Connected Rowing Startup Aviron Raises $18.5M as Competition Heats Up

Aviron

Aviron, makers of a gamified connected rowing machine, secured $18.5M in a Series A round led by growth equity firm Stripes, with participation from Global Founders Capital, Formic Ventures, and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov.

With an arcade of immersive games and Olympian-approved hardware, Aviron is making waves with play-first fitness.

Erg-ertainment

Aiming to make fitness more fun, Aviron’s connected rowing machine offers peer-to-peer competition, a range of solo and multiplayer animated games, and group workouts.

Doubling down on entertainment, the platform enables streaming integrations for Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.

Beyond content, the company hasn’t skimped on its hardware. Available in two forms, its Impact series is lightweight and foldable, while its Tough series features a reinforced frame and higher seat to accommodate more body types.

Both machines are designed with air and magnetic resistance, allowing users to switch between cardio and strength training disciplines.

Gaining speed. Bootstrapped for two years, Aviron secured a $4.5M seed investment last summer. Scaling up, company data suggests the rower is taking hold.

  • Between 2020 and 2021, its paying subscriber base grew 2700%.
  • In 2021, revenue increased by 700% YoY.
  • 100% of Aviron households have two or more users.

Along with plans to double its workforce—focusing on software developers and technologists—former Nike and lululemon exec Amy Curry-Staschke joined as COO to accelerate growth.

Connected Rowing Wars

No easy task, Aviron is competing in two rapidly developing spaces: gamified fitness equipment and the connected rowing wars.

On the gaming front, Playpulse’s gamified bike, VR boxing games QUELL and Meta-owned Supernatural, and Peloton’s Lanebreak offer different form factors for immersive gameplay.

Meanwhile, connected rowing is becoming crowded:

  • A direct challenger, Ergatta touts a game-based connected rower.
  • Celebrity-endorsed Hydrow has cumulatively raised $200M to date, with reported sales growth of 500% in 2020 and 300% through the first half of 2021.
  • Even amid company turmoil, Peloton’s long-awaited connected rower is reportedly ready to drop.
  • CITYROW raised $12M in 2021 for its hybrid offering of connected rower plus in-studio fitness.
  • Echelon, iFIT (via NordicTrack), and others all offer at-home connected ergs.

Having A Row

With so many options and slowing demand for digital fitness, the rowing wars are getting heated. Just the start, Hydrow hit iFIT with a patent infringement lawsuit in early February 2022 — it’s seeking to claim profit from all sales of NordicTrack rowers.

Looking ahead, Aviron will need to regularly level up its content to succeed in making fitness more fun.