Dennis Cottreau

Dennis Cottreau

If the guys behind Bereda Training are as good at startups as they are at sports, the Halifax company will definitely be one to watch.

A recent addition to the hive of startups at Volta Labs, Bereda Training has developed an online training platform that automates the training plans that coaches prepare for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc.). Its co-founders know a thing or two about these athletic endeavours. CEO Dennis Cottreau was a semi-professional cyclist for two years and CTO Blake Pucsek was the captain of the Harvard University rowing team.

Through their athletic careers, they grew frustrated with the inflexibility of training platforms, so they decided to develop their own.

“A training plan built well has patterns and progression built into it,” said Cottreau in an interview. “There are all these little rules and little patterns that describe ways of training. If we mathematically model it, then we can give the user the ability to make some sweeping edits very quickly.”

What Bereda does is greatly reduce the time it takes for coaches or self-coached athletes to customize the training schedule over the course of a year. It allows them to build highly customized training strategies that can take into account hectic schedules and things like injuries or holidays.

“Going fast takes great coaching, and great coaching is rooted in a solid plan,” said Pucsek in an email from Baltimore, where he is now based. “Once a plan has been formed then a coach’s job shifts toward synthesizing all of the information they’re able to read from their athletes and use that information to make further decisions on where they should be headed.”

Yarmouth-born Cottreau and Pucsek, a native of Victoria, B.C., did not know each other well before they decided to form a startup. What’s more, they didn’t know much about startups.

Two years ago, Cottreau was coaching cycling, and Pucsek had moved from rowing to triathlons, when they linked up through a common friend. They commiserated about the lack of decent platforms for training plans, and agreed to work together to build one that suits their needs.

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Earlier this year, Cottreau wandered into Volta Labs in Halifax, hoping to pick up legal advice about incorporating as a company. He began to learn about the startup community, and the mentoring helped Pucsek and him launch two versions of their product in rapid succession this past summer.

Cottreau – who presented at Volta’s DemoCamp on Tuesday night – said they now have dozens of clients and a few potential sales channels that offer potential. A few world-class coaches have reached out to the team, which led to phone discussions. Asked if the company is planning to raise funds, Cottreau merely said it’s something they’ve thought about.

It has been a steep learning curve and the two athletes-cum-entrepreneurs are looking forward to gaining more traction in the fall.

“I only learned what a lean startup was in March,” said Cottreau. “I learned more in two days at Volta than I had in two months doing Google searches. So I figured I should stick around.”

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