Profile
Sohail Rashid

Strength training is popular with gym goers, but there hasn’t been an easy way for the community to connect. The founder of the Brawn app tells Fit Tech about his plans to increase participation and enhance the powerlifting experience


How did it all start?
After university I went into law and ran a property legal firm for a few years. I then moved into technology and for 12+ years have been running tech and data businesses within the property and financial services sectors.

Why Brawn?
I started strength training when I was 30 – wanting something in my life away from work and family that I could be proud of. I fell in love with the sport and quickly learned that powerlifting gives you so much back.

The lifting community was very supportive and large but lacked a single point solution that could bring everybody together. My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports.

How did you turn the idea into a reality?
The global lockdowns created an opportunity and I felt it was the right timing for change – for me personally and for the sport. I'm not shy of hard work or scared of failure and if I believe in something I’ll give it 100 per cent and go all in.

I worked on Brawn around my full-time job and family – we have two young boys. This was tough and I barely had time for anything else, but knew it was one of those moments where I just had to make it happen.

The idea progressed to involve a small team and we went on to build a beta version in 2020. The initial plan was to test this with 200 UK powerlifters so that we could learn more about what they wanted from the app. We ended up filling the 200 spots in 48 hours and then quickly had a waiting list of 1,000+ lifters from all over the world. After securing investment in early 2021, we scaled the team and launched the mobile apps in May 2021.

Tell us about the user experience
Brawn helps lifters analyse training and competition data, connect with other lifters from across the world and compete in all kinds of ways, with fun challenges, as well as virtual and traditional competitions. The app is data rich; we have the most complete data set in powerlifting. If you've ever done a competition then your competition data and lifter profile is already there waiting for you to claim it!

How does it make powerlifting more accessible?
One of our key features is Virtual Events, which enables lifters to compete on a global level – we’re currently hosting the world's largest ever powerlifting event through the app. Lifters can participate via video submission from anywhere in the world and we already have 1,000+ people signed up.

This has attracted interest from countries where lifters wouldn't normally be able to compete internationally because they don't have the resources or means to do so. We’re seeing new lifters from places such as El Salvador, Bangladesh and Nauru going head to head with well known lifters from the UK and USA.

Tell us about your partnerships
Our partnership with the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and Eleiko allows us to connect with the largest powerlifting federation in the world. All parties share the vision to grow the sport and we believe Brawn can help to attract more grassroots participation in powerlifting.

Both organisations immediately recognised what Brawn was trying to achieve. We’re now hosting global IPF virtual events and we are very excited and proud to be working with such large stakeholders in the sport so soon in our journey with Brawn.

Where are your users located?
We only very recently launched the platform globally – prior to that we were operating in the UK only. We now have thousands of users from all over the world, but the majority of our audience is currently UK- and US-based.

What's the business model?
The app is free and it’s US$40 to participate in one of our virtual events.

Can health clubs get involved?
We’re already working with a number of independent gyms. Our ‘groups’ feature enables lifters to connect with other lifters at the same gym, so they can follow who's lifting what each week.

This is hugely valuable for gyms, as it helps to create and connect a community that shares a passion but wouldn't be able to connect otherwise, as they train at different times of the day and week.

For gym members it provides extra motivation, encouragement and purpose to training. Gyms, clubs and coaches play an important role in growing the sport and are an important partner for Brawn.

We believe 35 million people participate in barbell strength exercises weekly. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals and improve the experience of lifting.

More: www.brawn.co.uk

Sohail Rashid, founder of the Brawn app

Brawn helps users to analyse training and competition data Credit: restyler - shutterstock
Credit: Brawn
If a new user has ever competed in powerlifting, their profile and data will already be in the app Credit: Andy Gin/shutterstock
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Fit Tech
2023 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Sohail Rashid

Profile

Sohail Rashid


Strength training is popular with gym goers, but there hasn’t been an easy way for the community to connect. The founder of the Brawn app tells Fit Tech about his plans to increase participation and enhance the powerlifting experience

Brawn is an app that connects powerlifters around the world Jordan Jovkov/shutterstock
Brawn helps users to analyse training and competition data restyler - shutterstock
Brawn
If a new user has ever competed in powerlifting, their profile and data will already be in the app Andy Gin/shutterstock

How did it all start?
After university I went into law and ran a property legal firm for a few years. I then moved into technology and for 12+ years have been running tech and data businesses within the property and financial services sectors.

Why Brawn?
I started strength training when I was 30 – wanting something in my life away from work and family that I could be proud of. I fell in love with the sport and quickly learned that powerlifting gives you so much back.

The lifting community was very supportive and large but lacked a single point solution that could bring everybody together. My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports.

How did you turn the idea into a reality?
The global lockdowns created an opportunity and I felt it was the right timing for change – for me personally and for the sport. I'm not shy of hard work or scared of failure and if I believe in something I’ll give it 100 per cent and go all in.

I worked on Brawn around my full-time job and family – we have two young boys. This was tough and I barely had time for anything else, but knew it was one of those moments where I just had to make it happen.

The idea progressed to involve a small team and we went on to build a beta version in 2020. The initial plan was to test this with 200 UK powerlifters so that we could learn more about what they wanted from the app. We ended up filling the 200 spots in 48 hours and then quickly had a waiting list of 1,000+ lifters from all over the world. After securing investment in early 2021, we scaled the team and launched the mobile apps in May 2021.

Tell us about the user experience
Brawn helps lifters analyse training and competition data, connect with other lifters from across the world and compete in all kinds of ways, with fun challenges, as well as virtual and traditional competitions. The app is data rich; we have the most complete data set in powerlifting. If you've ever done a competition then your competition data and lifter profile is already there waiting for you to claim it!

How does it make powerlifting more accessible?
One of our key features is Virtual Events, which enables lifters to compete on a global level – we’re currently hosting the world's largest ever powerlifting event through the app. Lifters can participate via video submission from anywhere in the world and we already have 1,000+ people signed up.

This has attracted interest from countries where lifters wouldn't normally be able to compete internationally because they don't have the resources or means to do so. We’re seeing new lifters from places such as El Salvador, Bangladesh and Nauru going head to head with well known lifters from the UK and USA.

Tell us about your partnerships
Our partnership with the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and Eleiko allows us to connect with the largest powerlifting federation in the world. All parties share the vision to grow the sport and we believe Brawn can help to attract more grassroots participation in powerlifting.

Both organisations immediately recognised what Brawn was trying to achieve. We’re now hosting global IPF virtual events and we are very excited and proud to be working with such large stakeholders in the sport so soon in our journey with Brawn.

Where are your users located?
We only very recently launched the platform globally – prior to that we were operating in the UK only. We now have thousands of users from all over the world, but the majority of our audience is currently UK- and US-based.

What's the business model?
The app is free and it’s US$40 to participate in one of our virtual events.

Can health clubs get involved?
We’re already working with a number of independent gyms. Our ‘groups’ feature enables lifters to connect with other lifters at the same gym, so they can follow who's lifting what each week.

This is hugely valuable for gyms, as it helps to create and connect a community that shares a passion but wouldn't be able to connect otherwise, as they train at different times of the day and week.

For gym members it provides extra motivation, encouragement and purpose to training. Gyms, clubs and coaches play an important role in growing the sport and are an important partner for Brawn.

We believe 35 million people participate in barbell strength exercises weekly. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals and improve the experience of lifting.

More: www.brawn.co.uk

Sohail Rashid, founder of the Brawn app


Originally published in Fit Tech 2023 issue 1

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