ASENSEI RAISES $2M LED BY KB PARTNERS TO BRING CONNECTED COACHING TO MARKET ACROSS WIDE-RANGE OF SPORTS.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 14th, 2018
Today, asensei, Inc., a Connected Coaching (TM) company specializing in digital sports coaching and smart apparel, announced the raise of $2m investment led by KB Partners, a Chicago-based early stage venture firm focused on the intersection of sports and technology, and Mooring Hitch. This brings the total investment in the company to just under $3m. Previous investors include several former executives of Industrial Light and Magic and Hulu.
"The Connected Fitness category has been defined by activity trackers, smart watches and internet connected fitness equipment with touchscreen tablets", says asensei CEO, Steven Webster. "But tracking isn't teaching and counting isn't coaching. Streaming a fitness class lets you join the class and watch the coach, but it doesn't let the coach watch you and adjust the class. What's missing is Connected Coaching."
CONNECTED COACHING: THE EVOLUTION OF CONNECTED FITNESS
asensei is your personal trainer who knows your every move. With sensors throughout your clothing, she tracks your posture and movement. She talks to sensors in your sports equipment to gauge your performance. She guides and monitors your practice, and provides feedback on form and progress, all delivered in real-time in your ear.
According to Webster, "To coach sport or guide an athlete through a personal training session rather than a studio workout, we need to be able to see what a coach sees, say what a coach says, and teach what a coach teaches. These are the 3 things that define Connected Coaching and define asensei."
"See what a coach sees" - the Kinetic Capture (TM) technology developed by asensei allows real-time observation of an athlete's biomechanics, with sport-specific understanding of technique and form. asensei offers a royalty-free reference design for apparel manufacturers who wish to differentiate their existing apparel offering. A network of asensei sensors can be embedded in regular sports apparel to understand the wearer's posture and technique in any sport or activity.
"Say what a coach says" - by understanding an athlete's posture and technique through Kinetic Capture, and understanding an athlete's performance by integrating with industry standard fitness equipment, asensei is able to offer real-time guidance, monitoring and correction to athletes as they follow coaching programs and practice their sport.
"Teach what a coach teaches" - Conventional video workouts progress athletes from episode to episode, with little or no personalization. asensei allows the creation of coaching programs as a teaching syllabus with a supporting library of audio and video coaching content. This allows athletes to move through the program along their own path, at their own pace, according to observation of their practice and performance.
This novel approach allows the creation of coaching programs that put the athlete at the center of a journey of learning, as they follow those who have gone on that journey before them. This allows apparel and equipment manufacturers, leagues and teams, governing bodies and franchises and coaches to connect with athletes in an original, inspirational and authentic manner.
In the sport of rowing, Eric Murray competed at 4 Olympics, won 2 Olympic gold medals, 8 World Championship gold medals and has held 4 indoor rowing world records. His journey is one of high school kid in New Zealand to one of the top Olympic rowers in the sport. A journey many aspire to follow.
"In partnership with Concept 2 rowing machines and the Movember Foundation in New Zealand, we worked together to create a 6-week coaching program that allows you to learn or improve at the sport of indoor rowing", says Webster. "Eric worked with us to put together a 6-week teaching syllabus that allows athletes to train alongside him, starting with a masterclass in the rowing stroke and building up to the famous 2k test. With asensei, this teaching program is adjusted to the athlete whether they start as a complete beginner or experienced rower."
On the opportunity to inspire the next generation of athletes, Murray said "I was fortunate in my career to have coaches who pushed me and believed in me. Since retiring from Olympic Rowing after Rio, I'm inspired to help others find what I found from rowing. With asensei, I can reach and teach as many people as I could with an online program, but with the kind of hands-on coaching and correction they'd get if they had me in the room as a personal trainer."
On the opportunity for equipment providers to partner with asensei in creating a digital strategy, former New Zealand Olympic Single Sculler and owner of Concept 2 New Zealand, Gary Reid said "As an equipment provider, we have been looking for a way to make the purchase of a rowing machine the beginning of our relationship with an athlete, not the end. Working with asensei over the last few years in the region while they test and trial the product with local rowers, we are embracing the idea of offering our customers a subscription that includes the Concept 2 rowing machine paired with a goal-specific coaching program. Whether they're a high school rower who want to get recruited by a US university, a master rower who wants to bring purpose to their practice, or individuals who recognize rowing as a low-impact and high-effectiveness workout for weight-loss or recovery from injury, we want to help our customers reach their goals with subscription coaching offerings."
On the opportunity for a brand to create innovative campaigns that follow-through on brand objectives, Robert Dunne of Movember New Zealand said, "We know that the best preventive tool to lower the incidence of all our causes is being physically active and for this is be truly integrated into a man’s life.
One of our challenges is knowing how effective our campaign is in creating that habit change, while a further challenge is that we need this habit to be 12-months of the year, not just for the month of November. With asensei, we are able to turn a call to action into a call to participate, and we can objectively measure how engaged people were in our campaign and use that to improve our future campaigns.”
INVESTING IN CONNECTED COACHING
asensei for rowing is the first sport being brought to market on the asensei technology platform. With the funds recently raised, a number of different coaching programs are being developed and launched on the platform in the months ahead. Each program is delivered by a different coach and targeted at a different demographic of rower - the high school athlete seeking selection or scholarship, the CrossFit athlete who wants to make the games or be best in the box, the fitness enthusiast who wants a studio fitness experience blended with personal training, or the competitive athlete for whom rowing is an integral part of their strength, conditioning and cross-training.
At launch these coaching programs have deep integration with the Concept 2 rowing machine, requiring only a smartphone to interpret sensor data from the equipment to guide, monitor and correct an athlete's practice and performance. Later next year, asensei will introduce the first Kinetic Capture capable apparel, allowing asensei to not only coach rowers on their biomechanics and form, but to cross-train them in adjacent activities including Olympic lifting and strength and conditioning training.
“We cannot be more thrilled to join and support the asensei team as they build the next generation of digital coaching,” said Lance Dietz of KB Partners. “asensei is one of the first investments in our new sports-tech fund and is quite representative of our thesis and the characteristics we look for in an opportunity – phenomenal team with deep experience, use of technology to disrupt a particular aspect of the sports market, and potential for application to adjacent opportunities. The team is taking the popular Connected Fitness market to a new level with a unique offering of real-time and personalized Connected Coaching, going beyond what’s available today in the digital fitness landscape. Additionally, we really like that asensei provides a new channel for incumbent equipment and apparel manufacturers to engage with their existing customers and attract new ones over a sustained period of time as the company moves into additional sport categories such as yoga and weight training. We are incredibly excited to partner with Steven and team as they bring asensei to market”
On what's next from here Webster says, "Working with Olympians including Eric Murray (Team New Zealand), Helen Glover (Team Great Britain) and Hans Struzyna (Team USA), creating programs with coaches to CrossFit games athletes past and present, and with instructors from boutique indoor rowing studios, we are striving to be a part of the growing indoor rowing community. We not only wish to participate in the growth of the sport by making it accessible to newcomers, but participate in the success of the sport by helping more athletes reach their potential by bringing them the right coaching, from the right coach, at the right time."
"But we're ready to bring asensei to market in other sports with the brands that align to them. Apparel manufacturers. Equipment manufacturers. Leagues. Teams. Brands. Combined with our connected coaching platform, we can all get to the future, faster, together."
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Sign up for 6-weeks free coaching with Eric Murray at http://movember.asensei.com/
Founded in 2014, asensei is democratizing access to world-class sport coaching, by allowing athletes of all abilities to following coaching programs led by world-class athletes and coaches, in the sport of their choosing. Our Kinetic Capture ™ technology gives asensei sport-specific understanding of posture and movement by embedding motion capture capability into regular sports apparel. The asensei experience can be accessed as easily as pulling on a shirt or pair of shorts, allowing asensei to guide, monitor and correct your practice with real-time feedback. asensei is changing the way aspiring athletes practice sport and fitness, by letting them progress along their own path as they follow coaching programs from sporting heroes.
For more information visit www.asensei.com.
ABOUT KB PARTNERS
KB Partners is a suburban Chicago based investment firm focused on early stage venture capital investments. KB’s principals take an active approach in helping to build dominant new enterprises by working in partnership with talented entrepreneurs and experienced managers. The firm is currently investing out of KB Partners Myriad Opportunity Fund, which invests in passionate innovators at the intersection of sports and technology.