Piper, an investment firm in London, is planning to pour £11.5 million (€12.5m-$14.9m) into Wattbike, a relatively young British brand of smart stationary bikes. The deal, which may have been spurred on by Gymshark’s recent ultra-successful fund-raising, is awaiting approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the U.K.’s financial regulatory body. The funding from Piper is planned to go toward the company’s expansion in the home market of the U.K. as well as in the U.S. and Asia.
Wattbike was originally a B2B brand, selling mostly to gyms, but has devoted more and more resources over the past few years to the direct-to-consumer (DTC) market. Like other brands in home fitness, it found itself well positioned for the Covid-19 quarantines. Orders for the month of April leaped up by 192 percent year-on-year, and sales are projected to exceed £21 million (€22.8m-$27.0m) for 2020 as a whole.
Wattbike’s product, called the Atom, was designed in consultation with Peter Keen, performance director at British Cycling. One of its selling points is that it can serve both amateur and professional athletes – and is in fact being used by British Cycling, the Rugby World Cup and the England national football club, not to mention the British Army. Another selling point is its ability collect data that professional coaches can use. It accomplishes this with a patented system called Wattbike Hub.
The company was founded in 2000 by Ian Wilson in partnership with British Cycling, the sport’s governing body in the U.K. Rather than a cyclist, Wilson is a three-time medalist in the World Rowing Championships and the brother of two other rowers, Stuart and Andrew Wilson. Ian Wilson is currently a non-executive director and shareholder in Wattbike, having stepped down as chief executive in 2018. The current CEO is Rich Baker. Gordon Baird, former chairman of Inov-8 and Zoggs, is set to become non-executive chairman. Wattbike remains headquartered in the city of its birth, Nottingham. It currently employs 64 people.