27 Sep Asics Funds Five Startups Under Tenkan-Ten Inititiatve
Asics announced five start-ups to benefit from Tenkan-Ten, the growth catalyst program for businesses disrupting the sports and wellbeing sector. It is a part of the company’s recently launched new business and innovations division.
The five ambitious start-ups–varying from smart fabrics to artificial intelligence and motion capturing apps–were selected from around the world based on their innovative products and services and commitment to inspiring movement in line with ASICS’ founding philosophy of Anima Sana In Corpore Sano–A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.
The program was announced in March, and it is a part of Asics group’s growth plan for 2020 which promotes sustainable growth and has a target of reaching the net sales of US $7 billion by 2020.
One of the businesses selected to benefit from the Tenkan-Ten programme, a Japanese expression for Tipping Point, is Pyrates. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, by Spanish entrepreneur, Regina Polanco, the sustainable clothing company offers high-end performance streetwear with a difference. Through its Pyratex smart fabric technology, the clothing combines protein from organic agricultural vegetation with 17 kinds of amino acids to create an innovative yarn.
Polanca’s idea stemmed from when she was living in Switzerland in 2014, where she noticed the popularity of ’90s fashion trends and sportswear among young people. The company’s Pyratex technology uses exclusively natural fibres such as bamboo and seaweed. These are then transformed into wearable yarns which can provide unique health benefits such as muscle relaxation, improved blood circulation and skin cell regeneration, according to the company.
Since its founding, Pyrates has received recognition from international clothing brands such as Adidas and Chanel, as well as winning numerous awards within the fashion tech industry, including first place at the Look Forward Fashion Tech contest last year. Pyrates is now looking to expand globally into both B2C and B2B markets and sees Tenkan-Ten as the perfect program to aid its growth.
“Tenkan-Ten is exactly what Pyrates needs to move to the next level and become a strong company, acquiring more visibility as a textile pioneer thanks to its association with a brand renowned for innovation and quality,” said CEO, Regina Polanca.
The other four selected businesses are:
- Runnin’ City: created in 2016 in France by two passionate sportsmen, Olivier Lebleu and Christophe Minodier in Lyon, the fitness discovery app allows users to explore cities while running. Used by a community of 50,000 runners and available in over 150 cities worldwide, the app offers vocal GPS to guide runners on routes through new and exciting places.
- Curv: Canadian Shea Balish developed Curv in 2018 as a software that transforms the camera on mobile devices into a motion capture tool. Using AI technology, the software allows everyday athletes to transform their mobile device into a diagnostic tool to understand, track and analyse their movements through videos and images.
- A-Champs: founded in 2016 by CEO Kilian Saekel, the North American company has created a real-life gaming system to ensure children are kept active and healthy by presenting exercise as ‘play.’ Using Bluetooth sensors, the console promotes children playing video games ‘on the move.’
- Entrenarme: founded in 2014 in Spain by a Spanish fitness duo, Diego Moya and Sebastian Borreani, the online platform helps people find their ideal training environment. Priding itself on practicality and ease of use, Entrenarme allows users to search for trainers and gyms closest to them whilst also being able to compare prices and availability.
All applicants will receive a complementary wellbeing service as part of the program.
The start-up program will last four months, from September 2018 until January 2019, with each company working directly from Asics’ Innovation Centre in the heart of Barcelona. Each business will receive EUR 30,000 in financial support to benefit their project as well as direct access to senior Asics and partner executives including Alistair Cameron, CEO of Asics EMEA; Carsten Unbehaun, CEO of Haglöfs and Dan Smith, president and GM of Asics Digital.
Alongside this and as a commitment to Asics’ ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body’ philosophy, all applicants will receive a complementary wellbeing service including personal trainer sessions and nutrition plans. Following the four-month program period they will also benefit from being part of the Asics Alumni Membership Program, which will continue supporting their growth through Asics’ partnerships with ACCIÓ, Barcelona Tech City and the Global Sports Innovation Centre powered by Microsoft.
“We are extremely excited to announce the first set of businesses to benefit from the Tenkan-Ten program. Not only does each business share our ambition to get the world moving, they also reflect Asics’ focus on innovative new services, products, technologies, business models and consumer experiences to drive innovation, learning and expertise in the health and wellbeing sector. We can’t wait to see the results in 2019,” commented Daniel Dümig, new business and innovation manager of Asics EMEA and leader of the Tenkan-Ten program.