IVCA Feature: Anatomy of an Investment... KB Partners Announces Additional Funding of asensei, Inc.

December 5, 2018

On November 14th, 2018, KB Partners – one of the newest members of the IVCA based in Highland Park, Illinois – announced a $2 million dollar investment that was made earlier this year in asensei, Inc., a Connected Coaching™ company specializing in digital sports and smart apparel. The company has raised just under $3 million to date.

As part of an ongoing series from the IVCA, the “Anatomy of an Investment” goes beyond the press release to get a comprehensive overview of the origins, inside machinations and reasoning behind the strategy employed by KB Partners in their investment relationship with asensei. KB Partners focuses on early stage venture capital investments. The firm is currently investing out of KB Partners Myriad Opportunity Fund, which invests in “passionate innovators at the intersection of sports and technology.”

Founded in 2014, asensei is democratizing access to world-class sport coaching, to allow athletes of all abilities to follow programs led by both top athletes and coaches, in the sport of their choosing. Using real-time feedback, asensei is changing the way aspiring athletes practice sport and fitness, by letting them progress along their own path as they follow coaching programs from a variety of resources.

The IVCA reached out to KB Partners, through Investment Professional Lance Dietz, to get a behind-the-scenes overview of the asensei investment process with the company.

IVCA: What is the origin of your relationship with asensei, Inc.? Was KB Partners proactive in establishing the initial relationship or was there another circumstance regarding the connection?

KB Partners: We were introduced to the CEO of asensei through a contact at the Sports and Fitness Industry Association [SFIA.org], a trade organization of leading industry sports and fitness brands, suppliers, retailers and partners. asensei participated in the SFIA’s Startup Challenge in 2017, showcasing its Connected Coaching technology and platform. When we announced our new fund focused on the intersection of sports and technology earlier this year, our SFIA contact quickly saw the overlap and potential for a partnership with asensei and made the introduction.

It’s a great example of our broad network in the sports and tech industry – we’ve been fortunate enough to build up relationships with organizations like the SFIA over the years who provide referrals, insights, partnerships, and investment opportunities for us and our portfolio companies.

IVCA: The trademark 'Connected Coaching' is registered by asensei. What product or service is associated with this trademark and how is KB Partners invested in that idea? 

KB Partners: Connected Coaching goes beyond traditional digital fitness trends of pre-recorded classes and counting steps, miles, etc. by monitoring an athlete’s movements and performance in real time and offering personalized and specific coaching insights. This is all done seamlessly via the asensei app and Bluetooth-connected headphones, and is further enabled by smart (sensor-equipped) clothing. The technology is able to recognize when a movement is performed incorrectly and then give actionable coaching to correct the movement and overall performance.

Additionally, the technology will introduce new pieces of coaching content into a workout based on the athlete’s current performance in real time. Over time, asensei uses an athlete’s past performance to suggest new workouts and training programs, coaching the athlete over a period of time toward a specific goal. asensei is a great example of the intersection of sports and technology and a clear fit for our new fund.

IVCA: What other potential do you foresee for this tech application?

KB Partners: We also think there is a broader application of this type of technology outside of sports – eventually, asensei could be assisting industrial/manufacturing work by monitoring certain assembly processes, helping trainers monitor physical therapy patients, and much more.

IVCA: In the firm's mission statement, there is an emphasis on win/win. In the asensei investment, where do you specifically see that win/win being successfully expressed?

KB Partners: When evaluating an investment opportunity, we place a lot of emphasis on the founders and management team – we see the investment as the beginning of a long-term partnership and want to make sure everyone is aligned. We spent a lot of time with the asensei management team and were very impressed with their coaching experience, professional success, team cohesiveness, and passion for the company.

Additionally, we sincerely liked them as individuals. As part of the investment, we worked closely with the management team to agree on investment terms and structure that everyone thought were fair and incentivizing. It is important for us that the founders feel they have the opportunity to realize significant financial gains if they are successful in building an outstanding company, and we came to an agreement where that is possible. Additionally, we look forward to introducing asensei to our network of partners and investors who will also be part of helping the company reach its goals.

For more information on KB Partners, go to www.KBPartners.com  To link to the Press Release announcement for KB Partners and asensei, Inc., click here.