Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading middle market investment firm founded in 1961, has made a ‘significant investment in Wahoo Fitness’. The transaction closed on June 30th, 2018; financial terms were not disclosed.
Founded in 2010 by CEO Chip Hawkins, Wahoo has grown to be a key player with its connected devices for training, competing and simplifying exercise. Wahoo’s portfolio of products includes the KICKR family of indoor cycling trainers, the ELEMNT family of cycling computers, and the TICKR family of heart rate monitors.
Wahoo products are sold in over 50 countries through leading retailers as well as through the company’s own direct-to-consumer website, wahoofitness.com. The Wahoo brand has tied up with a number of elite athletes around the world, including 6-time Tour de France winner – Team Sky; 2-time IRONMAN Champion – Jan Frodeno; and current UCI world champion cyclist – Peter Sagan (Team Bora-Hansgrohe).
Tim DeVries, NEP Managing Partner, said, “Wahoo represents a highly reputable brand in the evolving fitness technology space through its ecosystem of category-leading products. Chip Hawkins and his team have generated impressive growth during Wahoo’s short history, and their work has positioned the company for continued growth not only within its current offerings but also through additional products and channels in the near future. NEP is fortunate to partner with the Wahoo team, and we view this opportunity as a great fit with our active lifestyle investment platform.”
NEP’s investment marks the first time Wahoo has partnered with an institutional investor. “We are excited to work with an investment partner like NEP,” said Chip Hawkins, Wahoo Founder & CEO. “Our partnership with NEP is a direct reflection of the success we have built to date, and we are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead with their team by our side. We are confident our partnership with NEP will help us achieve our next phase of growth.”
In addition to extensive experience partnering with founder-owned businesses, NEP has built a broad active lifestyle portfolio through focused industry investments, including Life Time Fitness, Movati Athletic, The Edge Fitness, Christy Sports, and Bowtech.
As part of NEP’s breadth of resources, Wahoo will work closely with Mike Gerend and Mark Thom, NEP dedicated operating partners and active lifestyle industry veterans, who bring relevant experience across fitness, consumer, and technology companies. In addition to helping source and evaluate investment opportunities for NEP, Gerend and Thom ‘play an active role in strategic planning, business growth, and corporate governance for portfolio companies.’
Mark Thom said, “Wahoo has always been a creative force at the centre of where fitness and technology collide and they are only just getting started. NEP is excited to partner with Wahoo’s team of passionate Wahooligans – cycling, running, and triathlon enthusiasts who love the Wahoo brand – to help shape strategy and accelerate the global growth of the business.”
In tandem with the transaction, Wahoo announced multiple new product releases, including a new version of its KICKR Smart Trainer that is ‘more powerful and virtually silent’, a new wheel-off KICKR CORE Smart Trainer, and the all-new KICKR HEADWIND, an innovative smart fan product that connects to the Wahoo KICKR and sensors and delivers a powerful, realistic headwind up to 30 mph.
Baird advised Wahoo on the transaction, and Winston & Strawn provided legal services for NEP.