Mumbai-based youth casual wear brand, The Souled Store, has raised Rs 75 crore in Series B funding led by Elevation Capital. The investment round also saw participation from angel investors including Sahil Barua (co-founder, Delhivery), Gunjan Soni (CEO, Zalora) and Ashish Goel (founder, Urban Ladder). The other such investors include Rohit Kapoor (CEO, INSEA at OYO), Mukund Kulashekaran (SVP of business, Urban Company), and Varun Duggirala (co-founder, The Glitch).
The company will use the capital for expanding its product portfolio on both licensed merchandise and casual wear. The funding would help it in building better brand awareness and offline retail presence pan India, expanding their manufacturing capabilities, and focusing on recruiting activities.
“The Souled Store was started with the idea of doing what you love, from the soul. That’s what sets us apart, the people behind the scenes love what they do, and that shows in our work. Today, we’ve become the one-stop destination for all things pop culture in the country,” said Vedang Patel, co-founder and CEO, The Souled Store. “The focus going forward will be to introduce a variety of new product categories, enhance our customer reach, and expand our offline presence pan India to fulfil our aim of crossing Rs 1,000 crore GMV (gross merchandise value) by 2025.”
Founded in 2013 by Vedang Patel, Aditya Sharma, Rohin Samtaney, and Harsh Lal, The Souled Store was one of the first brands to bring in licensed merchandise and is currently India’s largest fan merchandise destination with licenses including Disney, Warner Bros, WWE, IPL teams, EPL Teams and Viacom18. The company designs, manufactures and retails a wide range of apparel products with designs ranging from pop-culture themes like superheroes (Marvel and DC universes), movies (Star Wars, Harry Potter), TV shows (Friends, Game of Thrones), and cartoons (Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry), and has partnered with over 150 franchisees. The key differentiator of the brand is the unique designs that The Souled Store gives its customers.
“The Souled Store has successfully capitalized on India’s pop culture—which has led to its unique positioning,” said Deepak Gaur, partner, Elevation Capital. “We were thoroughly impressed by the kind of scale that the company has built in a capital-efficient manner.”
The Souled Store mainly offers affordable fan merchandise apparel to the internet-savvy and pro-online Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. The company has a large and near-cult “fan” base with 836,000 followers on Instagram and about 2 lakh daily visitors on the website and app. In the last few years, the company has also actively diversified their product mix from just fan merchandise and basic brand T-shirts to include other apparel (for both men and women), such as athleisure, casual dresses, sweatshirts, and loungewear. Through their mass premium appeal, product innovations and loyalty programs, the brand has successfully generated sustainable growth and revenue (especially through repeat customers even amid the pandemic).
The company was bootstrapped for the first five years and received seed funding from RP-SG Ventures in November 2018. Since then, the company has grown over 4X by focusing on data, customer insights and feedback, and keeping customer satisfaction above all else.
“The Souled Store’s tremendous growth since inception (and through Covid) is symbolic of the sheer customer love and execution excellence of the founding team,” said Abhishek Goenka from RPSG Ventures.
Everything from designing to the fit of the product is constructed using an algorithmic-driven approach, making sure customers receive an unmatched experience. This attention to the product along with strong company culture is the reason The Souled Store grew even during the pandemic and profitably. The brand said it has become India’s one-stop destination for pop culture merchandise with over 3 million registered users and is on track to do a Rs 500 crore GMV next year.
In 2020, the rapidly growing Indian e-commerce industry was estimated to be around $38-40 billion, with apparel as the second-largest category (around 25 per cent valued at $6-6.5 billion). Western wear is a natural fit for the online channel due to its standard sizing and lesser need for touch and feel (as compared to ethnic and formal wear segments). Given this, The Souled Store has the potential to scale to Rs 1,000 crore in revenue by 2025.