Rowan Innovation Venture Fund invests second $100,000 in alum’s business

Rowan Innovation Venture Fund invests second $100,000 in alum’s business

Share

Working out is potential big business for Nicholas Dennis.

The Rowan University Innovation Venture Fund is right beside him as he grows that business. For the second time in little more than a year, the Fund has invested $100,000 in Dennis’ company, fitDEGREE.

The fitDEGREE CEO and co-founder, a 23-year-old native of Morris County who now resides in Gloucester County near his team, dubbed their creation “The Social Network for the Fitness Community.”

fitDEGREE provides a social media platform to connect members to their fitness center. The iOS- and Android-compatible app is free to end users; however, fitness centers are charged a monthly fee.

The $5-million Fund, under the auspices of the Rowan University Foundation, awarded fitDEGREE and a second business the Fund’s first-ever grants last September, when Dennis and his team were still completing their undergraduate degrees in mathematics and computer science at Rowan University.

In October, the Fund awarded fitDEGREE the second grant, the first such move it has made in its two-year history. The Rowan University Foundation’s Technology/New Venture Development Committee, comprising seasoned business leaders, oversees the Fund. Long-time venture capital and angel investor Howard Lubert manages the Fund.

Dennis and his team also were able to raise an additional $25,000 investment from a Cherry Hill resident whose son works with the fitDEGREE founder.

fitDEGREE is now live at Rowan University’s Rec Center and is currently in talks with other colleges and major gyms.

“It’s in a recreation center’s best interest for its marketing efforts to use a mobile app, because that’s what millennials are accustomed to,” said Dennis, who worked in a rec center during his undergraduate years.

What started as a kind of a “matchmaker” for people seeking workout partners has morphed even further. Integrating suggestions from rec center and health club professionals he’s met at conferences, trade shows and elsewhere, Dennis has, for instance, incorporated means for fitness centers to display their operating hours, current class schedule and live occupancy levels and to post announcements for special events and more.

“We are able to customize the app to the fitness center’s needs while creating engagement with social features,” he said. “Want to know what classes your friends are going to? fitDEGREE will show you that. Curious as to just how full the free weight room is? The app can reveal that as well.”

Growth is imminent. “Although we’re confident in what we have today, we are always taking in feedback to increase the value of our product,” the entrepreneur said.

Dennis said he will use the latest investment to continue product development while expanding the firm’s customer portfolio.

Noted Tony Calabrese, chairman of the Fund’s Board of Managers and a member of the Rowan University Foundation’s Board of Directors, “fitDEGREE shows great potential to expand, and it is highly compatible with the Venture Fund’s goals to accelerate the growth of Rowan research and foster initiatives by South Jersey residents and companies.”

The Fund accepts applications on a rolling basis. For more information, visit www.rowan.edu/venturefund or contact Howard Lubert at HLubert@RowanVentureFund.com.