Chattanooga-based Echelon Fitness lands entertainer Pitbull as investor

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Jul. 3—Chattanooga-based Echelon Fitness, seeing strong demand during the pandemic for its stationary bikes and other products, has landed entertainer Pitbull as an investor and collaborator.

"He's very engaged, truly an investor and not just a hired celebrity," said Lou Lentine, Echelon's founder and chief executive officer.

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, has written a dedicated anthem song for Echelon to be released on his new album and heard in his upcoming "I Feel Good" tour, according to the fitness company.

"When he shared the song with me, it was such a moment," Lentine told the Times Free Press last week. "I was sitting on a yacht in Miami. He starts dancing and singing the song to me. It's perfect. You need a fun, pump-you-up song."

Echelon also plans to offer an exclusive, co-branded bike along with merchandise centered around the launch of Grammy award winner Pitbull's Timeless album. In addition, a special dedicated "Ride with Pitbull" content channel including his music and dancers will appear.

And Echelon will engage with Pitbull's educational learning centers called SLAM! by offering internships and college scholarships.

Lentine said the company has other celebrity investors, but nothing to the magnitude of Pitbull.

Pitbull will be filming a music video this week in Miami Beach that will include Echelon instructors as well as its bike, treadmill and rower, Lentine said.

"He's a visionary," Lentine said, adding that Pitbull has become a NASCAR investor.

Pitbull said he's looking forward to producing new avenues for music and fitness.

"Music is the universal language. Fitness is a cultural movement. Together we will create a powerful generation," he said in a statement.

Last December, Echelon announced it had raised $65 million in new financing from Goldman Sachs Growth with participation from North Castle Partners to spur the company's expansion goals

Lentine said Echelon has started moving into its new headquarters in Chattanooga's downtown's Liberty Tower, where the company is taking two floors.

He said Echelon has hired former Discovery Golf and DirecTV executive Alex Kaplan as president, a post formerly held by Lentine.

The Echelon CEO said the company has brought in more than 25 people from out of town to Chattanooga.

Lentine said the company now has 85 employees in Chattanooga among its total of 250, not including 140 dedicated workers at its call center.

"Business is amazing," he said. Lentine projects revenues will be up 25% in 2021 over 202o, when it experienced about 1,000% growth. While he wouldn't give a revenue dollar figure, the official said membership is growing at about 50%.

Echelon has opened a 70,000-square-foot warehouse in Chattanooga and added ones in Nevada and California to keep up with product demand, Lentine said.

He said Echelon is eyeing the merger and acquisitions market for the company.

"There could be something happening in that realm soon," Lentine said. "There are a lot opportunities in fitness."

He said other companies have filed registration forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in anticipation of an initial public offering or have already gone public.

Echelon has climbed from a startup venture to become a major player in the exercise space in just four years.

Lentine, a serial inventor and promoter from New Jersey who brought his Viatek Consumer Products company to Chattanooga in 2011, created Echelon in 2017 to provide what he called a more affordable stationary bike with the tracking and interactive features of Peloton and other higher-priced rivals.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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