The company making exercise hot


You could be forgiven for missing the craze around Peloton, a 'smart' exercise tech company that seemingly rose to fame out of nowhere, hocking $4,300 treadmills and $2,400 exercise bikes that come with subscription models. It, almost single-handedly, has revived a largely neglected space: exercise at home.

Peloton was founded in 2012, and has raised almost $1 billion in capital from investors, with simple but transformative positioning: building ultra-smart, actually fun to use exercise equipment for the home. 

The smarts in those machines is what really seems to make them stick: buyers can do live classes, in high definition, on its built in touch-based LCD screen, as well as a dizzying array of customized pre-recorded routines. The transformative part of this—for the business model at least—is the $39 per month subscription service, which is all but required to get the most out of the machine.

By building the machine, and a 'habit-loop' with live classes/high quality content, Peloton essentially can get endless, addictive revenue out of users... who swear by their devices and become complete fanatics when it sticks. 

The people I know who have one have transformed themselves where they weren't interested in exercise before, and that's fairly impressive (public reviews back up this enthusiasm too). One could argue that making running and cycling a truly luxury good is awful, but bringing fitness to more people is good regardless of cost.

Yes, they're made for the wealthy, definitely, and their products are targeted at a very particular, deep-pocketed demographic, but it appears to be working as the company gets ready to go public so early. We don't know the terms of the IPO yet, but it's joining the rush to IPO with three high-end pieces of hardware now available (including the recently released 'smart mirror').

Given that Peloton has two revenue streams, both in up-front purchases/recurring revenue, a fanatic fan base, and it's yet to venture out of North America at all, the details of its financials will either be outright awful or refreshingly profitable. Stay tuned!

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