The triathlon community is a tight-knit group and in the case of Roka, it led to a major financial infusion.
The three-year-old company recently closed on a $12 million Series A-1 equity financing. Madrone Capital Partners was the lead investor, and there was also participation from existing investors, according to cofounder Rob Canales. In the past, he has said the company had private Silicone Valley investors.
“This brings our total financing to over $25 million and arms us with the resources we need to continue our product expansion and to reach more people,” he said.
Madrone Capital Partners is a private investment firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., that invests on behalf of members of the Walton family, the founders of Wal-Mart, Canales said. Greg Penner, chairman of Wal-Mart and an accomplished triathlete, led the round, he added. “They invest across industries. In sports, they are also the lead investor in Strava.”
The news of the investment came on the heels of the launch of Roka’s premium technical running apparel collection.
The line is limited to 13 styles designed to provide “true performance, precision fit and unrivaled comfort,” according to the company. The pieces were tested by athletes from around the world to ensure all the needs of runners were addressed. Some highlights include proprietary knit fabrics designed to keep the wear cool; ultralight stretch woven shorts with moisture control; storage solutions, and a wider range of sizes offered than most competitors. A men’s singlet will retail for $65; a short-sleeve T-shirt for $75, and a running short is also $75. In the women’s collection, a singlet is $55; a cap-sleeve T-shirt is $75, and shorts are $70.
Canales and his cofounder Kurt Spenser were both competitive swimmers at Stanford University and launched Roka in 2013 with a wetsuit for triathlon that they believed was superior in its design to others in the market by putting swimmers in the most streamlined body position possible all allows for proper rotation. Last year, Roka set out to become a multisport brand, adding swimwear and cycling apparel. Eyewear is also being introduced this summer. The brand primarily sells direct to consumer on its web site.