Canadian smart sport bra maker gets $10 million to take on fitness giants
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO (Reuters) - A small Canadian company has raised $10 million to take on Nike Inc (NKE.N: Quote), Under Armour Inc (UA.N: Quote) and others with a sensor-rich sports bra its chief executive says is more useful than a smart watch and more comfortable than a heart rate monitor.
Montreal-based OMsignal hopes the funding round, led by Relay Ventures, will help it turn two years of development and a waiting list of 10,000 women into solid online sales for the bra, which uses silver-based fabric to read biometric signals including heart and breath rate and went on sale on Monday.
"Your heart and your lung are not in your wrist," the company's Chief Executive Stephane Marceau said when asked what set the product apart from the wide array of wearable fitness products already on the market.
"Under Armour tried to do a smart shirt ... and they never could bring it to market," he added. "It's very difficult to do this type of product well."
The OMbra will be sold online and at a small number of stores, mostly in and around Montreal. The bra and detachable recording module will cost $169. Additional bras will cost $69.
The bra connects to an app which can also measure distance, pace, breathing rhythm, and fatigue levels during workouts.
The app will only be available on Apple devices at launch, an Android version is expected in the first half of 2017.
Other backers include Bessemer Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures, Real Ventures, Investissement Quebec, and Export Development Canada.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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