Austin-based fitness startup Ladder raised $6.5 million in seed funding, the company announced Tuesday.
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Ladder is a strength training app for users who want the planned workouts, structure and social aspect of a personal trainer without paying the price for one.
The idea for Ladder came together during the first quarter of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, CEO Greg Stewart said in an interview. At the time, the company was focused on the millions of people with gym memberships.
Connected fitness has become popular–especially over the past two years–but most options were focused on casual workouts, not results, Stewart said. Consumers still had to guess their way through a workout or figure out what they should do, depending on the equipment available to them.
“We noticed over and over again that of those who were able to stay consistent over the long run, many were working with a personal trainer,” Stewart said. That’s nice if you can afford it and your schedule matches up with a trainer’s, he said, but that’s not the case for many people.
A personal trainer gives clients the benefits of planned workouts, a coach and the social aspect and accountability. So Ladder set out to accomplish those same goals through its app.
When consumers sign up for Ladder, they complete a series of questions about their fitness experience and programming styles. Then, Ladder recommends three programs within the app. Those programs break out into daily prescribed workouts that refresh every week.
“It’s designed to feel like you have a coach,” Stewart said. “You’re being told what to do every single day.”
Users join a team that’s led by a coach, and every Sunday Ladder makes the workouts for the week available. If a user’s goals change, they can switch to a different team or program.
Ladder also incorporates the social side of personal training with a platform in which members can discuss workouts, exchange recipes and connect with each other.
Ladder has 15 employees and will use the seed funding to grow its team and roll out new programs. The company has seven programs available now, and will be introducing a handful in January as well. Users can start with a free trial before paying a monthly fee (a monthly subscription is $59/month, but users can opt for three- or six-month memberships that come out to $49/month or $39/month, respectively).
The company declined to disclose its total funding or valuation. In terms of growth, Stewart said its user base expansion has been organic and that it has grown to thousands of paying members on the app since Ladder launched in July 2020. Of Ladder’s member base, users complete an average of four workouts a week.
“We built a solution with our coaches that could make us competitive and compelling regardless of where the consumer was working out,” Stewart said.
LivWell Ventures led the round, with participation from Keller Capital, former Bazaarvoice CEO Brett Hurt, NFL wide receiver Danny Amendola, and Athletic Brewing CEO Bill Shufelt.
“The fitness landscape is changing, and consumers are now more mobile than ever when it comes to where they workout,” LivWell Ventures founder Doss Cunningham said in an email. “As a mobile-first product focused on strength, we think Ladder is well positioned for where we see the fitness and the broader wellness industry heading.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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