Short track speed skating star Apolo Ohno stole hearts over the course of three Winter Olympic Games, during which he became the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time. He has won eight Olympic medals, 12 national championships, a World Championship, and a World Cup as part of his athletic career, and is credited with launching the speed skating sport into mainstream popularity.
Ohno has since taken his skill and determination to entrepreneurship as a successful sports broadcaster, television personality, motivational speaker, angel investor, New York Times bestselling author, and winner of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. He invested in Brrrn, a New York City–based cold workout program, to help the brand launch its first direct-to-consumer product and at-home workout platform. Dubbed the Brrrn Board, the easy-to-store slide board enables workouts that echo techniques Ohno trained with during his speed skating years and reinforces his passion for inclusivity in the fitness space.
- Startup: Brrrn
- Location: New York City
- Year founded: 2018
- Valuation: $15 million
- Investment level: Seed
- Number of employees: 10
- Other major investors: Steve Schlesinger of Schlesinger Group, Rick Treese of WebMD, Taylor Grant of Cedar Capital, Barry Slotnick of UltraSlide, celebrity hairstylist Orlando Pita
Why he invested, in his own words
I’m learning to apply the same focus and discipline that brought me athletic success to companies that are transforming our everyday lives. I want my partnerships to have a meaningful impact and feel authentic to consumers. I love supporting companies that are hungry to make an impact on people. It’s especially exciting when I have the ability to invest in something that I truly believe in like Brrrn.
I’ve been training on a slide board since I was 12 years old, and it has helped me become a successful athlete. Lateral movement is the most overlooked and underutilized area of training that many people don’t normally take advantage of. Athletes, including myself, utilize a slide board as an integral part of their training to help activate muscles we don’t typically activate in a standard workout. Through the power of “side-to-side” training, you can focus on a new type of movement that improves core strength, balance, coordination, and muscular endurance.
The Brrrn Board is a lightweight slide board designed to fit perfectly into any home or workout routine. It is an incredibly versatile low-tech, at-home solution for those seeking a low-impact cardio workout. In an age where we are constantly distracted by gadgets, workouts, meal plans, and more, this tool allows us to focus and retrain our body.
Upon introduction [to the founders], I knew being a part of this brand would be a “no-brainer.” I admire their humility, ability to be inclusive, and desire to do good for the fitness community. Brrrn’s founders, Jimmy T. Martin and Johnny Adamic, are very passionate about bringing this new movement to the masses, homing in on low-tech and accessibility for everybody. Brrrn is a company that represents both innovation and inclusiveness in the fitness industry; I want to back those who have the same vision.
I am thrilled to be a partner who can contribute a personal testament to how functional this product is, too. With a schedule as hectic as mine, I’ve grown so passionate for at-home fitness, and Brrrn has significantly changed the way that I work out at home. I want to reach a new audience of consumers looking for an at-home workout that can provide athletic success and to help spread the message on how impactful it can be to just get up and move right at home.
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This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.