- Bosnian fitness tech startup, Rolla, has secured €6.3M in funding, the largest-ever seed investment in a fitness and health startup in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
- The deal is also the biggest in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The round attracts two of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs, both of whom have built billion-dollar businesses from scratch: Mate Rimac, CEO of Rimac Group, and Sacha Dragic, founder of Superbet Group. Dragic joins through his family office, Hellen’s Rock.
This investment is an important milestone not only for Rolla but also for the tech ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans. If the company continues on its growth trajectory, it has the potential to serve as a catalyst for the development of the local ecosystems, similar to the impact Rimac Automobili and UiPath had in Croatia and Romania.
For Rolla, it’s a major step towards the startup’s vision to build a gamified fitness platform that makes it easier for people to live a healthy lifestyle. With the Rolla One app, users get access to customized and adaptive features tailored to individual fitness level, preferences, and goals.
Tackling the silent health crisis
It’s always interesting to see the big founder names in the ecosystem join startups as investors. Mate Rimac is a well-known inventor and entrepreneur who started Rimac Automobili in his garage in 2009. Since then, he grew it to a unicorn who has more than 2,000 employees, a joint venture with Porsche, and the world’s fastest electric hypercar.
For his investment in Rolla he explains: “The two factors that led me to be part of Rolla were Igor Krezić and the importance of health in modern society. I have witnessed which entrepreneurial miracles Igor has created in the past, which are even more impressive considering where and under which circumstances they were built. At the same time, I strongly believe that a data-driven, healthy lifestyle will become ever more important for people around the world. I also see a lack of a proper comprehensive solution for assisting people to live such a healthy lifestyle.”
With 13% of the global population classified as obese, 463 million adults suffering from type 2 diabetes, and heart disease causing 17.3 million annual deaths, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and a neglect of well-being have become silent epidemics robbing millions of their vitality, Rolla states in a press release.
The company aims to position itself against existing solutions which often focus on data collection within closed ecosystems and lack a holistic approach to support health and fitness goals in an engaging way.
Rolla looks to stand apart from existing health and fitness platforms by prioritizing ease of access, creating a low barrier to start, integrating data from connected services, and promoting user inclusivity. This all culminates with the gamified user journey, habits, and goals, providing a comprehensive solution for health and fitness from beginner through intermediate to advanced levels.
“The beauty of our system is in its balance and interplay – the Levels and Effort interact to create a continuous feedback loop, sustaining your engagement and rewarding you for both your everyday steps and long-term achievements. We’re introducing a gamified experience that transcends the norm of data-driven health apps and provides a clear, navigable path towards health and fitness improvement,” Krezic shares.
The resilient founder of Rolla
Rolla founder and CEO Igor Krezic, having once weighed 136 kg and overcome a burnout is intimately familiar with the challenges of staying healthy and not being able to find effective solutions. Having grown up during the 1990s war in the Balkans, since a kid he had to build the resilience required to overcome obstacles. He says that this background motivates him to find the ultimate solution that empowers individuals to take control of their health and live their best lives.
A serial entrepreneur, Krezic has previously founded five companies that collectively generated over 400 jobs and more than 30 million euros in annual revenue. He successfully exited one of them, NSoft, to Sportradar, a NASDAQ-listed company.
Krezic’s dedication is also the leading reason for Sacha Dragic to invest: “The driving force behind my investment in Rolla was the powerful combination of Igor Krezic’s ambitious vision and steadfast dedication. In my experience, such focused determination paired with a transformative vision and a clear market opportunity often sets the stage for remarkable successes. I see Rolla’s product as a powerful tool that can make fitness more accessible to everyone. It has the potential to reshape the fitness industry by creating a more personalized and inclusive approach to health and wellbeing.”
With the newly raised funds and following the positive reception received at Eurobike, one of the largest global trade shows for bike businessess, Rolla now plans to rapidly expand its customer base while growing its product and commercial teams, establishing another regional development hub in Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with a European commercial hub to spearhead its expansion into Western Europe.
The company rolled out beta versions of its Rolla One and Rolla World apps for early adopters earlier this year, quickly attracting thousands of users. The full versions, offering a complete gamified fitness experience, will be ready to launch in Q1 of 2024.