Flash Sales Site SportPursuit Scores £9.5M Series C

SportPursuit, the flash sales site for ‘premium’ outdoor and sports gear, has raised £9.5 million in Series C funding. Investors this time around are Scottish Equity Partners (SEP), Grafton Capital, and existing backer Draper Esprit, bringing total funding for the London-based company to just shy of £16 million since launching in 2012.

SportPursuit, which currently ships to over 40 countries and has recently added localised versions for France, Germany and Denmark, says it will use the additional capital for further international expansion. The flash sales site — or private buying club — boasts 2 million-plus members who have signed up to its site/email list, up from 1 million in August 2014.

Following the familiar flash sales model — and similar to U.S.-based The Clymb — the company offers members time-limited and “exclusive” offers, which usually expire after 7 days, for products from leading and niche sports brands such as Berghaus, Marmot, Arc’teryx, Under Armour, Garmin, and GoPro. The draw for those brands is to help shift excess inventory but also to introduce new brands and products to a particularly engaged audience.

In a call, SportPursuit CEO and co-founder Adam Pikett drove home this point, talking up the passion that its members show for their sporting pastime. For example, someone who goes skiing typically defines themselves as a skier and it’s this level of engagement that has meant the startup is succeeding where other flash sales or group-buying models have failed.

There are other aspects to SportPursuit’s growth — and likely what attracted further investment — and that’s its marketing technology which sees each weekly email being personalised so that different members receive different offers based on their sporting interests but also data such as their browsing and purchasing history.

Another factor and something that Pikett thinks puts up significant barriers to entry is the company’s fulfilment infrastructure that sees it have warehouses and handle all consumer-facing deliveries, returns and customer support. Brands simply send the appropriate amount of stock to SportPursuit after each sale and the startup takes care of the rest. In that sense, regardless of its flash sales model, this is more akin to Amazon or any major e-commerce player.

Lastly, there’s the startup’s relationship with the brands it works with, something that Pikett and his team have spent a lot of time building over the last few years. In August 2014, SportPursuit recruited Kath Smith, ex UK managing director for both Adidas and Rebook, as Chief Sales Officer to help with this task, although I understand she has since left the company.