A New York startup is hoping to bring group spinning classes to the home, with a high-tech twist.
The company, Peloton, on Monday is launching a campaign to raise $250,0000 via crowd-funding website Kickstarter to build and sell custom-made stationary bicycles that connect to remote instructors via a computerized console and software that Peloton also built to its specifications.
The result is an indoor bicycle that shares more DNA with a Tour de France model than with the clunky exercise equipment in mom’s rec room. Peloton also is working to open an indoor cycle studio in New York City, where instructors will create the same type of high-energy spinning classes popularized by fitness chains such as SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports, but beamed digitally to the (sweaty dis-)comfort of your home.
Peloton’s executive team includes former executives at Barnes & Noble BKS -2.79% and IAC. The startup raised $4 million in financing from several dozen angel investors, many from Silicon Valley or Wall Street. (Peloton is the term for the throng of cyclists who ride together in a bike race.)
Peloton Founder and CEO John Foley, a former executive at Internet conglomerate IAC and the ex-president of e-commerce at Barnes & Noble, said he sees room for high-tech and group-activity spice to what he called the “dull” exercise-at-home market. “We’re going to be the coolest thing in indoor fitness,” Foley said.
Like the e-reader tablets from Amazon.com AMZN -2.37% or Barnes & Noble, Foley said Peloton hopes to sell the bikes at or below cost for a shot at making money from selling people the content — in Peloton’s case, classes live or on-demand with instructors and fellow spinners all connected via digital video cameras.
The Peloton indoor bikes are starting out with a $1,500 price tag, but Mr. Foley said he hopes to eventually sell the bikes for $500 each, and make up the cost on subscriptions to classes. Peloton says it won’t charge more than $39 for a month of unlimited classes. At SoulCycle, the New York chain that helped make spinning popular among celebrities and financiers, classes can cost $30 to $40 each.
Foley said he sought traditional venture funding for Peloton, but didn’t find a warm reception for his company, which had relatively large startup costs because of ambitious plans to build a customized piece of fitness equipment combined with a high-tech computer monitor.
Foley said Kickstarter has been a place where new types of hardware — including the Pebble smart watch and the videogame device Ouya — have had a chance to prove their appeal.
Peloton isn’t the first company to meld cycling and tech. Just in the last month, a project called Helios raised more than $120,000 to build handlebars that incorporate into a bicycle some features from a car dashboard, including GPS tracking, headlights and turn signals and a Bluetooth connection to smartphones. Bicycle manufacturer Specialized also has been pitching in Silicon Valley a new type of electric bike called the Turbo eBike.