As competition heats up in the at-home fitness industry, a new startup is entering the ring. Launching today, Liteboxer offers an at-home sparring partner, incorporating LED-illuminated targets, force sensors and a bit of design inspiration from Alien vs. Predator.
Liteboxer was co-founded by engineer Jeffrey Morin and venture capitalist Todd Dagres, who also happens to be a boxing enthusiast. “I started boxing about 17 years ago,” Dagres said. “I was doing it for exercise mainly, and I had a hardcore instructor, and I loved it.” But Dagres only had the instructor once a week and struggled to replicate the experience at home before eventually deciding, I’ve got to build this thing. He connected with Morin three years ago.
Customers of all experience levels will have complete access to a catalog of training sessions for $29 per month. Liteboxer is also set up for shorter exercises synced with a library of music, as well as punching competitions with friends. The hardware retails for $1,495.
Liteboxer is backed by former NFL linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski’s early-stage fund, Will Ventures. Other investors include Celtics owner Jim Pallotta’s Raptor Capital and USA Rugby board member Paul Santinelli. It has raised a total of $6 million so far.
Videos of Liteboxer in action first started popping up at last year’s PAX East gaming convention, where people lined up to test an earlier version of the machine. “There were probably about a million punches thrown over four days,” Morin said. “We were originally not sure if we were going to have challenges, but having two devices side by side and seeing people putting on the gloves to challenge their friends, you could see the sparkle in their eyes. They became someone else.”
The company’s unveiling comes at a time of historic interest in at-home fitness devices. Peloton has led the way, with a stock price now more than double its pre-pandemic levels, while fitness startup Mirror recently sold for $500 million to Lululemon. Even if gymgoing bounces back in a post-coronavirus world, Kacyvenski was long on connected fitness before COVID-19 and sees an opportunity for in-home boxing equipment in particular for one simple reason: Punching is fun.
“There’s something very primal and instinctual in it,” he said. “It’s pretty great to punch something and get that stress out, and there are very few things you can do that with.”
Beyond boxing diehards, Liteboxer is hoping to attract a different set of more casual consumers. Rather than trying to replicate a piece of gym equipment or the feeling of a workout class, the team has focused on building an entirely new experience with a mix of light and sound, nothing to strap into, and social features drawn from the gaming world.
“Most connected fitness devices are copy-and-pasted from the gym,” Morin said. “They throw a screen on it and call it connected. We’re born in the home.”