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SportTechie Startup Profile Series: SquadLocker
Photo of Brian Halligan

SquadLocker Is Changing The Purchase Process Of Gear And Apparel For Youth Sports

 

Company: SportTechie


Founders: Gary Goldberg, CEO
Todd Grant, President
Frank Tillinghast, CFO

 

Headquarters: Warwick, Rhode Island

 

1.  What is your elevator pitch?

SquadLocker is disrupting the $8 billion hyper-local, intensely fragmented athletic apparel market. SquadLocker has formed key partnerships with, Sports Illustrated Play, TeamSnap, Sport Ngin, USA Football and many other leaders in the youth athletics space to change the way leagues and teams select and purchase customized team gear and apparel.

SquadLocker is the only solution that allows a league manager, coach or parent volunteer to select from a curated list of gear based on the profile of the team, to select items from the world’s leading athletic brands like Under Armour, Nike and Adidas, to upload team logos and to build a custom shopping experience for parents instantly in a self-service mode. The process is easy, streamlined and fast.

League managers and coaches manage the entire process themselves using SquadLocker’s proprietary instant and free store builder tools. After the store is built, tools are available for promoting and sharing the stores with parents who shop for their son and daughter athletes. Once the parent ordering takes place, SquadLocker’s craftspeople handle order processing, provide free art work creation and editing, decoration, and fulfillment from its global headquarters and wholly-owned manufacturing facility in Warwick, Rhode Island.

What once took countless hours and multiple sessions, now takes less than five minutes in an easy-to-use online workflow. As a result, SquadLocker makes it easier for league organizers to manage youth programs and for coaches to spend more time mentoring and inspiring young athletes. No more order forms, no collecting checks. Hassle free and all online!

2. Problem & Solution

The $8 billion custom decorated team apparel space has stagnated. It is controlled by approximately 15,000 corner store operators that serve their local communities providing an outlet for local youth leagues with hard goods such as bats, balls and helmets for little leagues. These shops also provide decorated uniforms and player apparel. What’s odd is that this sector seems to have gotten stuck in the ‘80s. There hasn’t been significant technological innovation bringing this industry into the new economy.

Who’s losing? The young athletes. Because youth league organizers, coaches and parent volunteers have no modern online experience, the youth athlete suffers. Coaches are spending their valuable time dealing with burdensome apparel coordination rather than mentoring and inspiring the young athletes. But change is underway and innovative new market entrants like Squadlocker, Inc. are bringing this market into the 21st century.

3. Market – your target market and the overall market

SquadLocker’s store builder solution called TeamLocker™ solution was built to integrate seamlessly within League Software environments. We raised millions of dollars and have invested those funds into technology innovations so league software providers such as Sports Illustrated Play, TeamSnap, Sport Ngin and others could provide more value to their communities of leagues and teams.

Youth leagues are seeking one-stop-shop solutions provided by comprehensive league management platforms, everything league volunteers need to manage the myriad logistics of a youth league organization. Any league management platform must have an integrated apparel solution.

Youth leagues are demanding that this service be included in any league software they utilize. We intend for SquadLocker’s apparel workflows to become a league software utility. The league software providers are choosing SquadLocker because we’re the only company that has the critical combination of uniquely innovative technology, authentic athletic brands such as Under Armour and decorating and fulfillment infrastructure to support demand at scale.

4. Business Model – how do you make money?

SquadLocker is acquiring new customers rapidly as a result of the behavior change we are responsible for. Ease-of-use and convenience are adoption triggers. The more stores that get set up by league admins and coaches, the more parents our platform gets exposed to. In short, we’re a platform that activates parent shopping from stores that are custom shopping experiences established by league and team managers who want players to be outfitted head-to-toe in the best decorated apparel available in the market today.

Disruptive innovation is coming to youth athletics, with 40-50 million young participants, ranging from 5 year olds to college students, playing on more than four million teams across America. Technology has brought improvement in every aspect, including player registration, payment systems, parent communications, coaching, recruitment and apparel management. League Management Software solutions have become ubiquitous in providing online registration and scheduling tools to youth leagues. Converging with these software advancements are more recent and obvious signals that significant change is underway.

Choice and convenience transcend geographies and industries. Efficient, scalable and interactive forces, complete with a feedback loop, can elevate competition to real-time responses. Such competitive pressures also push out the poor performers and bring down prices.

Technology and change have disrupted the way that we think and shop. Amazon offers the best possible prices to consumers. Zappos opens doors to countless choices in shoes. Uber and AirBnB have upended the century old livery and hospitality industries respectively.

SquadLocker is focused on innovating a streamlined process for the volunteers who mentor and inspire young athletes as coaches or league organizers. That doesn’t mean it’s all-out head-to-head competition between our improved online workflows and the corner store operators nationally. We’re building value through four key points of differentiation:

  • Technology innovation
  • Agility…no fear of failure and an incessant open-mindedness to try and learn
  • A culture of collaboration, flexibility and openness to imagine what’s possible
  • Flexible business models and a partnerships based on exchanges of value and shared visions

5. Management Team – with titles

SquadLocker was founded by Gary Goldberg and is managed by Todd Grant, Frank Tillinghast and Keith Roberts, all parents of young athletes. They have witnessed the amazing learning journey their own children have experienced through youth sports. Through SquadLocker, they are thrilled to provide league and team managers with an apparel solution that makes it easier for them to spend more time mentoring and inspiring young athletes everywhere.

Gary Goldberg, CEO

Gary is a third generation textile engineer who has enjoyed designing textile consumer products for some of the world’s most recognized retailers and brands. He readily admits that he never reached star athlete status during his younger days, but recently has enjoyed learning to play Squash with his 3 teenage children. He is regularly beaten at pickup basketball by his two boys, but claims he lets them win.

Todd Grant, President

Todd loves start-ups. Being part of a great team is rare, but when it happens, it’s beyond special. Todd loves the pursuit of the prize, particularly those that are elusive and worthy of the effort, bringing all the pieces together to create value — new ideas, the journey of learning, great teams, customers and flawless execution. That’s fun at work! Along with SquadLocker, Todd loves chasing his son around the baseball and soccer fields in East Greenwich, RI.

Frank Tillinghast, CFO

Frank is a Certified Public Accountant who has over 20 years’ experience as a finance executive in textiles and apparel. He received his MBA from Babson College where he focused on Entrepreneurship. Frank received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island where he played hockey. When he isn’t in the office, most times you will find him coaching hockey or baseball with his son, James.

Keith Roberts, VP/Engineering

Keith has spent the past 20 years working in various areas of technology; areas of focus have been product development, network operations, and information security. Most of Keith’s career has been spent working with technology startups, but has experience working in financial services, communications, and healthcare IT. When Keith isn’t building the ‘next best thing’ he can be found playing with his kids, coaching one of their teams.

6. What else do you want the audience to know about your venture?


What’s really most important is the shared vision of serving the young athlete. Our partners, like Sports Illustrated and our league software partners are committed to serving the youth athlete and to make it easier for the volunteers who dedicate their time to mentor and inspire these athletes as well.At SquadLocker, young athletes are more than just another name and number, they are our world and they make up everything we do. As a company we are focused on delivering the best customer experience day in and day out, we don’t get time outs. We don’t stop due to weather. We play on no matter what and winning for us means pleasing you. Here are just a few of the ways in which SquadLocker delivers the best experience for coaches, athletic directors, league managers, parent volunteers and players.Coaches and league organizers win from the easier method of managing apparel. Parents and players win by having access to the best performing brands, all customized to their personal needs. When those two things occur, our sports league software partners win as well. By helping our partner’s constituent communities of athletes and parents, everything else falls into place.When we’re done coaches will be able to spend more of their volunteer time nurturing and mentoring these young adult athletes who participate in youth sports. And, as a result of making managing apparel easier, we too will affect tens of millions of athletes each year. That’s why at SquadLocker…We Love Teams!

Bonus questions: If you were stuck on a desert island with any three athletes, who would they be and why?

  • Jackie Robinson – perseverance to overcome
  • Muhammad Ali – pride and will to win
  • Cal Ripken Jr. – endurance

If you were to invite any CEO to dinner who would it be and why?

Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos. To learn about building phenomenal company cultures, employee empowerment and engagement.

If you could go to any sporting event, what would it be and why?

4-3 USA victory over Russia in the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympics on February 22, 1980

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