The Souled Store Raises $16.4 Mn to Boost ESOP’s and Launch 100 New Stores

Mumbai-based fandoms startup, The Souled Store, has raised $16.4 million in a Series C funding round led by Xponentia Capital Partners, with participation from returning investors Elevation Capital and RPSG Capital. The funding will be used to expand into new categories and launch over 100 stores across India in the next two years.

In addition, the company plans to boost its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) programme by offering a 100% buyback of vested employee shares. The move is aimed at providing greater value to employees who have been allotted ESOPs, according to Vedang Patel, one of the company’s founders. The Series C funding round marks Xponentia Capital’s biggest investment in the consumer sector to date.

“We have been selective about whom we have allotted ESOPs to and we would like our employees to see value in it,” said Vedang Patel, Co-founder of The Souled Store. The startup will also offer a 100% buyback of vested employee shares as part of its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) program.

The Souled Store currently has 12 stores across five cities and has recently expanded its offerings to include sneakers and kidswear. It has established itself as a popular brand for fan merchandise apparel aimed at 18-32-year-olds. “Our stores take a maximum of two to three months to recover the capex. We have stores in Bengaluru, Pune, Gurugram, Mumbai, and Indore,” Patel said.

The Souled Store Community Expands

The Mumbai-based startup was founded in 2013 and has raised nearly $13.1 million in funding to date. Actor Sara Ali Khan, who invested in the startup in March 2022, is its brand ambassador. “The Souled Store has established a distinctive brand and is in the process of creating a large community that identifies and relates with its casual wear products,” said PR Srinivasan, Managing Partner at Xponentia Capital.

The Souled Store claims to receive nearly 70% of its orders through its own website, followed by 15% from other online marketplaces and the rest from its stores. It currently claims to be at an annualised revenue of Rs 450 crore in terms of Gross Merchandise Value. However, the startup did report losses of $2.8 million for fiscal 2021, according to Tracxn. It competes with the likes of Planet SuperHeroes owned by Nodwin Gaming.

The Souled Store is known for its fan merchandise apparel aimed at 18-32-year-olds and has already added sneakers and kidswear to its offerings. The startup currently has 12 stores across five cities and claims to have an annualized revenue of Rs 450 crore.

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