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Investment Notes: Vitruvian - the future of resistance training
Our Investment Notes series deep-dives into some of our past investment decisions. We unpack what we loved, where we needed to build confidence, and how we ultimately gained conviction to invest
We have sunsetted the AfterWork Ventures Reading Substack. The original post can be found on our website here.
I have a confession: when it comes to working out, I’ve never really been a ‘weights guy’. Whilst you will regularly find me swimming laps at the beach or on a run through the neighbourhood, I’ve always found resistance training - be it at the gym or at home - too far outside of my comfort zone, and an overall less engaging way to stay fit.
And so it’s because of my usual hesitancy - not in spite of it - that I couldn’t be more excited to announce AfterWork’s recent investment in Vitruvian, the creators of the V-Form Trainer: the most compelling and revolutionary approach to resistance training we’ve seen to date.
The V-Form started its life as a side project in the garage of ex-high frequency trader Jon Gregory. Its intelligent, algorithmic approach to resistance training makes it a truly differentiated workout experience. Vitruvian has already coalesced a community of enthusiastic users, who are together #RedefiningStrong.
We first invested in Vitruvian back in September 2020 and have been lucky enough to have worked closely with the team along every step of the way. AfterWork community member and marketing science guru Duncan Allen was able to provide hands-on support through the initial pre-sale campaign, ensuring a successful outcome for the Vitruvian team whilst helping AfterWork build further conviction around our investment decision.
What we loved about the investment opportunity
Connected Fitness is here to stay
International brands like Peloton have proved there is a community of fitness fans out there who are more than willing to trade away their regular Spin class at a gym or studio for the convenience of an at-home, high-tech exercise bike. At US$2k per bike (not to mention the $250 delivery fee and $39-per-month subscription for content), there’s no denying they’re willing to pay for the right to do so! Peloton has done an amazing job bringing cardio into the home, but the jury is still out on who will become the leader of the at-home resistance workout.
We believe Vitruvian brings the most compelling offering we’ve seen across the board. We’re excited to watch them grow from humble beginnings as a garage-dwelling prototype to a household staple!
There’s a huge difference between an infomercial and real science
I must admit, when I first saw the prototype V-Form, my initial thought was ‘Isn’t this like the piece of junk my Dad bought off morning television in the early 2000s?’
But after talking to the team - and more importantly seeing the V-Form in action - I quickly changed my tune. It only takes one experience with the V-Form to understand how its intelligent algorithms can facilitate the perfect personalised workout, no matter what fitness goals you’re working towards.
But, it’s the V-Form’s eccentric mode that truly changes the game.
Eccentric training occurs when muscles extend under tension; this in contrast to concentric training in which the muscle contracts under tension as you’d typically experience when doing your usual bicep curls at the gym. Sports science has continued to validate the benefits of eccentric training, and it’s not just what the theory says - elite athletes, rehab specialists and professional lifters have long known that eccentric training yields more muscle growth, decreases risk of injury, and increases flexibility. By bringing the benefits of eccentric training to the home, the V-Form - developed in partnership with leading researchers - is staking its claim as the next generation of connected fitness.
Hardware is hard. But, the Vitruvian team have already perfected a high-quality product
We often get nervous when talking to businesses involved in the production and sale of expensive, physical objects. Hardware is famously difficult to execute on, as it typically requires multiple product iterations before even a working prototype can be produced (let alone put into the hands of a customer). Additionally, there can be huge upfront costs associated with producing a product before you can sell it (versus software, where the marginal cost of production is near zero), plus you have to worry about real-world distribution challenges.
Fortunately, as we got to know the team, we gained confidence that the V-Form is already an extremely well functioning piece of equipment, largely due to the multiple product iterations Jon was able to perform in his garage over the years.
The challenges we saw
As pre-seed investors, no matter how much we personally love a product, there is always a risk that there won’t be enough customers who feel the same way.
We first invested in Vitruvian as the team were announcing a pre-sale campaign, before any customers had the chance to try the V-Form for themselves.
Since then, our fears have evaporated. More and more customers are getting their hands on the V-Form machines, and customers cannot stop raving about how much the V-Form has become the centrepiece of their workout routine, and how much they love it.
Of course, it would be remiss to not mention the other players working hard to consolidate the at-home connected fitness market for resistance training. In particular, there are a number of large players out of the US (backed by some big name VCs and celebrities). But pound-for-pound, we’re backing these Aussies to be the long term winners in this space; they’ve got the tech, they’ve got the science, and they’ve got the team!
The questions we had for the team
The team had shown so much progress over such a short period of time. So, our questions revolved around ‘what’s next?’
You’ve cracked the hardware problem, but how are you going to make sure you stick the landing with respect to software, community, and user experience?
It’s still early days, but the team intimately understands all of what it takes to build a connected fitness company (after all, Peloton didn’t get where they are by inventing the stationary bike). The team are hard at work building out the iOS and Android apps, creating communities of V-Form classes, and continuing to ensure the V-Form brings those ‘wow moments’ from unboxing to your hundredth workout.
The world is your oyster, but what’s the quickest and most effective way to get the V-Form into as many customers’ hands as possible, in a manner that delivers great unit level economics?
The team is moving fast and learning quickly to understand which channels are most responsive and are seeing the most success. The team has also been working with some big name personal trainers and fitness influencers to get the word out as quickly as possible, while bringing together a community of V-Form super-users from Day 1.
How we got conviction
It’s rare to meet a business who’ve got both the macros (as the world moves towards at-home, connected fitness) and micros (a differentiated, science backed product with attractive unit economics) going for them at the same time.
The V-Form is the real deal and the customer-love we’ve seen since our initial investment has been testament to our early conviction.
We’re lucky to have Vitruvian as part of the AfterWork family and are confident they’ll soon become an essential part of many home workout stations.
If you’re excited to give this magical machine a whirl, you can order a V-Form from vitruvianform.com. Leave a comment on this post, and we’ll send you a discount code for $50 off!