Transforming Lives Through Fitness, Health and Wellness: Why Sapphire is Thrilled to Once Again Back Tonal
At Sapphire, we believe a defining trait of many successful businesses is having a founder with a powerful personal connection to what they're building and a genuine desire to improve people's lives. Aly Orady, founder and CEO of Tonal1 is one such leader. He’s a passionate Silicon Valley veteran, engineer and entrepreneur on a mission to make personalized strength training accessible to all.
Let’s put this into context: Picture the most advanced gym and personal training system that all fit into a compact home space. Tonal2 makes this happen by providing a unique blend of equipment, technology and AI-powered guidance so that anyone, anywhere, can effectively reach their fitness goals. With truly evangelical zeal, Aly has turned a unique idea into what’s become the heart and soul of his organization--and into thousands of customers’ lives too.
We were so impressed with Aly and his vision for Tonal that back in 2018, Doug Higgins and the Sapphire Sport team invested in the startup’s Series B when the company was still pre-revenue. In 2019, Sapphire reaffirmed its commitment to Tonal by participating in its $45 million Series C, and once again in 20203 by participating in the company’s $110 million Series D.
Today, we couldn’t be more excited to back Tonal a fourth time. This time the Sapphire Ventures team, Sapphire’s investment team dedicated to primarily investing in growth stage technology companies, is participating in the company’s $250 million Series E. What’s more is that with this latest round, Tonal surpasses unicorn status with a valuation of $1.6 billion.4
The art of early-stage trend spotting
At Sapphire, we seek big markets being disrupted by innovative technologies. So in 2018 we created Sapphire Sport to apply our vast expertise to early-stage consumer technology startups. Tonal was one of Sapphire Sport’s first investments, and what made Tonal attractive at the time was the excitement around the democratization of digital health, driven by companies like Fitbit and Livongo, both Sapphire portfolio companies that later went public. Particularly compelling was how Tonal was putting personalization and technology into people’s hands to improve their lives.
We also loved the personal story behind Tonal, and how it was inspired by Aly Orady’s own health journey of navigating through injury and recovery. We were deeply moved by how he innovatively applied his freshly gained fitness knowledge and 20 years of deep technology expertise to lose 70 pounds while in the process of creating what is now Tonal.
For Sapphire, Tonal has become a prime example for supporting a company of consequence from its early stages into its later and more advanced stages of growth. Since Sapphire Sport’s initial Series B investment, Tonal has sprinted from pre-revenue to become a large-scale growth-stage business. Consistently, Aly’s passion and dedication in creating a great company have been matched only by his passion for his customers.
Tonal continues to blaze a path for intelligent fitness, while further establishing itself as a clear leader in the connected strength training category. Its expansion has been accelerated by huge demand for at-home fitness equipment during the pandemic with gym closures or restrictions. This resulted in Tonal’s sales surging 800%5 from December 2019 to December 2020, coupled with the highest engagement and retention rates in the industry.
In fact, Aly’s future vision of connected fitness has materialized faster than anyone could have anticipated. It’s becoming a persistent trend with products once considered too expensive, now viewed as long-term health investments. Backing this is Tonal’s thriving community of tens of thousands of paying subscribers including notable celebrities, olympians and athletes.
Powering up to reach growth potential
Since Sapphire Sport’s initial investment, we’ve connected Tonal to notable brands, sports names and investors. Once Tonal began to achieve greater scale, it was only natural for Paul Levine and the Sapphire Ventures team to come on board as partners and participate in Tonal’s Series E--a real milestone in the company’s history.
For Tonal, the Sapphire Ventures team brings the right kind of expertise to continue supporting Tonal on its hyper-growth journey and reaching its full potential. We’re excited to help Tonal continue to build out their leadership team and ramp up investment across the whole organization. We’ll also help them work out how to scale up new product innovations, partnerships and marketing in order to sustain and grow the consumer base.
Looking ahead, we feel the future is bright for Tonal. Just as Netflix allows people to watch movies and video content without leaving home, Tonal brings all the benefits of a gym into the home. And Netflix didn't kill the movie theater, it just gave people more options. The same goes for Tonal. It won't kill gyms, it just fits a new lifestyle and set of consumer preferences that have been accelerated by the pandemic. We’re looking forward to helping Tonal capitalize on this massive shift taking place in fitness.
Disclaimer: Nothing presented within this article is intended to constitute investment advice, and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures (“Sapphire”). Information provided reflects Sapphires’ views as of a time, whereby such views are subject to change at any point and Sapphire shall not be obligated to provide notice of any change. Companies mentioned in this article are a representative sample of portfolio companies in which Sapphire has invested in which the author believes such companies fit the objective criteria stated in commentary, which do not reflect all investments made by Sapphire. A complete alphabetical list of Sapphire’s investments made by its direct growth and sports investing strategies is available here. No assumptions should be made that investments listed above were or will be profitable. Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events, results or the actual experience may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in these statements. Nothing contained in this article may be relied upon as a guarantee or assurance as to the future success of any particular company. Past performance is not indicative of future results.