Report: Investors eyeing fitness startups

By Brian Dolan
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Strava Cycling iPhone app

Strava Cycling iPhone app

Fitness startups may be becoming a hot commodity for venture capitalists, according to a report in peHUB. In a recent article, the publication profiled venture capitalist Greg Gretsch who brought his hardcore cycling habit into his investment portfolio.

Gretsch who is the managing director of Sigma Partners spent many years avoiding investing in his hobbies, but when he started using cycling-targeted online lifestyle community Strava, he saw its potential for growth into an athlete-based social network likened to Facebook and LinkedIn. The startup took in $3.5 million from Sigma to expand to runners and other fitness enthusiasts and is now part of a trend of growing fitness-niched startups.

Like Sigma, Norwest Venture Partners and other VCs are getting into the fitness and personal health niche--with one Norwest partner claiming the vertical will be the next buzzword like the current trend 'cloud'-everything. The VC firm recently put $9 million into Basis, a mobile health device worn like a watch to measure vital signs.  True Ventures and Foundry Group invested $8 million into a similar device, Fitbit, which tracks user activity. O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures provided $1.1 million in funding to mobile fitness company FitnessKeeper, the people behind RunKeeper.  A competing tracker, MapMyFITNESS recently raised $5 million from Austin Ventures.

The investment community was pretty supportive of mobile health in 2010 and although startups don’t always announce their new rounds of investments MobiHealthNews tallied up the venture capital deals it reported on during 2010 back in January. By our count, about $233 million was invested in mobile health startups during 2010.

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