Exclusive: Fitness startup Katalyst raises $26M to scale production
Katalyst, a fitness equipment startup, raised $26 million to ramp production of its electro muscle stimulation suit, CEO Bjoern Woltermann tells Axios exclusively.
Why it matters: Investors continue to fuel health and fitness-focused startups as they look to tap into conscious consumerism, while consumers increasingly seek products that optimize their experiences.
What's happening: The Series A round is led by Stripes and includes Incisive Ventures and Unlock Venture Partners.
- Model and actress Cindy Crawford and entertainment industry businessman Rande Gerber also chipped in this round.
- Woltermann declined to disclose valuation and revenue.
How it works: The Las Vegas-based company manufactures a US Food and Drug Administration-approved full body suit that activates muscle fibers to accelerate workouts, Woltermann says.
- Sold directly to consumers, the suit can activate more muscle fibers than a typical workout, the company says.
- It can be worn anywhere, and makes working out faster, easier, safer and more efficient, Woltermann adds.
What's next: "We literally want to integrate it into your lives," Woltermann says.
- "Because it's your own personal device, we're going to do a lot around analytics," he says, with the goal of leveraging that to customize workouts for every person.
- Series A proceeds will finance increasing production, developing brand awareness and growing its team.
- Meeting demand is dependent on how many semiconductors the company can acquire in the next 12 to 18 months, Woltermann tells Axios.
- "It's literally whenever we get product in, we ship it out."
Of note: Katalyst has shipped over 1,200 units so far as part of an early access program. But the company says it has a waitlist of 75,000 that keeps growing.
State of play: The U.S. is a nascent and under-penetrated market for Katalyst's suits, Woltermann says.
- The full-body EMS fitness training market took off in Germany in 2007, the company says, and has since expanded to over 100 countries.
- Employed mainly by physical therapists for years, the EMS workout is starting to gain traction, with studios like Body20 and Manduu cropping up across the U.S.
- However, U.S. regulators have only recently cleared the equipment for studio use, he says, so it can only be found in several dozen locations.
Yes and: People "have organized their lives around their home or where they are," Woltermann says.
- Katalyst enables people to exercise with more flexibility and predictability, he says.
- There's also "an efficiency gain," letting customers squeeze in a workout during a break or in less time.
- "We're seeing people that never went to the gym, or are basically not allowed to go to the gym [due to injuries] or who hate the gym, and they're doing this," he says.
- When it comes to fitness, "we really want to move the needle," the executive says.