Originally published by AmericanInno
In 2015, SquadLocker was just getting started.
SquadLocker’s creators had been working at Turfer Athletic, selling performance outerwear to teams. Outside of work, they were parents and coaches to young athletes, dealing with the logistics of coordinating uniforms for sports teams. It was then that the founders—Todd Grant, Gary Goldberg and Frank Tillinghast—realized that the sportswear industry was “stuck in the 1990s.”
The trio launched their startup with the idea to streamline youth athletic apparel by using instantly created online stores, which coaches and parents could use to customize clothing and have players place their orders. SquadLocker ships purchases directly to players.
Five years on, SquadLocker is an Ocean State powerhouse. The software itself has been used to create well over 250,000 sites, Goldberg told Rhode Island Inno, and about 40,000 leagues use the service. Goldberg estimates that equates to about 17 million young athletes. The company has also expanded its offerings. After starting out with a focus on spirit wear, SquadLocker now sells athletic uniforms to be worn on the field—clothing that requires significantly more attention to detail when it comes to sizing and textile manufacturing.
“Getting into that core competency, the actual uniform itself, really elevated our stature in terms of our relationship with leagues and teams,” said Goldberg, who heads up SquadLocker as CEO and is a textile engineer himself. “We’ve become a primary supplier as opposed to a secondary supplier.”
Meanwhile, the company has built partnerships with nation.academy, to produce new equipment and merchandise, and with the conference ECAC Hockey, to re-design the league’s online store and provide championship gift cards for both the ECAC Hockey men’s and women’s championships in 2019. SquadLocker has also partnered with league management software SportsEngine, a division of NBC Sports, for the last three years.
Plus, it’s profitable.
“We have significant revenue now,” Goldberg said. “Ultimately, we aspire to be the brand name of choice as the solution that people think about to solve this complex problem of buying, designing and distributing team gear and apparel. Our goal is to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in the next three to five years.”
Now, fresh off a $20 million Series C round—one of the largest institutional funding rounds Rhode Island has seen in recent years—SquadLocker is still expanding. As we reported last week, the round will go toward growth initiatives, including the expansion of channel partner relationships. Goldberg said the funding will also be used to hire about 40 new employees on the sales, marketing and engineering teams.
"For an up-and-comer, there's plenty here to make it work"
-Gary Goldber, Founder and CEO of SquadLocker
Also on the horizon: In about one month, SquadLocker will move all of its engineering and customer service employees out of the current space, which is a combination of offices and a manufacturing facility, and into a 15,000-sq.-ft. office next door. That will create a necessary separation between the two sides of SquadLocker, and it’ll free up at least 20,000 sq. ft. to be used exclusively for manufacturing.
SquadLocker has no plans to leave Rhode Island anytime soon. For one, Goldberg said, the company has invested heavily in its Warwick facility. But Goldberg and his team also want to take advantage of the state’s talent pool, particularly alumni emerging from Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College and others.
“Rhode Island is a great place to network and to connect with people, and I find areas of authority or decision-making in Rhode Island very accessible,” Goldberg said. “It’s been a really good environment for us—despite what you hear, right, which is, ‘We’re around 48th out of 50 in business-friendly states.’ I’m sure all that is tough for a large Fortune 500 company when looking at Rhode Island. But for an up-and-comer, there’s plenty here to make it work.”
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