PGA Tour golfer Dustin Johnson is the latest professional athlete to invest in OxeFit, a company that manufactures and sells high-end fitness training systems.
Johnson participated in OxeFit’s Series A1 round that recently closed with $15 million of equity commitments. In all, OxeFit has raised nearly $35 million of funding since Mohammed “Rab” Shanableh and Peter Neuhaus founded the company in January 2020.
OxeFit expects to raise an additional $20 million of funding in the coming months, according to Shanableh. The company plans on using funds from the A1 round and upcoming round primarily to scale the company through employee hires and sales and marketing of its XS1 consumer product that hit the market in December 2021. The company also has a product, XP1, that launched in April 2021 and is geared towards professional sports teams, rehabilitation facilities and college athletics programs.
OxeFit received a small amount of seed funding early on from Lydia Partners, a venture capital firm that Shanableh founded in 2020. But since then, the company has eschewed funding from other VCs and instead courted athletes and sports medicine professionals as investors.
OxeFit’s other investors include Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, free agent NFL receiver Dez Bryant, former Major League Baseball outfielder Matt Kemp and Toronto Raptors forward Thaddeus Young. James Andrews, a famous orthopedic surgeon who’s worked with numerous professional athletes, is also an investor in OxeFit and helped design the product.
“We took an approach early on instead of the traditional venture model was to make sure athletes and the sports medicine (community) was plugged in early on in the lifetime of the company,” said Shanableh, who is the company’s CEO. “They’re a big validation for the tech.”
He added: “That’s been probably the best thing we’ve done, to be honest with you, because they’ve been extremely active all the way down to the design principles.”
Startups often court high-profile athletes as investors because they can attract attention to the product or service. Some of those companies compensate athletes and grant them equity without the athletes having to invest their own money, but Shanableh claims that is not the case with OxeFit.
“You notice now a lot of (startups) are starting to try to add celebrities, and their approach to it is, ‘Let’s buy as many celebrity names as we can so they stand behind the product,’” Shanableh said. “Just to be clear, I have not paid a celebrity a dime. Not a single name announced and yet to be announced have gotten paid a dime by OxeFit. In fact, they all invested and paid to be part of OxeFit. That’s a key differentiator.”
Johnson became familiar with OxeFit late last year when he heard about it from Kolby Tullier, one of his trainers. Johnson and Tullier are partners in a fitness and training center in Jupiter, Fla., that has two of the OxeFit XP1 products. Johnson also is installing an OxeFit XS1 in his home.
“My coach can make a workout and send it to my machine and it’s already pre-loaded in there,” Johnson said. “The technology is so much more advanced than anything I’ve seen. I think it’s a great machine. You can do all kinds of different stuff on it, and I like the feedback it gives, too.”
The XP1, which is for commercial use by pro teams, training centers and college programs, has a 43-inch touchscreen and can accommodate up to 500 pounds. Meanwhile, the XS1 is primarily for use in home gyms and has a 32-inch touchscreen and can handle up to 250 pounds of weight.
Both products have integrated force plates and sensors and use artificial intelligence to tailor workouts and provide real-time data. People can do strength training and cardio workouts on the machines. The cardio exercises include simulated rowing, canoeing, paddleboard and kayaking.
The starting cost for the XS1 is $3,799, down from an initial entry price of $5,999 when it launched last December. People must also pay a $39.99 monthly subscription fee to access the workouts. OxeFit’s competitors in the at-home fitness sector include Tonal, which raised $250 million in a Series E round in March 2021 at a $1.6 billion valuation, and Tempo, which raised $220 million in a Series C round in April 2021.
Peloton is another fitness startup that benefited greatly from people working out at home during the coronavirus pandemic. But in recent months, Peloton has disclosed its sales have significantly declined, and the company replaced its CEO and co-founder, John Foley, with former Netflix
Private companies like OxeFit, Tonal and Tempo do not have to disclose their sales figures or any other financial data, but Shanableh acknowledged the trend of more people returning to work out at gyms. That’s why OxeFit has begun selling XS1 products to gym chains such as Planet Fitness
Shanableh declined to say how many units the company has sold, but he said it was in the “thousands.” He added that the company has generated “multiple millions” of dollars in revenue without sharing specifics.
“We’re scaling fast,” Shanableh said. “We have more incoming orders than we can fulfill. We’re growing as fast as we can without being too disruptive to our business.”