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AccuFit Founder Logan Koshenka is Making Personalized Workouts Free for Everybodyby@natasha
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1,216 reads

AccuFit Founder Logan Koshenka is Making Personalized Workouts Free for Everybody

by Natasha NelJanuary 7th, 2020
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Logan Koshenka is a software engineer who founded AccuFit, a custom workout app. He recently rolled out an update that adds several features that users have been requesting, along with a new and improved design. The app has experienced a surprising amount of growth, and I’m curious to see how they all react to this recent update. He is working on rolling out an Android version while continuing to tweak the iOS app. The number of available health and fitness apps in the Google Play store amounted to 37,143.

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Logan Koshenka is a software engineer who graduated from Ohio University in 2018 and founded AccuFit, a custom workout app.

He’s also twenty-five years old, a former personal trainer, and a Hacker Noon 2.0 investor.

Having recently deployed the 3.0 version of his own app, we interviewed him for his insights on software development, startup ideation, prioritisation, roadmapping, AI, and more.

Logan, thanks for the opportunity to interview you. And hey, congrats on the recent growth and latest product update on AccuFit. For those unfamiliar with the app, can you share its origin story and give us an update on where it’s now?

Thanks so much! The idea for AccuFit came from when I was working as a personal trainer. I would always send my friends and family workouts for whatever situation they were in. I would get texts like, “Hey I need a quick cardio / leg workout that I can do at home with no equipment.” It became very normal to receive these sorts of requests, and it got to the point where I was sending about 10 a day.

I thought there was a large opportunity for a fitness app that is simple, straight-forward, one that just says, “What’s your situation?” and immediately gives you a custom workout.

A couple years later, I taught myself how to code and the idea never left. The first version launched in July of 2019 and I decided to make the app 100% free with an update that was released about a month later. The app has experienced a surprising amount of growth, and I just rolled out an update that adds several features that users have been requesting, along with a new and improved design. So I’m really excited about what the future holds.

What’s next on the product roadmap for AccuFit?

I’ve been talking to users and getting a lot of feedback, so I’m curious to see how they all react to this recent update. Moving forward, I am working on rolling out an Android version while continuing to tweak the iOS app.

What kind of product management and prioritization process/es do you personally prefer and utilize?

I'm a big fan of the Kano Model and typically do my own version of that. I’ve also found a lot of value with the game-style formats, like “Buy a Feature” and “Prune the Product Tree.” In fact, with this recent update, a lot of the new feature ideas were born out of a modified version of the “Buy a Feature” game. I think it’s important to mix things up and to not depend on just one approach, so I try my best to do that.

During the first quarter of 2019, the number of available health and fitness apps in the Google Play store amounted to 37,143. How do you differentiate AccuFit in such a competitive space?

At first glance, it’s easy to think, “This is such a crowded space. There’s so much competition.” I think it says a lot about the demand for health and fitness products though. It’s something people want, and I believe that if you build a great product then you can fight through the noise. When this idea began forming for me, around 2015, there were plenty of fitness apps out then, too.

A few things stand out about AccuFit. The biggest one is that the app is 100% free.

I believe that great workouts should be free, and the majority of fitness apps are charging at least $8 per month, with many being more than $20 per month. Another differentiator is that AccuFit has a great variety of rep schemes, exercises, and methods. What I mean by that is that you won’t see the “3 sets of 10 for everyone” one-size-fits-all approach.

The workouts are custom made for your goal, where you work out, your fitness level, and the muscle group(s) selected. Then, depending on the difficulty, your workouts will incorporate things like going 4 seconds on the eccentric (down) motion, drop sets, 30-second max rep intervals, 21 method, and more.

Simply put, my personal training clients received great results and enjoyed these kinds of workouts - because of the constant variety - so I incorporated them into the app.

What’s your take on the role of much-hyped but only somewhat-adopted tech (like AI) in app development, particularly in so far as user personalization is concerned?

AI is exciting. We’re already experiencing the user personalization aspect in a lot of products and, when done correctly, it gives them a massive advantage.

I think it’s important as an entrepreneur / software engineer to be ahead of the curve on AI. It’s obviously the future, so you don’t want to fall behind.

I've been looking into ways to incorporate Machine Learning into AccuFit to better serve our users and that’s something that will probably happen in 2020. In fitness especially, user personalization is very important.

Everyone’s bodies, goals, and fitness journeys are different, so to be able to cater specific workouts or meal plans to someone based on their needs is huge. It’s exciting to think that user personalization through AI will be the new normal moving forward.

Where and when did you learn to code, and what initially interested you in software development?

I've been passionate about building things my entire life. I kept an “invention notebook” as a child, created and later sold a Wordpress blog when I was 15, but I taught myself how to code after a failed startup. I was 19 and trying to recruit developers to join me.

I hated the idea that I was depending on other people for my success. I just remember thinking, “If I learn how to code, there will be nothing in my way.”

I wanted to have an idea and be capable of building it by myself. As far as the method, I learned through online courses. In the beginning, it’s tough and there is definitely a learning curve. After getting a solid foundation, I think the fastest way to learn is to just start building whatever ideas you have. Break things. Fix them. Google the issues you run into. Watch tutorials. That’s what worked best for me.

In software development, there’s such a wide variety in the background developers can have.  Some graduate with a CS degree, others come from a code school background, while some are completely self-taught...  Have you found in your experience that any one pathway to a development career is more beneficial/preferred than others?

I don’t want to say that one way is better than the next because everyone has their own journey. That being said, I do take pride in the fact that I came from a business background because it definitely helps when I’m building something.

Understanding the big picture and that the end goal is a product that somehow makes money, thinking about the business side as you incorporate different features, these sorts of things have helped me a ton.

Like I said, I don’t think one way is necessarily better than the other but there is something very valuable about having a unique perspective when building a product. The real excitement is when you have a diverse team with all sorts of backgrounds. That can be borderline magical.  

AccuFit isn’t the first app you’ve developed. What did you learn from the Skyway experiment during your time at Ohio University?

I was so naive! I was still pretty early into learning how to code, and I thought I had a cool concept for Skyway (a location-based chat / social app). But here I was, a broke college kid trying to build a two-sided market by himself! I learned so much from that experience in terms of both coding and building a business. More than anything else, I was just addicted to building something, whatever it was. One of my favorite quotes is “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”

I’m slowly learning that a large part of becoming successful at something is just showing up and putting in your reps. You learn more and more along the way from each experience, and I figure if I keep showing up, keeping putting in my reps, then eventually I’ll be pretty good at this. I’ve learned that it’s best to be patient and play the long-term game. 

Do you have a mentor, entrepreneurial or otherwise?

Two people come to mind, and although I may not connect with them as much as I probably should, I know that they are always available to help me out when I need it. The first is Paul Benedict, an entrepreneurship professor at Ohio University. Ironically, I wasn’t even one of Paul’s students but we met while I was building Skyway. He was, and continues to be, incredibly helpful and it’s obvious he loves what he does. He is one of the many reasons why Ohio University is such a special place. The other was actually my high school football coach and later became more of a friend / mentor, Jose Davis.

Jose taught me the value of discipline and preparation, and my work ethic wouldn’t even be close to the level it is now without him.

A founder I used to know used to say “the best opportunities are the ones closest to you.” I reckon you’d agree with that sentiment, given your personal passion for fitness. What other advice would you give to engineers looking for their first app idea?

I totally agree. Naturally, we all have areas we are passionate about which eventually causes us to be knowledgeable in that area. Fitness has always been a passion of mine, and after creating products in categories where I wasn’t very knowledgeable, the process of building AccuFit almost felt like I had a head start. There are so many tiny details that I feel confident about with AccuFit because I have been obsessed with fitness for the past 12+ years. Those same tiny details are very hard to navigate when you don’t understand the market as well. So, yes:

it’s a great idea to start with your interests, hobbies, passions, etc. whether you are building an app, a blog, or a product to sell because a) you already understand the market and b) you love it enough to get through the really tough challenges. As far as other advice when developing your first app, I would say to keep it simple. More doesn’t always mean better. Try to create a product that does one or two things extremely well, then you can move forward from there. 

What are some of the best ways for new entrepreneurs and developers to become involved in relevant and beneficial communities?

There are several! Today we are lucky enough to live in an era where you can create and join communities online. I would say to look for facebook groups, local meetups, or other online communities to join and go from there. There is also something to be said about doing your best work and making it as public as possible, because similar people tend to find you that way. I met several like-minded people like this in college after the local newspaper published an article about my app.

You could start writing and sharing your own original content on every social channel you can, right now. You’d be surprised at how many people come to you through content marketing.

Also, college campuses typically have groups and organizations for entrepreneurship and coding, and that’s another great way (especially at that point in your life because it’s exciting to meet like-minded people your age). If all else fails, create your own event or group!

In your experience and/or opinion, what are the key mistakes founders make in the earliest stages of their business?

Rushing to build something people don’t want just because you’re in love with the idea.

I know this because I did it several times! The truth is that ideas change. When you first get an idea for a product or service and it feels complete, you should assume that it is about 30% of what it will evolve into. Get started immediately, yes, but talk to potential users / customers and find out what people want before you invest time and money into building it.

Draw mockups of every possible version that could exist. Leave no stone unturned, and then when you have enough data (and in turn, way more confidence), go on 100% offense-mode, and build.

With AccuFit, this translates to an obsession with figuring out how to over-deliver for our users, analyzing data, and only implementing the features and/or changes that line up with our user-centric mission. It’s a challenging, never-ending process because contexts and priorities are constantly changing - but it’s definitely a the number one lesson I learned the hard way.