Nearly 7 years after starting Signia with some awesome partners, I’ve decided to step back from a General Partner into a Venture Partner role. Why? I spent most of 2018 going deep and looking to make an investment in the connected fitness / wellness markets. This included all the fitness conferences and tradeshows, meetings with gyms, equipment manufacturers, trainers, coaches, and physical therapists, user surveys to understand consumer sentiment and trends, even buying credit card usage data, and time with dozens upon dozens of start-ups. I’ve tried almost every kind of boutique in-person studio (yes, that includes barre and pilates) and piece of fitness hardware out there (we love our Peloton at home btw). Sadly, the end result of this year long journey was a 200 slide market overview deck, lots of air and hotel miles, and no investments made.
BUT, what all this research revealed is a big hole in the market that wasn’t being solved in a way that scaled to millions of users. From consumers we heard two consistent issues loud and clear: “am I doing this right?” and “fitness/wellness is getting super expensive.”
So, over the last 6 months, we put together a company (Exer) to solve some of these problems. We’ve been incubating it inside of Signia along with my co-founders Sean Cook and Clint Gehde. The chance to go run this company full-time with these two and my passion about the opportunity to help millions of people was just too great to pass up. I guess the saying is true: once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur!
Back to Signia for a moment, even though Signia is obviously a venture capital fund, it has always felt like an entrepreneurial start-up to me. We had to raise $ (from LPs instead of VCs), hire, define our product, shape our culture and values, figure out operations, and more. All the things any start-up has to do. People used to ask me what our goal was when we started Signia and my response is always: build a firm whose name 20 years from now will still be synonymous with excellence and where we’re always still the entrepreneurs’ first call when things go good or bad. Both of those statements are still true today and the over looks great for the future. I’m tremendously proud of the firm that we’ve built and the portfolio companies and founders we’ve invested in.
In my new role as Venture Partner, I’ll continue to help all of Signia’s existing portfolio companies but won’t be making any new investments. To the companies I spend the most time with (Boxed, ApplePie, Scoop, Strivr, Alice, and Bitski), I’ll still be there for those post-kids-bedtime phone calls or meet-ups whenever you need. Thanks for putting your trust in me, it’s a privilege to work with you all.
And drumroll please….introducing Exer! (well sorta). We aren’t fully ready to take the swaddle off the baby yet, but for now we can say we’re building a platform at the intersection of human movement and AI / Computer Vision…all on the edge (ie. mobile). We’re excited about the many ways that this motion coaching platform can be used to help people move, play, and train. Signia has led a $2.5m seed round into Exer and we’re excited to have my long-time partner Rick Thompson join our Board.
We’ve also done our first acquisition: Exer has acquired Frontier Labs, the previous company of my now Exer co-founder Sean Cook and his partner Ben Sandofsky. Ben is going to spend time focusing on his insanely popular photo apps and will continue to help Exer as a trusted advisor.
There will be much more to tell and show in the coming months, so if you’re interested in staying in touch and trying out the beta in the fall, please go here and loan us your email or follow @movewithexer.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank a few other people quickly (cue Oscar music trying to get me off the stage): To my Signia team, it’s been a great honor working with all of you to build this fund over the past 7 years and I’ve learned so much about being a better investor and a better person. Special shoutout to Rick for pulling all of us together back in 2012. To my Exer co-founders, Sean and Clint, get ready for a wild ride! And finally to my friends and family, especially my wife Charlaine, for all the love and support as I transition back to being a start-up entrepreneur.
PS. We’re hiring