Having booked hundreds of customers for its athletic training platform, Bereda Training of Halifax has closed an initial funding round worth $250,000.
CEO Dennis Cottreau said in an interview last week the company has raised $100,000 from Innovacorp, and the remaining $150,000 from three angel investors it met through the Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic. They are Halifax businessmen Wade Dawe, Tom Hickey and George Armoyan, all of whom are fellows at CDL-Atlantic.
Just as the funding closed, Cottreau and his co-founder Blake Pucsek learned that they had graduated from CDL-Atlantic -- no mean feat, as a significant proportion of the participants are weeded out during the half-year program. Bereda will attend the CDL Super Session in Toronto in June, which will feature graduates from across the country.
The funding round came about, Cottreau said, largely because the company was able to demonstrate that even its initial product has attracted an unexpectedly large number of customers. The number of customers is now “in the hundreds”, he said.
“We launched a significant product update at the start of October and we started running more Facebook ads, and the result we were getting really exceeded our expectations,” he said. “Our product really is quite minimal . . . This was the first product on the way to what we envisage.”
Given that customers paid even for the MVP, Cottreau concluded: “It’s that traction that showed there is a problem to be solved here.”
Bereda Training, which has been a resident in Volta Labs since last summer, has developed an online training platform that automates the training plans that coaches prepare for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc.). It greatly reduces the time it takes for coaches or self-coached athletes to customize the training schedule over the course of a year. It allows them to build highly customized training strategies that can take into account hectic schedules and things like injuries or holidays.
The company grew out of the frustration its founders (both elite athletes) felt with the inflexibility of existing platforms. Cottreau was a semi-professional cyclist for two years and CTO Pucsek was the captain of the Harvard University rowing team.
The reason Cottreau describes the current product as a minimal tool is it only tracks weekly performance. What he and Pucsek are working toward is a platform that allows athletes and coaches to track each workout, then apply that daily data to assess weekly or monthly analyses.
With the money they have now raised, they plan to increase the size of their development team and produce the next-generation product. The goal is to have it out in the autumn.
Meanwhile, Cottreau also wants to expand the marketing channels the company uses. The main channel so far has been ads on Facebook, and he is increasing the business development role to reach customers through other channels.
One interesting facet of the fundraising is that Bereda met its angel investors through CDL-Atlantic. The East Coast offshoot of the University of Toronto startup program is nearing the end of its first cohort. (The last meeting between companies and their mentors in Halifax will be held Thursday, after which the top companies will be selected for a national event in Toronto.)
One goal of the program has been to position its fellows to invest in startups they mentor. That’s starting to bear fruit. Bereda Training and Halifax-based Harbr, which works in predictive analytics for the construction industry, have both announced funding rounds that included investment from CDL-Atlantic fellows.
Cottreau also said the cohort has been a great experience, and he’s glad it was a demanding course that frequently challenged participants.
“In the first round, I think it could have gone a lot better, but it was great because I got to hear all these great mentors and business people,” He said. “Going from Session 1 to Session 2, I got to answer a lot of the fellows’ questions and learned a lot. . . . For that sprint I worked with [investor and mentor] Patrick Hankinson, who continues to provide fantastic mentorship to Bereda.”
Disclosure: Innovacorp and CDL-Atlantic are clients of Entrevestor.