The Souled Store Raises INR 75 Cr From Elevation Capital

The company plans to grow its D2C business from INR 200 crore to INR 1,000 crore in the next four years, deepen its brand presence, and expand its retail footprint across 15 cities pan India

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Mumbai-based youth casual wear brand, The Souled Store, announced on Wednesday to have raised INR 75 crore in Series B funding led by Elevation Capital. The investment round also saw participation from angel investors Sahil Barua (Delhivery), Gunjan Soni (Zalora), Revant Bhate (Mosaic Wellness), Ramakant Sharma (Livspace), Ashish Goel (Urban Ladder), Rohit Kapoor (OYO), Mukund Kulashekaran (Urban Company) and Varun Duggirala (The Glitch).

The Souled Store

The company will use the capital for expanding its product portfolio on both licensed merchandise and casual wear, building better brand awareness and offline retail presence pan India, expanding its manufacturing capabilities and focusing on recruiting activities.

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 150+ franchisees. The key differentiator of the brand is the unique designs that The Souled Store gives its customers, the company shared.

"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. From day 1, our aim has been to create a truly homegrown brand that focuses on three important aspects: great products, unique designs, and outstanding service. This is what has also led to the high-repeating cult-like customer base that we have built. Today, we've become the one-stop destination for all things pop culture in the country! We are super excited to be partnering with a highly reputed fund like Elevation Capital that believes in this vision. Their vast experience in backing and helping scale some of the biggest start-ups in India makes them the perfect partner for us. 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 fulfill our aim of crossing INR 1,000 crore GMV by 2025," said Vedang Patel, co-founder, and chief executive officer, The Souled Store.

The Souled Store mainly offers high-quality and 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 its 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, they have successfully generated sustainable growth and revenue (especially through repeat customers even amid the pandemic), the startup claims.

"The Souled Store has successfully capitalized on India's pop culture—which has led to its unique positioning. We were thoroughly impressed by the kind of scale that the company has built-in a capital-efficient manner. This growth is a consequence of the company's relentless focus on customer experience to drive loyalty & data-driven merchandising to manage inventory and keep operations lean. We are super excited to partner with the team in the journey ahead of building The Souled Store into India's most loved D2C casual-wear brand," commented Deepak Gaur, partner, Elevation Capital.

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 fourfold by focusing on data, customer insights and feedback, and keeping customer satisfaction above all else. The Souled Store has become India's one-stop destination for pop culture merchandise with over 3 million registered users and is on track to do an INR 500 crore GMV next year.

"The Souled Store's tremendous growth since inception is symbolic of the sheer customer love and execution excellence of the founding team. We are very bullish on the milestones they plan to achieve in the coming years. Glad to welcome Elevation Capital in this journey to build the most admired youth lifestyle brand in India," added Abhishek Goenka, RPSG Ventures.

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 INR 1,000 crore in revenue by 2025.