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Business deals

SoftBank backs Brazilian fitness startup Gympass

Wellness platform works with companies to get their employees 'off the couch'

People jog during a warm day in Central Park, New York. Gympass works with corporations to allow their employees have monthly access to local gyms and fitness programs.    © Reuters

NEW YORK -- SoftBank Group's Vision Fund is venturing into the fitness world with gym membership startup Gympass.

Self-proclaimed to be the largest corporate wellness platform, the Brazilian startup on Wednesday said it has partnered with SoftBank Vision Fund and SoftBank Latin America Fund to expand globally. The company has grown across 14 countries in Latin America, North America and Europe, with a network of 46,800 gyms.

"Our valued fitness partners are the foundation of our diverse, flexible, and convenient program," Gympass co-founder and CEO Cesar Carvalho said in a statement. "We believe this partnership will enable us to bring our solution to more organizations around the world, revolutionizing the way that employees engage in physical activity."

Founded in 2012, Gympass connects corporate employees with local gyms and fitness centers. The company has worked with over 2,000 corporations such as Unilever, Tesco and Activision Blizzard to offer their employees unlimited monthly passes to partner gyms worldwide. Employees have access to a range of classes and activities, from yoga, pilates and martial arts to dance and CrossFit. Customers can find a gym included in their plan and check in using the Gympass app.

This comes as the Japanese conglomerate aims to disrupt the tourism industry. SoftBank in May led a $484 million investment in German activity booker GetYourGuide, Nikkei reported. The startup operates a platform that lets users book activities like theme park tickets and tours as well as transportation. GetYourGuide said it has sold over 25 million tickets since it launched.

SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund holds shares in some of the biggest names in the tech world, including American ride-hailing giant Uber and office rental service WeWork. The fund is backed by the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. SoftBank's $5 billion Latin America Fund also participated in Gympass' funding.

"More people are leading healthier lives thanks to Gympass, and we're thrilled to work with Cesar and the team to accelerate their strategy in Latin America and beyond," said Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Latin America Fund, in a statement. "There are few companies as successful as Gympass in making the transition to a global champion, and we're excited for what the future holds."

General Atlantic, Atomico and Valor Capital Group are the current investors of Gympass, the company said. Neither Atomico nor Valor Capital Group immediately responded to a request for comment. General Atlantic declined to comment.

With the new investment, Gympass said it will provide universal access for all employees across corporations to participate in activity programs, enhance its technology to offer more personalized user experience and motivate company employees to get off the couch. The startup will attract new users and gym partners globally as well.

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