It all started out with feeling lost and intimidated in the gym when Cara Davies thought about how nice it would be to see what other people like personal trainers are doing for their workouts. After launching Steppen, Jake Carp was instantly intrigued and got on board as a Co-Founder.
Prior to Steppen, Cara was studying Software Engineering and Psychology at Monash University which she temporarily put on hold to put more focus on the app. She has always loved sports and has been playing competitive basketball from the age of 8. Eventually, she gained more insight and exposure to fitness and health when she got her first job at a sports club running their program for people with disabilities. Later on, she became Afterpay’s first summer intern in 2021. These experiences proves to be invaluable to Cara as she dives deeper in running the business.
On the other hand, Jake has studied a Commerce Computer Science Degree at Melbourne University and worked as a financial consultant and as an equity analyst. He was originally in a path of pursuing investment banking with the goal of starting his own business one day. Little did he know that he would be presented with a different kind of opportunity but something that he is undeniably passionate about.
Together, these 22-year olds founded Steppen, a new-gen fitness app that will have you moving like never before. It’s the first free social fitness app which incorporates the best elements of current fitness apps, social apps and is built for the Gen Z community. Think TikTok meets Spotify but for fitness. Steppen allows users to create, discover, remix, select, complete and share workouts with your friends; follow celebrity and sport athlete’s workouts, whilst staying up to date with the latest fitness trends.
We talked with both co-founders and discussed about launching and starting a business at an early age, getting support, getting it up and running and securing investors such as Ant Eisen, the co-founder of Afterpay.
How did you come to start your business? Was there a particular spark or a significant turning point?
Cara: I had always gone to the gym and felt lost. I’d walk in and feel completely lost and intimidated. I would end up doing the exact workout every time. At the same time, I had a friend who was a Personal Trainer and thought to myself that I wish I could just see what workouts she was doing in the gym. There was nothing out there and I had a break from uni so I thought “okay let’s build this”.
Jake: I used to play footy when I was younger. As a tiny scrawny little kid, I got hit in the head too many times and the doctors said I couldn’t play anymore. Determined to get back out onto the field, I started going to the gym to put on some size. However, I quickly realized I had no idea what to do or how to gain muscle and it would have been great if I could follow the fitness routines of other footy players to help out.
Was it a conscious decision to have a co-founder?
Cara: No, I had been working on Steppen for a couple of months and already launched our socials. Jake saw the Steppen Instagram which I had posted on my personal and messaged me on WhatsApp, intrigued to find out more information. Up until that point, I had not really thought I needed a cofounder but as Jake and I chatted more about Steppen, I realized that he would be an asset to the team and it was a no brainer to get him onboard.
When we continued developing the app, we realized we had a big gap and were missing technical expertise. We were lucky to get Dave on board as our third cofounder.
How have you found the dynamic working with a co-founder?
Cara: Great! There are now three of us as co-founders, Jake, Dave and I. We all bring different things to the team and there is a clear breakdown of responsibilities. Jake is our operations and marketing guy; Dave is on the tech and I am on product and user relations. Between the three of us, we cover all aspects of the business. We trust one another and will always back one another up in our relevant specialized areas. We also have culture and can openly debate issues along with cracking out the banter.
What has surprised you about entrepreneurship?
Jake: How little we really know. Each week we look back as a team and feel that we had no idea what we were doing just the previous week. We are constantly needing to upskill to make Steppen better.
What makes your Steppen unique?
Jake: Steppen is the first free social fitness app which incorporates the best elements of current fitness apps, social apps and is built for the Gen Z community. Steppen itself is unique and there is nothing like us available. Most apps have a paywall up which really limits 15-24-year olds accessing them. Further apps lack the social experience which is normal for young users who consume TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat.
You have secured some early investment, congratulations, was this part of the initial plan to get funding?
Jake: We realized that we needed to hire a developer to make Steppen great so we went to raise $200,000 initially. We were surprised by the interest and were able to raise over $435K as a SAFE note. This is really exciting as it provides us with a 12-month runway to prove that Steppen is the real deal.
Running a startup is both exhilarating and exhausting, what keeps you going?
Jake: What we are creating is an inevitability. If it is not us, it will be someone else. Everyone who has said no, or said that this won’t work or it’s too hard drive us daily to go and prove them wrong. Additionally, we are solving a problem that we, as Gen Z members who are into fitness, have faced and struggled with, so if we can make the experience awesome for the many other people like us, we have succeeded. That drives us daily.
Who are the people around you that allow you to thrive and give support?
Simon Raik – Allen & Deepthi Kulkarni are our advisors
Family and friends – for listening to us chat about Steppen 24/7
What does your typical day look like?
Cara: There is no typical day for us. Everyday, we do whatever needs to be done. Right now, what needs to be done is constantly changing, so our days also change a lot. I could spend a day filming then the next chatting to users. It really depends on our current focus.
Do you have a business app you can’t live without?
Cara: Slack. Love it.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Cara: Canva, TikTok and Instagram