Former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong always thought the Tour de France would be the greatest endurance challenge of his life. But that was before he set out to raise money for his investment firm: Next Ventures.
“This has been an incredibly time-consuming, but rewarding undertaking,” Armstrong told Built In. “The great news is that we are halfway through the race with very strong momentum, and I know that we will achieve our objectives for the firm and for our portfolio companies.”
On Friday, Armstrong’s Austin-based firm submitted a regulatory filing indicating that it has closed $24.5 million — the first leg in its pursuit of a $75 million fund. The funds will be used to fuel Series A and Series B investments in companies within the sports, fitness, wellness and nutrition markets.
Armstrong launched Next Ventures in 2018 with general partner Lionel Conacher. Both founders draw on an extensive history in athletics entrepreneurialism. The world-famous cyclist made his first investment ever in 2009, writing a $100,000 check to Uber — then a fledgling startup — through Lowercase Capital, according to TechCrunch.
Not only does a product have to work, but it has to provide a great user experience.”
The opportunity to help entrepreneurs meshed well with Armstrong’s experience in endurance athletics, the cyclist told Built In.
“From personal experience, I know that success comes from talent and hard work; talent is never enough,” Armstrong said. “One of the reasons I love endurance athletics is that it takes mental strength and strong resilience to succeed, and I believe both of those are also key to successful entrepreneurs.”
Conacher, for his part, is a life-long multi-sport athlete and outdoorsman with more than 30 years experience in capital markets, according to his bio.
When it comes to investing, the firm draws from those experiences to find companies that aim to optimize human performance, Armstrong said. His experience as an athlete and as host of the podcast THEMOVE has helped the firm tap into a deep source of those opportunities.
Armstrong also often tests products to see if it performs as intended.
“When it comes to the intersection point between athletics and innovation, I have decades of expertise when it comes to judging good products,” Armstrong said. “Not only does a product have to work, but it has to provide a great user experience.”
This came in handy for Next Ventures’ latest investment in the seed round of Amp Human, announced today. The company produces produces an electrolyte lotion called PR Lotion that is designed to be absorbed into the skin to neutralize acid buildup in muscles during workouts. Armstrong said he was able to road test it and offer a few pointers before the firm decided to move ahead on their investment.
Next Ventures made its first investment in January to PowerDot, a company that provides an app-based muscle stimulation device. The firm has since invested in five other companies, including Amp Human.
As part of the investment in Amp Human, Conacher joined its board. The round represents the types of companies Next Ventures aims to invest in, Armstrong said in a statement about the round.
“Our firm is focused on investing in innovative products that solve a universal fitness need and PR Lotion is an excellent example of a breakthrough product that solves a major problem for the mass-market athlete as well as for the elite competitive athlete,” he said.