Could Konkura.com conquer?

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A site launched by an Oxford engineering alumnus brings social networking into the gym.

On konkura.com, users lay down a sporting challenge. Anyone can then complete the challenge and add their name and score to the leaderboard. The site, launched in July, is free to use.

Challenges range from athletics to football to weightlifting. They include ‘The Arm Destroyer’ and the ‘Headstand’ challenge, where users attempt to stand on their head for the longest time. In addition a fitness guru, Steve Hoyles who has a degree in Sports Science from Swansea, creates expert challenges.

The site’s founder, Dr Phil Worthington, rowed for University College in the 1990s during his engineering degree. After graduating, he found he missed the competitive aspect of being part of a team.

“I was trying to keep fit, but didn’t have much motivation. When you’re in a rowing squad, you compete among yourselves to be the best,” said Worthington. To combat his lonely training, he set up konkura.com.

Though based in the UK, the site has proved popular in the notoriously fitness-obsessed area of California. Worthington suggested college sports teams might use the site to keep track of vacation training programs.

Olympians are also getting involved with the site. GB rowers Andy Hodge and Pete Reed launched a challenge to put as many t-shirts on in a minute as possible, in aid of the Roy Castle lung cancer foundation. “It can bring together a disparate group of people, such as charity marathon runners, and they can become part of a community,” says Worthington.

Chris Apps, a former captain of New College Boat Club, said the site seemed like it would be entertaining. “I wouldn’t use it for rowing, simply because I don’t think it would add anything.

“I might use it in my own time though. Not for motivation but just because some of the challenges look pretty fun – I’m definitely going to do the 300 challenge.”

The 300 challenge is reputedly part of the training regime actors in the film 300 underwent, inspiring the crowning of challenge winners ‘the King of Sparta’. The challenge involves exercises such as dead-lifts and floor-wipers.

Worthington thinks the Said Business School and its associated societies have brought a much more entrepreneurial atmosphere to Oxford. One Oxford-based competition, Idea Idol, offers £10,000 for the best new business idea. Worthington largely self-funded konkura’s launch, supplemented by some venture capital.

Konkura is now looking for second stage funding. According to Worthington:“We won’t be as big as Facebook, but we want a few million users.”

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