Sports365 to raise over $1M in bridge funding round ahead of up to $8M in Series A

Live Sports 365 e-retail Pvt Ltd, the Bangalore-based company behind the online store specialising in sports goods and fitness equipment, Sports365, is set to raise a little more than $1 million in a bridge funding round, a top company executive told VCCircle.

This bridge round is a precursor to its Series A round where it is eyeing $7-8 million in the next six months.

"We are closing the bridge round in a couple of weeks. The VCs are based out of the US. All together there are four investors," said Chandra Sekhar, CEO, Sports365, without giving any further details about the investors.

Early this year, the US venture capital firm Powerhouse Ventures invested an undisclosed amount as a seed fund round in Sports365.

"While the first round of funding will be used for business development, signing new brands and development of private label, the second and the bigger round will be used in marketing these exercises aggressively. We will hire more people post the fundraise," he added.

Founded in 2012, the company is owned by former Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi. While it was started as an e-commerce portal to sell sports and fitness goods, the stakeholders soon realised that there was not much potential in such a niche market so they started an offline B2B segment as well.

In this area they supply sports equipment and fitness products to schools, colleges and sports clubs much like sports goods retailers.

The company plans to hire 25-30 more employees in two-three months. Currently, it has around 50 employees working both for the offline and the online business. Post the Series A round, the company will do another round of hiring which will double its staff to around 150.

Sports365 clocked GMV of $2.5 million (Rs 15 crore) in the financial year ended March 31, 2014 and claims to be cash positive.

According to Sekhar, though the company has good online presence, a majority of its business comes from offline. "Sixty-five per cent of our revenue comes from offline businesses, while 35 comes from the e-commerce portal."

The platform offers products across categories including racket sports, fitness, shoes, leisure, apparel and fan merchandise.

Besides Bhupathi and his wife Lara Dutta, the venture counts on names such as cricketer Yuvraj Singh and squash player Dipika Pallikal who are associated with the firm.

Other online players in the sports goods category are PlayGroundOnline and KhelMart. Sports365 also faces competition from general merchandiser such as Snapdeal and Flipkart, who have sports and fitness products as different categories on their platform. Snapdeal had acquired eSportsbuy two years ago and later shut the site integrating its business as a vertical within its horizontal e-com marketplace.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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