The strong trend in home fitness training, particularly in its internet-connected format, has continued to attract interest from investors in start-ups and other innovative companies that seem to deserve funding to sustain their growth. In the last few days alone, we got news on financial investments in three American companies: RPM Training Co. and two connected fitness specialists, Arena Innovation Corp. and Wahoo Fitness.
RPM, an offshoot from the CrossFit movement founded by Josh and Shane Rogers in 2012 in Santa Cruz, California, announced the closure of a new Series A funding round led by Partnership Capital Growth (PCG) and KC/LLC. Three other investors - Cambridge SPG, FitLab and Mana Ventures - also participated in the round.
Without disclosing the amount being raised, RPM said that it will allow the company to “more than double the size of its Northern California team, creating more than 30 jobs in Santa Cruz County by the end of 2021.” Much of the premium training equipment, lifestyle apparel, activewear and functional swimwear sold by RPM is made by hand at its head office.
Arena Innovation Corp. of New York, announced that it had obtained $5.2 million in seed financing to support the launch of its accessible strength training equipment for home use, which became available for pre-sales last September. Its technology is based on a compact, portable and battery-powered robotic device, made in the U.S., that weighs less than 40 or 60 pounds, but can generate more than 200 pounds of dynamic resistance. The size of a suitcase, it is constructed as a step box or bench. Controlling the resistance, users can make more than 100 multi-directional pull, deadlift or Pilates exercises. They can take workout classes through Arena’s smartphone app.
Numerous investors participated in the new funding round for Arena, including Wellness Holding, the investment vehicle of Technogym’s founders, along with Courtside Ventures, Powerhouse Capital and a number of angel investors such as Lavinia Errico, co-founder of Equinox Group; Anthony and Joe Vennare of Fitt Insider; Braxton Berrios of the New York Jets; and Russ Angold, co-founder and former chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics.
Founded in 2009 and based in Atlanta, Georgia, Wahoo Fitness has developed smart indoor cycling equipment and other connected fitness products and software for endurance sports including cycling computers, GPS watches and heart rate monitors. It recently acquired a pedal company, Speedplay, and a developer of training software, The Sufferfest (or SUF).
Citing macro trends such as the increased emphasis on health and wellness, the growing popularity of cycling and the adoption of digitally-driven home training tools, the Rhône Group, a private equity firm, announced an agreement to make a “significant” investment in Wahoo, along with members of its management including the company’s founder and chairman, Chip Hawkins, and its CEO, Mike Saturnia. A current private equity investor in Wahoo, Norwest Equity Partners, will retain a minority stake in the company. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Rhône said that it is well positioned to support Wahoo’s plans to expand internationally and to add new training solutions through its international network and its experience in retail distribution. Founded in 1996, Rhône describes itself as a global private equity firm with a focus on investments in market-leading businesses with a pan-European or transatlantic presence and expansion prospects. It has offices in New York, London and Paris.
Wahoo is supporting ten teams that are currently competing in the Tour de France cycling race and a three-time Ironman champion, Jan Prodeno.