyday. Exercise is not fun for many, but offering them benefits for their hard work, which includes encouragement and discounts, makes it fun for them. It is fulfilling to know that we can impact so many lives in a positive way. And may be, just may be, we will all get to take that river boat gambling trip together... and save a princess... and find buried treasure. May be.

March 2016