Mind, Body, & Cash: Lighter Living Raises $3M

11/20/09

Pilates is famous for shaping up peoples’ buttocks, tummies, and thighs. But what can the popularity of this fitness phenomenon and the market for health products do for investment portfolios? Cambridge, MA-based Lighter Living, which operates a health and fitness website that features Pilates expert and company founder Marjolein Brugman, has raised $3 million in an equity round of financing, according to an SEC filing.

Brugman, who appears to have pioneered an aerobic version of Pilates called AeroPilates, is listed in the regulatory filing as an executive and director of Lighter Living. There’s also a big name in venture investing involved with the firm: Michael Greeley, a founder and general partner of Boston-based venture firm Flybridge Capital Partners, who is listed as a director of Lighter Living. Neither Brugman nor Greeley was immediately available for comment this morning, but a spokeswoman for Flybridge confirmed that the firm is backing the company.

At first glance Lighter Living—which sells fitness and wellness products and offers health tips and insights from Brugman on its website—doesn’t seem like a typical bet for Greeley. However, he’s always told me that he is interested in businesses in which healthcare and information technology intersect. Previously, his interest in healthcare and IT has been manifest in investments he has led for Flybridge in companies such as Bedford, MA-based MicroCHIPS, a developer of micro-devices for medical uses, and business software firm BlueTarp Financial, of Portland, ME.

Yet Lighter Living does address a huge market demand for products that help people look and feel youthful, and there is an emerging trend of interest in this market among venture capitalists. Polaris Venture Partners is backing Cambridge, MA-based Living Proof, a provider of hair-care products based on advances in polymer science at MIT and other research institutions. Investments in the likes of Living Proof and Lighter Living could provide a boost for both consumers’ looks and venture portfolios’ outlooks.

Flybridge’s investment in Lighter Living is “building on [Brugman's] success in the healthy living market,” said Kate Castle, a spokeswoman for the venture firm. She said that Brugman has sold more than $500 million in healthy living products on the TV shopping channel QVC over the past 12 years.

Lighter Living is planning an official launch in 2010, Castle said.

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