Former lawyer Sohail Rashid is on a mission to get his Brawn app spoken alongside the likes of Strava, Peloton and Zwift.
While cyclists and runners have been tracking their performances digitally for years the same has not been true for people who lift weights.
Serial entrepreneur Sohail Rashid, now 37, identified the problem after taking up powerlifting relatively late in life at the age of 30 – and set about making up for lost time.
“I started my career as a lawyer before spending 12 years running my own property and data businesses in PropTech and financial services,” he recalls.
“I started powerlifting as a hobby seven years ago and immediately fell in love with the sport and everything that it offers.
“It went from there. I began competing, became British champion, represented Team GB at the Europeans and Worlds.”
The idea for Brawn came about after recognising a gap in the market.
“All other areas of consumer fitness, like running, swimming and cycling, benefit from a digital community but strength training doesn’t, whether it’s in the gym or at home,” he says. “That was the opportunity for Brawn.
“By launching Brawn I was able to combine my personal and professional passions. It’s the Strava for strength training.
“It’s a digital community for anyone who likes lifting weights, at any level.
“We provide the ability for people to turn lifting into a connected experience so users can gamify what they do, connect with other lifters and work towards common goals.”
Explaining how it works Rashid says: “You go into a gym and you have your lifting session. The in-gym Brawn screen will show you what others in that gym are lifting and what the community goal for the members is.
“It enables you to share your numbers with other members so you can see how your numbers compare.
“It’s you versus you while also working towards a common goal. It helps with motivation, mental fatigue and enables you to compete with others virtually, anytime.”
The product is a great retention and community tool for gyms and more than 200 have already signed up.
“We’ve got some of the biggest names signed up, budget gyms, independent gyms, boutique gyms and we’re fast-growing because there’s a huge gap in the market,” says Rashid.
He launched Brawn in 2020 and used the technology to hold virtual events for the powerlifting community during the pandemic.
“We collaborated with the International Powerlifting Federation, which has over 2.2m members worldwide, and Gymshark,” he recalls.
“We hosted the world’s largest virtual event which had over 15,000 participants from over 20 different countries and we went on to break a ton of records in 2020 and 2021.”
The Leeds-based tech start-up secured £1.2m in early-stage investment in 2021.
Investors include leading consumer-focused investment and innovation firm True along with a group of strategic private investors, including Nick Mitchell of Ultimate Performance.
Brawn has grown to 20 staff and Rashid says further growth is planned.
“We want to get to 400 gyms in the UK and we’re getting our plans in place to expand into the US in 2023,” he says.