As the nation slowly lifts restrictions, people are still wary of visiting gyms and are increasingly looking to effective, at-home fitness solutions to get their bodies back to shed the pounds they gained during the lockdown. Ergatta, the at-home connected rowing machine, has already experienced a 50% increase in sales as buyers find that Ergatta’s innovative approach to at-home fitness yields better results. Unlike other fitness solutions led by fitness instructors, Ergatta integrates an interactive gaming element to build an entertaining and motivating experience that leaves the rower in control. From a 17.3-inch interactive screen, rowers can choose from three modes: Guided Row (featuring individual challenges), Eregattas (simulates a rowing competition against other users), and Open Row (freestyle mode). Ergatta’s high-quality design allows this elegant, cherrywood piece of fitness equipment to seamlessly integrate into your home – or wherever you workout. The Ergatta rower costs $1,999 with an additional $29/month subscription fee.
AlleyWatch caught up with Cofounder and CEO Tom Aulet to learn more about how Ergatta is filling a gap in the at-home fitness market, raising capital as a hardware startup, and the company’s recent funding round.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Ergatta raised a $5 million Seed funding round.
The round was led by Greycroft, and joined by investors TechStars, Mark Pincus, Scott Dorsey , Steve Simon, Zach Weinberg, Nat Turner, Chamilionaire, E-40, Joe Zawadzki, Erich Wasserman, Josh Silberstein, WaterRower, and Gaingels, among others.
Tell us about the product or service that Ergatta offers.
Ergatta makes a connected rowing machine for home use, enabled with a fitness gaming studio that structures workouts, offers long-term programming and connects users with a competitive community. The Ergatta Rower is the first product to combine cardio equipment with an interactive gaming platform to deliver a competitive, motivating and entertaining fitness experience for mainstream consumers.
What inspired the start of Ergatta?
We saw a gap in the home fitness market- a lack of programming for consumers who weren’t motivated by videos of fitness instructors guiding a class and wanted their workouts to feel more like a sport than a group fitness class. Ergatta’s software was created to fulfill this need, helping motivate users through competition, challenges, and personal achievement.
How is Ergatta different?
Unlike other at-home fitness solutions, Ergatta’s gaming-inspired software offers a different source of motivation and guidance than smart equipment that relies on fitness instructors to lead a workout session. Ergatta personalizes each workout to the user’s fitness level and goals, giving a completely unique experience to each user and putting them in control by using personal achievement benchmarks and competition against themselves and others as motivation. Additionally, Ergatta is designed with the home in mind- instead of looking like it was plucked from the gym, Ergatta was designed in collaboration with WaterRower, handmade from cherrywood and stores upright to take up the space of a stool in the corner of the home.
What market does Ergatta target and how big is it?
Ergatta is targeting US households with at least one member who spends at least $100 a month on fitness and that does not connect with the instructor-led fitness class experience. This market includes tens of millions of US households. Thirteen million Americans use rowing machines regularly, but roughly half of our early customers have literally never been on a rowing machine before buying their Ergatta.
What’s your business model?
We charge $1999 upfront for the rowing machine and a $29 monthly membership fee.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
As COVID-19 has forced consumers to rethink what their fitness routines will look like inside the home, Ergatta was perfectly poised to provide a solution for consumers looking for an efficient, full-body workout that kept them motivated to reach their fitness goals. Ergatta quickly sold out of inventory in the first few weeks of stay-at-home orders. Whether rowing became a stress-relief tactic or a method to continue reaching one’s fitness goals, usage of the rower increased by 50% during the beginning of the pandemic. And users were turning to Ergatta at least every other day in the month of March.
What was the funding process like?
It honestly took a really long time and was a bit of a slog at times. We are first-time founders operating in a new industry, and we had never raised venture capital before. We stuck with it and kept executing on the business and eventually got the point where our vision and strategy was being proven and it was less of a theoretical argument.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Investors don’t like hardware, and rowing can be perceived as a niche interest. We had to respond to concerns like “what if Peloton copies your content,” and manage the difficulty of effectively demo-ing our product given that it’s a large piece of hardware and COVID-19 made transporting the rowers a bigger challenge.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Uniquely positive unit economics for the industry, overall industry trends, and a proven ability to execute in a capital-efficient manner.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
10k units sold, 90%+ annual retention, acquisition costs below hardware gross margin.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Operate your business in a capital-efficient way. If you can get meaningful traction with limited capital, you will look like a much safer and more promising investment. You’d be surprised how far you can go before raising a venture round if you build a culture of efficiency and execution.
You’d be surprised how far you can go before raising a venture round if you build a culture of efficiency and execution.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’ll begin to establish a new consumer category and experience in gaming-enabled home fitness equipment and position it fresher and more appealing than streaming fitness classes. We’ll double the team, grow our user base by 10x and continue to establish the Ergatta brand as a major player in the industry.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC
Greenpoint Fish & Lobster.
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