Loot Crate, the subscription startup for fans and geeks, raises $18.5M

Geeky commerce startup Loot Crate is announcing that it has raised $18.5 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Upfront Ventures, with participation from Breakwater Investment Management, Time Inc., Downey Ventures (startup investment arm of Team Downey, the production company founded by Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey), M13 and Sterling.VC.

When you subscribe to Loot Crate, you get a monthly box with four to seven mystery items, ranging from toys to clothing to books and comics, all tied into big pop culture and geek franchises. (The company says the majority of its products are exclusive to Loot Crate.) The basic plan costs $13.95 per month, plus $6 for shipping and handling.

Founded in 2012, Loot Crate currently has more than 600,000 subscribers and more than $100 million in annualized revenue. And it’s expanded beyond the basic plan, with subscriptions focused on anime, gaming, individual franchises like Joss Whedon’s Firefly and more. (On that front, Loot Crate is also announcing a partnership with 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios for a new subscription around Halo.)

The big funding round suggests that Loot Crate isn’t just aiming for that a niche, geeky audience, perhaps because those interests are becoming increasingly mainstream.

“We definitely think it’s not just about that kind of stereotypical geek — we’re really going after the big, passionate fan groups,” said CEO Chris Davis.

After all, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have audiences of millions of viewers, while Disney generates billions of dollars in merchandise sales.

The vision, Davis said, includes delivering products that are personalized to your interests — not in the sense that each Loot Crate subscriber will get a different box, but in the sense of carefully curating what’s included in each subscription, then helping each user find “the right one of our subscriptions for you.” And yes, we can expect the number of plans to continue expanding.

But even if you’re a big fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, superhero comics and so on, I did wonder how many toys a person can receive before their closets are overflowing.

“We like items that seamlessly integrate into your life,” Davis said. “We’ve done BB-8 Star Wars socks, Yoda T-shirts, we did an Infinity Gauntlet mitt from Marvel — everyone needs an oven mitt. We want to make sure it’s not like your entire dresser is packed with figurines in a weekend.”

There are also plans for international growth. Loot Crate already delivers to 35 countries, and it will open its first overseas office, in the United Kingdom, this summer.