Redefining motivation and user retention in the fitness app landscape with Rowan Pereira (Sweatcoin)

Retention Podcast Acquisition


Sweatcoin is a unique step counter and activity tracker that rewards your steps with a digital currency. In this episode of the Subscription League podcast, we delve into Sweatcoin's fascinating features, remarkable growth trajectory, and the strategies behind its massive user acquisition.

Who could have imagined that walking could become a source of income? It may sound unbelievable, but Sweatcoin makes it possible. Back in 2015, Sweatcoin burst onto the scene with an impressive $6.3 million in funding. Since then, it has experienced exponential growth, boasting an astounding user base of over 120 million people worldwide.

So, how does Sweatcoin work? The app, available for free, tracks users' daily steps. For every 1,000 steps, users earn one Sweatcoin, which can be exchanged also for Bitcoin. 

Sweatcoin home page

But how does the app generate revenue to pay its users? In a nutshell, Sweatcoin has three primary revenue streams: advertising revenue, brand affiliations, and premium memberships.

As we delve deeper into Sweatcoin's business model, curiosity arises. That's precisely why we invited Rowan Pereira, the group product manager at Sweatcoin, for this episode. 

Listen to the full conversation to discover the app's effective growth strategies, user retention techniques, revenue generation channels, and the value of its premium subscription.


Growth strategy

Sweatcoin employs compounding and growth loops to optimize user acquisition. By designing product-led growth functionality that incentivizes referrals, the app encourages users to invite their friends within a specific time frame. This approach increases the velocity of the growth loop and enhances overall yield.

The referral program and influencer scheme are the secret sauce in Sweatcoin's growth strategy. Users are given a carrot on a stick to invite their friends, with rewards dangled for higher numbers of referrals. Those who invite 20 friends gain access to the influencer scheme, where they can redeem invites for monetary rewards. This strategy not only encourages user acquisition but also taps into the power of influencers without the need for external agencies.

User Retention

Sweatcoin is all about keeping users in the loop, understanding their habits, and firing up their motivations. They've cracked the code by categorizing motivations into three key groups:

  • extrinsic rewards

  • social motivations

  • and intrinsic health benefits

By providing financial incentives through Sweatcoin rewards, creating a social environment for users to compare and engage with others, and offering insights into personal health achievements, Sweatcoin aims to establish long-term habits and retain users.

To optimize user retention, Sweatcoin tracks daily active users and differentiates between recently activated users and engaged users. They keep a keen eye on their daily active users and distinguish between those who recently hopped on board and those who are fully engaged over a longer period. The engagement breakdown helps Sweatcoin analyze user behavior and tailor communications to move users up the ladder of engagement.

Revenue Generation

Sweatcoin generates revenue through various channels. The largest revenue stream is their rewarded ads experience, called Daily Rewards. Users can earn additional Sweatcoins by watching ads, and Sweatcoin has integrated with an ads mediation platform to optimize this revenue source.

Another revenue stream comes from brand affiliate deals in their marketplace. These deals provide commission fees based on cost-per-action (CPA) agreements, allowing users to spend their Sweatcoins on various offers from partner brands.

Sweatcoin also offers a premium membership option that allows users to double their earned Sweatcoins, up to a fair usage policy of 50,000 steps per day. This premium offering provides an additional revenue stream for the app.

The Value Proposition of Sweatcoin's Premium Subscription

Sweatcoin's premium monthly subscription, priced at $4.99, offers several compelling reasons to opt-in. 

Firstly, premium subscribers have the opportunity to earn additional cryptocurrency through the app, making it financially attractive for those interested in Web3 and accumulating Sweatcoin's token. 

Secondly, premium users enjoy extra utility and benefits, such as custom app icons, early access to exclusive offers, and other incentives that enhance the overall experience.

Creating Engaging User Experiences

Sweatcoin recognizes the importance of building a habit-forming app experience. They are currently working on a gamified feature that focuses on streaks and rewards. The first seven days of user onboarding are particularly crucial, and Sweatcoin aims to guide users through this period by encouraging boost usage and explaining the benefits. Celebrating milestones and successes during this initial period has proven effective in increasing day seven retention rates.

Balancing Acquisition and Retention

Sweatcoin faces the challenge of finding the right balance between user acquisition and long-term retention. While users are more likely to invite others to join during the first seven days of their experience, Sweatcoin recognizes the importance of nurturing long-standing habits. The company carefully weighs the potential trade.

Rowan Pereira Subscription League Episode

More about Rowan

Rowan Pereira is a dynamic growth-oriented professional with seven years of experience in product management. Currently serving as a Group Product Manager at Sweatcoin, she is fueled by a high-energy personality and a strong passion for promoting gender equity. Beyond her tech career, Rowan enjoys drawing portraits and seeks creative outlets whenever possible. 

Inspired by her father's tech background, she embarked on a similar path, finding fulfillment in making a positive impact. Notable achievements include spearheading an impartial campaign during the 2016 referendum and launching the UK's first regulated financial advice app, Multiply. 

In her current role, Rowan played a pivotal role in the unparalleled growth of Sweatcoin, acquiring 60 million new customers worldwide and topping the charts as the most downloaded health and fitness app globally.

Episode 26 Sneak Peek

On the rapid user-based growth

"One of the biggest levers that we had at Sweatcoin was our users themselves. Actually what we found ourselves doing was designing product-led growth functionality where we would optimize for referrals, incentivize referrals..."

On metrics to measure user habits

I think it's really important to always measure your success against the frequency at which your user experiences the problem, right? There's no use being too obsessive with monthly active users because, well, guess what? You don't think about your daily step count on a monthly basis

On retention

“Yeah, those are the things that we are trialing at the moment. It's interesting. I think one of the challenges we've faced with balancing retention against acquisition is that we know that people are most likely to invite during those first seven days because they're excited about the product and they want to tell their friends about it.”

On competing with bigger brands

“I actually don't like to see Strava, et cetera, as competitors. I think that they are really inspirational apps and they have some phenomenal functionality and really great ways to keep people engaged and motivated. But they are very much geared towards that inspirational, athletic type of user, and I think Sweatcoin is much more for everyone.”

Episode Topics at a Glance

  • Rowan's experience working with Multiply and Lingumi 

  • Overview of Sweatcoin and its growth strategy 

  • Reasons for habit formation 

  • Metrics for measuring user engagement and retention 

  • Focusing on early user experience and A/B testing for a growth engine 

  • The impact of premium upsells on retention 

  • Competing with bigger brands 

How to listen to Subscription League

Go to or subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 



Previous episodes

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#2: Babbel Live - How to create a success in a crowded market with Belen Caeiro

#3: Mojo - Strategies you should focus on for a successful subscription business with Jean Patry

#4: The Guardian - Growing the user base The Guardian way - with Jesse Wilkins

#5: Blinkist - Using transparency to increase your conversion rate with Eveline Moczko

#6: Rootd - How to bootstrap #1 health and fitness app with Ania Wysocka

#7: Luni - Subscription Marketing 101: tips to drive acquisition and retention with Adrien Miniatti 

#8: Uptime - How to build a successful user-first app strategy with Léa Samrani 

#9: GP Bullhound - What venture investors look for in subscription apps with Eric Crowley

#10: Phiture - How to optimize mobile app subscription with Andy Carvell

#11: Jodel - Shifting from ads to In-App Subscription-led revenue generation with Tim Schmitz

#12: BlueThrone - Product market fit, Subscription, and Other Secrets of Success by Idan Waller

#13: Aperture - Tips for Creating the Right Mindset for Business Growth by Hannah Parvaz

#14: MobileGroove - The Subscription Model - the state, benefits, and success tips by Peggy Anne Salz

#15: Appic - All about subscription app onboarding with Tobias Boerner

#16: Together Labs - Leveraging user research to maximize subscription app monetization with Jenny Pollock

#17: BlueThrone - Product market fit, Subscription, and Other Secrets of Success by Idan Waller

#18: Pollen VC - A guide to financing your user acquisition with Martin Macmillan 

#19: CoinState - Finding the sweet spot with the right subscription app monetization and pricing strategy with Vahe Baghdasaryan 

#20: PhotoRoom - How to grow a subscription app business and its user base globally by Olivier Lemarié

#21: App Masters - How to monetize your app: expert tips from Steve P. Young (App Masters)

#22: How Mimo builds an experimentation culture with Ekaterina Gamsriegler

#23: Applica - Framework for subscription optimization: tips from behavioral science expert Sviat Hnizdovskyi

#24: Papumba - Making a safe digital playground for kids with Gonzalo Rodriguez

#25: Transitioning to Digital: Insights from Michael Ribero of The Washington Post

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