VCs Share What It’s Like To Test Out Fitness Apps Before They Invest

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Sometimes the champion mode to cognize thing works is by trying it retired yourself.

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Health and fitness-related goals are commonly a New Year’s solution for galore consumers, truthful we decided it was worthy asking 5 task capitalists who put successful fittingness apps and platforms, however they spell astir evaluating imaginable investments. Some of them tried retired a fewer apps oregon products, portion others tried retired arsenic galore arsenic they could get their hands on, arsenic they decided what to put successful and what to walk on.

When it comes to fittingness apps and platforms, what’s much definite is determination is large wealth to beryllium had successful the sector, successful portion owed to the planetary pandemic keeping everyone astatine location for overmuch of 2020. Not lone did location go a workplace, it besides became a gym.

Investors pumped $7.3 cardinal into conscionable implicit 730 U.S.-based fittingness apps and platforms successful the past 5 years, with $2.4 cardinal coming conscionable successful 2020, according to known backing rounds wrong the Crunchbase database.

Tim Chang, Mayfield Fund

Tim Chang, a spouse astatine Mayfield Fund, 1 was a seed investor successful Tonal, a astute location gym that uses artificial quality and coaching to supply spot training, successful 2015. He has been progressive successful wellness tracking, grooming and nutrition for the past 20 years, and his peculiar involvement was successful value lifting.

“I tried each of the devices and each instrumentality — adjacent gathering retired a location gym,” Chang said successful an interview. “Tonal was fantastic and became a immense portion of my identity. When Tonal came along, I understood it due to the fact that it was wherever idiosyncratic passionateness fits wherever you invest, but initially, nary VC wanted to interaction it. Silicon Valley looks down connected spot training. They deliberation it is for ‘meat heads,’ and lone privation to absorption connected region sports without blase equipment.”

Tonal did spell connected to rise $200 cardinal successful known funding since it was founded successful 2015, according to Crunchbase data. It was thing that Chang knew would yet happen.

“It’s gratifying to spot the marketplace drawback up to what I’ve ever known,” helium added.

Elizabeth Edwards, H Venture Partners

An aboriginal capitalist successful Peloton, Elizabeth Edwards, laminitis and wide spouse of H Venture Partners, was capable to look astatine the manufacturing prototype for the app-connected stationary bike. This was prelaunch, and determination weren’t immoderate classes to merchantability yet, but Edwards saw the product’s potential.

“What sold america was the prime of the bike, the plans and the benignant of contented they were looking to do,” she said successful an interview. “It was taking that SoulCycle acquisition and bringing it into your home. I was acquainted with the benignant of content, doing yoga for the past 15 years.”

While she likes the bicycle part, Edwards leaves that to her hubby and is overmuch much into Peloton’s streaming yoga content, which she exercises alongside frequently. She besides hopes Peloton volition travel retired with an elliptical product.

Peloton, present a nationalist company, went connected to rise a full of $994.7 cardinal successful known funding, according to Crunchbase data.

Todd Dagres, Spark Capital

Spark Capital laminitis and Partner Todd Dagres recalls trying retired Mirror, a connected fittingness level that streams classes via a mirror-like screen, aft the institution archetypal got started successful 2016. It was a unsocial experience, not lone due to the fact that helium could interaction and effort it, but helium could consciousness the results.

“We were capable to demo a prototype, and that helped a lot,” Dagres told Crunchbase News. “We were sold connected Mirror erstwhile we saw however antithetic and unsocial it was, and we besides felt it was an accidental to beryllium a person successful emerging categories.”

Spark went connected to pb some Mirror’s $13 cardinal Series A and $25 cardinal Series B successful 2018. Mirror was aboriginal acquired by Lululemon for $500 cardinal successful June 2020.

Dagres himself past co-founded a connected fittingness platform, Liteboxer, that provides a boxing experience. The institution raised $4 cardinal successful seed backing successful 2020 led by Will Ventures.

Kyle Lui, DCM Ventures

There are 2 things to cognize astir Kyle Lui: One, helium is simply a large merchandise feline — you sanction the fittingness app oregon platform, and helium has astir apt tried it. Two, helium thinks that asking idiosyncratic “what is your at-home fittingness set-up” is simply a communal question successful 2020, but decidedly was not successful 2019.

“I effort them all,” the DCM Ventures spouse said successful an interview. “I’m passionate astir the abstraction and americium looking for the adjacent compelling product.”

Lui said determination is simply a batch of country successful the fittingness space, and portion a merchandise mightiness talk to him, helium knows it doesn’t needfully talk to others. Some of the products and services he’s tried had a bully marque and marketing, but lacked existent uniqueness. He besides thinks immoderate of the axenic integer experiences — those with one-way interactions — wouldn’t beryllium capable to support consumers’ attraction long-term, helium added.

He was astir precocious progressive successful Tempo’s $60 cardinal Series B. Tempo is simply a location fittingness level that combines equipment, grooming guidance and societal information with 3D sensors and artificial intelligence. DCM led the company’s $17 cardinal Series A circular successful 2019.

“We had a bully consciousness of what we were looking for successful Tempo, and the archetypal clip we tried it, we had a ‘wow’ experience,” Lui said.

Mark Wan, Causeway Media Partners

Mark Wan is different VC who has tried galore fittingness apps and platforms on the mode to investing successful immoderate of them. Causeway Media Partners, wherever Wan is managing partner, focuses connected later-stage sports and fittingness investments.

Two person been Zwift, an online fittingness level involving indoor cycling, and Freeletics, a integer fittingness institution that offers tools to assistance beforehand carnal fittingness and intelligence strength. Causeway invested successful some companies past September: It led Freeletics’ $25 cardinal Series B and was progressive successful Zwift’s $450 cardinal Series C.

Wan sees pitches from betwixt 2 and 5 companies successful this abstraction per month, and portion helium doesn’t effort each of them, helium is blessed to trial rather a fewer of them.

“I don’t privation to usage myself arsenic a proxy for the marketplace due to the fact that I americium a illustration size of one, but I americium funny to spot what the acquisition is like: The benignant of workout, the intensity, the equipment, however casual it is to motion up and trial the lawsuit service,” Wan said. “With Zwift, we thought it was the champion retired determination arsenic acold arsenic cycling, had existent standard and a large absorption team. Freeletics is 1 of the champion retired determination that is simply a axenic integer app, with standard and a large enactment team.”

What’s next

The fittingness class is particularly absorbing close present arsenic the global wellness nine market nears $100 cardinal successful value, Edwards said. She cited marketplace probe which recovered that portion wellness nine members person returned to those facilities oregon volition erstwhile it becomes harmless again, younger Americans are enjoying exercising astatine location and program to continue.

All of the VCs who spoke with Crunchbase News for this nonfiction said that the keys to fittingness apps and platforms succeeding is for them to fulfill their promises and motivate customers to usage them connected a regular basis.

Dagres said he’s tested products wherever the afloat assemblage benefits were stellar, but it either was going to origin semipermanent accent to his assemblage oregon it was truthful boring that helium didn’t spot himself doing it everyday.

“You person to person the efficacy, wherever if you accidental you volition get the calorie pain from a 30-minute workout, you person to marque that happen,” helium added. “The different portion is conscionable arsenic important, if not more, it has to beryllium thing radical volition bash again and again. If not, it has nary benefit.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman


  1. Mayfield Fund is an capitalist successful Crunchbase. They person nary accidental successful our editorial process. For more, head here.↩

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