Strava, a provider of an online service that tracks and gives in-depth feedback and analytics for GPS-tracked exercise, announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in its first round of fundraising.

The service itself is device agnostic — users download data from any application that tracks movement through a GPS function and upload it to the site. That information can come from actual GPS devices, like Garmin, or from any of the applications for the iPhone and phones running on Google’s Android mobile operating system. Strava also expects to release an iPhone application that will streamline the uploading process soon.

After that, the service gets a whole lot more technical than typical GPS-assisted applications that track exercise. It includes vertical distance traveled, like when riding up a hill, and more specific information about speed and power generated. The idea is to turn typical runs and cycling circuits into a type of meta-competition where users post their statistics online and “race” other Strava users.

“Nike+ and other apps are really doing a great job of showing what’s possible when you start collecting the data,” said Michael Horvath, CEO of Strava. “What we’re doing is trying to give an experience that’s really social fitness, that focuses on comparing and competing.”

Other applications, like the Nike+ iPhone application, can already synchronize run information with social networks online. But Strava’s highly technical tracking will hopefully attract the more hardcore crowd that cycle or run more often than your typical GPS exercise application user, Horvath said. The idea came after Horvath and his co-founder graduated from college — both missed competing regularly with their crew team and wanted to create an online service that mimicked the experience.

Strava in its current form caters to cyclists, but part of the funding will go toward developing a similar site and community for runners. The cycling community has attracted 10,000 users thus far and is growing by around 20 percent each month, Harvoth said. The rest of the funding is geared toward sales and marketing, which also includes recruiting local cycling clubs to help spread the word and sign up teams for online competitions.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based company was founded in 2009. This round of funding was led by Sigma Partners.

[Photo: musumemiyuki]

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