Vancouver-based startup Stoko, makers of a new category of professional knee brace support called supportive apparel, recently announced that they have raised $6 million in seed funding from multiple sources, including some of Canada’s top industry investors.
Stoko founder and CEO Zack Eberwien explained that the funding will help the company grow while staying focused on helping athletes heal or prevent injuries.
“This funding will fuel our expansion efforts as we carve out a new category in retail, focused on supporting athletes in returning to play after an injury or preventing one altogether,” said Eberwien in a release.
“Our product is revolutionary in that it gives athletes the confidence to do the sports and activities they love in comfortable apparel that’s as effective as a medical-grade knee brace.”
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Investors in Stoko include John Currie, former CFO of lululemon; Darrell Kopke, CEO of Adelhard (formerly CEO of Kit and Ace and first GM of lululemon); Greg Malpass CEO of Traction on Demand; Norm Francis, CEO of Boardwalk Ventures; and Paul Geyer, CEO of Discovery Parks and Nimbus Synergies.
Stoko’s first product is the K1, which is designed and manufactured in Vancouver. The K1 is described as “the future of knee support” and combines traditional knee brace support along with the comfort of a compression tight.
Eberwein, a mechanical engineer by training, co-founded Stoko in 2017 after he experienced an acute knee injury during an extreme hike challenge. He made the split-second decision to leave his bulky, rigid medical knee brace behind, which ultimately led him down the path to discovering a better way to support athletes through their injuries.
Since launching its first product in October 2020, Stoko has seen double-digit month-over-month growth. The startup uses a direct-to-consumer and business-to-business model to gain an industry advantage. The K1 is available for purchase online, at specialty stores like Kintec Footwear, Paris Orthotics, Myodetox in Vancouver, LA and Toronto and Pivotal Physiotherapy in Edmonton. Stoko is also eligible for medical coverage by a number of healthcare providers.
Top Canadian athletes have also joined Stoko’s leadership team, including Olympian gymnast Scott Morgan, a co-founder, and Olympian skier Allison Forsyth who heads up brand and community.
“Stoko’s proprietary technology addresses a real need that exists and disrupts the competition that has long been stagnant,” said John Currie, the former CFO of lululemon and Stoko investor in a release. “They are focused on building a company with the foundation and capabilities to efficiently scale the opportunity they have created.”