Football Helmet Cooling Startup Secures $ 1.5 Million Funding, Closes Deals with LSU, Alabama and Clemson | New

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – A Louisiana tech start-up that makes cooler, more comfortable football helmets has raised more than $ 1.5 million from investors and made deals with major college football programs such as LSU, Alabama and Clemson.

Tigeraire, based in Baton Rouge, was founded in August 2020. LSU football players were required to wear a plastic face shield to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but the shield often fogged up and made it difficult to breathe.

Jack Karavich, a native of Virginia and a Tulane MBA graduate, noticed that heat-combo masks were a problem for LSU football players. He initially donated supplies for the devices with no intention of starting a business around it.

Tigeraire’s cooling device uses battery-powered fans with a flexible plastic tube to draw air in through the vents on the back of the helmet.

“This new helmet technology creates a similar feeling of freshness,” said Jack Marucci, director of athletic training for LSU in a statement. “The advantage is even greater for players who wear eye protection, as it eliminates the possibility of fogging inside which could obstruct the player’s vision. “

After a year of development, Karavich said he was going to mass-produce and increase sales. LSU patented the technology and Tigeraire has the exclusive commercial license for the manufacture. The startup has signed deals with LSU and other football programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M, Maryland and Virginia. The startup also sells directly to young football players.

The goal is to expand manufacturing to produce 25,000 units each month. Tigeraire is under contract with a temporary manufacturer as he seeks to develop his own factory in Louisiana.

It has grown to 25 employees, most of whom work in the LSU Innovation Park offices. The startup raised $ 1.5 million from investors for its December 2020 funding round, led by General Catalyst, a Massachusetts-based venture capital firm that has invested in Venmo, Airbnb and TikTok. Karavich said Tigeraire is the first Louisiana company to secure seed money from one of the 50 largest venture capital firms. Other investors included Atlanta investor David Lightburn, Tulane mentor John Elstrott and Patrick Coogan, a former pitcher for two LSU baseball teams that won the College World Series. Coogan is the director of recipes.

Beyond football helmets, the company extends to safety helmet devices for the industrial and construction sectors. These markets are a global opportunity for Tigeraire, according to Karavich.

“It kind of caught us off guard, the executives were contacting us to see if we could put the football product in their helmets,” he said.

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