One eyed bloke
I walk, always have. School and back was four miles a day, rain or shine, in clothes made mainly of polyester (oh, the sweaty 70s). Buses were too random, and in any case were full of sharp-elbowed, tough old ladies. So I walked everywhere, and liked it. It was just me and the road and the sky, and we became firm friends.
But I never got into counting steps, I’ve never been tempted to wear a Fitbit and I’m a bit wary of people who do. Hell, I don’t even measure my waistline, except by seeing which pair of jeans fits (the elasticated ones). So, why am I trying out a walking app called trundl?
The short answers are, because trundl is not your typical walking app and my friend Rachel thought I’d like it. And she, I believe, would rather nail jelly to a wall than persuade me into something competitive.
It’s also a sad fact of life in the suburbs – where I and more than half of us live – that, after a few years, our motivation to go out and walk around our all-too-familiar home patch can dwindle, especially if there are no nearby green spaces big enough to get satisfyingly lost in. So, I was kind of in the market for a kick in the backside.
Not that trundl ever kicks; it prefers to nudge. The app sets up a triangular relationship
between charities, businesses (‘brand partners’) and you, the individual trundlr. You pay a
monthly subscription – currently £3.99 – and trundlr commits to giving at least 10 percent of that to the charities. But that’s not the main deal: at the heart of the app are Community
trundls, in which all trundls completed within a period of about a week count towards a
specific distance goal. Reaching the goal triggers extra donations, often given by a business, for a specific charity (they rotate). You don’t have to sign up to a Community trundl; your trundls are automatically counted towards them when one is happening, which is often.
trundl describe their app experience as ‘Go, Give, Get.’ ‘Go’ means recording your walks—trundls—in the app. ‘Give’ means selecting your preferred charities from a list, currently just five. ‘Get’ means getting rewards, which consist of Badges, i.e. markers of your progress, and Offers in the form of discount codes from trundl’s brand partners. There is also News: summaries of past and future Community trundls.
I asked my twentysomething kids if they’d use trundl. They’re digital natives and have a
sharp appreciation of what they see as the true nature of most internet commerce: when
there’s no discernible product or the product is free, you’re the product – or your data is.
So, no surprise when they were sceptical. “What are you getting for your money? You can
count your steps or track your walks for free on any smartphone, and if you want to give
money to a charity, give it direct; they’ll get 100 percent plus Gift Aid instead of just 10
percent. The app is just serving you up on a plate as a niche market to businesses.”
OK, thanks lads. And go easy on the cynicism, it costs, y’know. I don’t doubt the app has a commercial logic behind it. But come on, if the offers work, if they give you discounts on
stuff you actually want, what’s happening is, your subscription is supporting a platform that
promotes a net flow of money through the app from businesses to charities. That’s good,
right? That’s different from direct giving, and maybe better.
I’m a realist, I hope; I know I’m the product and this ideal scenario is likely to be realised for only a fraction of users at any one time, but I’m not just the product; I’m a walker who
believes small acts of kindness help the world to turn – and why let the perfect be the
enemy of the good? Its a great idea to link walking & giving, and I hope trundl succeeds. As the app grows, more users will attract more brand partners and more offers, so the fraction will grow too.
Ideally, I’d like more ways for trundlrs to interact; you can share your trundls on completion
and add a comment, but I feel inclined to share only really big or particularly lovely ones. A
way for Community trundls to connect trundlrs in actual communities would be good.
trundl is aimed at an underserved demographic, one I’m happy to fall slap in the middle of:
those who walk for pleasure as much as health. I believe there’s no niche anyone could cram us all into. We power-walk seldom, amble often; we’re amiable rather than ambitious. And at the end of the day, we want to be tired out by our walking, not our walking app.
Editor’s note: trundl is available from your favourite App Store, check out the app here.