In 2018, Berkeley computer science grads Asaf Avidan Antonir and James Sha were often at the gym, wondering why personal trainers and classes were so expensive and why it was so difficult to track individual physical performances in any workouts other than running and cycle.
The two fitness buffs were aware that there already were companies tackling the connected fitness field, like Peloton, Mirror, or Tonal, yet recognized they all shared one weakness.
“All of them offered a lot to their users, but the one thing they had in common is that they’re all very expensive,” Antonir says. “Our goal was to make the trainer and the studio experience really accessible to anyone in the world.”
So, Antonir and Sha teamed up and started Onyx, a fitness app that uses on device computer vision to bring the training experience to the mass market. Onyx functions using the camera on a person’s smartphone and 3D motion capture system for movement tracking, to be able to count reps, correct the form of the person working out, and create tailored workouts that are personalized in real time. It operates on a freemium model, with the basic version available to everyone who signs up.
Earlier this month, Onyx was looking for investors to raise a seed round, after it had raised a $1 million pre-seed in 2018. Instead, it got acquired by Indian fitness company Curefit for an undisclosed amount.
“Curefit approached us when we were fundraising for a seed round, we had some offers on the table but they made us an offer that made a lot of sense,” Antonir, who served as Onyx’s CEO, says. “They share the same vision of who we want to cater to, the accessibility that we’re focused on and the vision for the product experience, offering us lot more resources with a larger team.”
In the six months leading up to the acquisition, Onyx was seeing 50% growth MoM in revenue and subscriber base, a lot of it driven by the higher demand for at-home workouts in the last year due to the pandemic. At the time it got acquired, Onyx had roughly 300,000 signed up users.
Antonir, who moved to the U.S. from Israel with his family when he was seven, met Sha at his second computer science class at UC Berkeley, and the two became project partners for almost every class. Sha, whose parents came to the U.S. from China and who was a computer vision researcher at the Berkeley AI Lab, after graduation interned at Facebook and worked at Google. Antonir, on the other hand, interned at Microsoft and LinkedIn and worked at software company Illumio before starting the company. This year, due to their success with Onyx, the two made the Under 30 Consumer Technology list.
Shamik Sharma, head of digital initiatives at Cure.Fit, says that the company will be keeping the Onyx app, and it will merge the technologies.
“We are merging much of the Onyx technology for rep counting and nudging about what they could do better, which we will incorporate into the Curefit digital classes,” Sharma says. “At the same time, there will be some aspects of the Curefit digital ID that we will be integrating into the Onyx app, though both apps will continue to exist.”