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You can’t hold back an entrepreneur.
Just six months after stepping down as CEO of Vibram USA, Tony Post is ready to get back into the game with a new company of his own.
The start-up footwear brand, Topo Athletic, will debut to retailers next month at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market with three new men’s and women’s products focused on running and functional fitness. Post said he secured $5 million in series A financing from Norwest Venture Partners in Silicon Valley to help launch the company.
While Post is credited with leading, launching and growing the Five Fingers barefoot running craze at Vibram, he said Topo Athletic products will not fit into the barefoot or minimalist category.
“They will be incredibly lightweight, but this is not a barefoot line,” he told SNEWS in an exclusive first interview announcing the new venture. “The concept doesn’t try to fix the way people train, it leverages the natural biomechanics they already have.”
Post declined to release specific product details such as weight and price range until Winter Market, but said two of the initial products would target runners — more specifically road running — and the other product would center on functional fitness activities such as crossfit. In the future, the company plans to expand into numerous other categories, such as trail running.
Post said he believes there’s room in the crowded footwear market for different types of brands to address various levels of sport, whether it be preparation, race-day performance or recovery; minimalist, barefoot or lightweight.
Topo Athletic’s products will allow “athletes to optimize their training to tackle more aggressive goals,” he said. “Topo’s target audience is athletes who value simplicity, functional design and technology where it counts.”
When Post announced his departure from Vibram in June — he stayed to help with the transition until July — he told SNEWS that it was time to move on after 11 years with the brand.
Ultimately, what drove that decision was a passion to be an entrepreneur again, he told SNEWS Monday.
“I really loved my job at Vibram USA,” he said. “When I started, there was two of us bringing in $3 million the first year. When I left, there was more than 100 employees and $170 million in sales. I enjoyed that process building a company up from a small level. I wanted the opportunity to do that again.”
Post will lead Topo Athletic from Newton, Mass., while development and production are based in China. All together, the company employs 10 people and is expected to grow during the next six months, leading up to a consumer debut in May 2013.