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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

App Lets Exercisers Get Their Music and Movement in Sync

As a runner, Will Turner cares about pace.

As a musician, he cares about tempo.

And as a businessman, he cares about scale.

Turner, CEO of Pacing Technologies LLC, offers patented software that lets people run, walk or exercise to the beat of their favorite songs. Music can be a powerful motivator during exercise, said Turner, 41.

With the PaceDJ product, a user simply chooses the beats per minute he wants. The software scours the song files in his smartphone or iPod Touch, and then delivers material that closely matches that pace. It’s probably going to be music that the listener likes as the songs are already on the phone.

A user can specify the pace by ordering up a number — say, 140 beats per minute. If a listener doesn’t know the number intellectually but knows it in his or her gut, he or she can tap the smartphone screen 15 times to establish the rhythm.

No Chipmunk Effect

The business licensed third-party software that keeps the key of the song intact as the tempo increases. “You don’t get the chipmunk effect,” Turner said, referring to the phenomenon that when a song plays faster, the key of the music rises.

Pacing Technologies has three patents of its own. Its first, “System and method for pacing repetitive motion activities,” was filed in 2005 and awarded in 2010. Washington, D.C.-based Blank Rome LLP helped the company get its patents.

So far, Turner is the company’s only employee, though he has three U.S.-based software developers on contract. Turner’s friends and family — as well as the entrepreneur himself — have invested six figures in the business so far.

Pacing Technologies has revenue, though Turner declined to give specifics. He said the company experienced 170 percent growth between 2012 and 2013. It was a year, Turner said, when the business launched a free version of the app, which led to many installations; many customers then upgraded to the paid version. The upward trajectory has continued. Revenue grew 25 percent between the first half of 2013 and the first half of 2014.

At a coffeehouse in North Park, near Turner’s home office, the entrepreneur said that one of his major goals now is to find the right partnership, to give the business some more scale. He is pursuing work with two music-streaming services, and looking beyond the world of entertainment. Turner’s ideal partner might be a sporting apparel company, or it might be an insurance company. After all, insurance companies are interested in devices that track a client’s exercise habits, and sometimes offer discounts to customers who provide evidence of exercise. In a minor coup for the one-man business, Turner was successful in recently meeting the chief executive of Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI).

Pacing Technologies LLC blends two of Turner’s avocations. He is a musician and a runner.

Getting Started

Turner has played violin since he was a child, and he also enjoys playing the guitar. He majored in music and history at the University of Virginia, where he participated in middle-distance running events such as the 1000 meter. Turner said he got the idea for Pacing Technologies while he was at the starting line of the 2003 Chicago Marathon.

He received a master’s degree in international affairs from the University of California, San Diego, and in his days before self-employment, worked for Sony Electronics Inc. in Rancho Bernardo.

Since going out on his own, Turner said he has benefited from local groups such as Connect’s Springboard program and the San Diego Sport Innovators program.

Turner’s product might remind readers of another San Diego-born service, Rock My Run, a product of downtown-based Rock My World Inc., run by Adam Riggs-Zeigen. There are some differences. Rock My World offers music mixes put together by DJs — not taken from the user’s mobile phone. Both offer free and paid services. However, Rock My Run has a recurring subscription fee. People pay Turner once for his PaceDJ app. It might be something to reconsider, Turner said, because it would be a good to get a recurring revenue stream.

Turner also said that PaceDJ is just one implementation of his patent.

Indeed, the document on file at the patent office lists other uses, such as setting the pace for workers on the factory floor.

Sitting with his empty coffee cup at a patio table just off 30th Street, with the morning giving way to noon, Turner cast his mind forward. “There are lots of things on our roadmap,” he said.


CEO: Will Turner

Revenue: Undisclosed

No. of local employees: One

Investors: Friends and family

Headquarters: North Park

Year founded: 2006

What makes the company innovative: Pacing Technologies holds three patents related to its service, which delivers music to match the pace of a person’s exercise routine


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