money, funding, ian

Celebrity fashion and memorabilia portal Universal Sportsbiz Private Ltd(USPL) has secured $7.5mn(Rs. 46 crore) in series-B funding from its existing investor Accel Partners (of the Angry birds fame), valuing it at nearly Rs. 225 crore. The company is backed by cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar (via ET).

This is the second round of investments by Accel Partners in the company. Accel Partners had invested Rs.17.25 crore in July 2012.

The present round of investment will be used to accelerate USPL’s growth plans. We closed the financial year 2015 with revenues of Rs.25 crore and plan to end fiscal 2016 with revenues of Rs.75 crore to Rs.100 crore as we expand our offerings and presence online and offline,

said Anjana Reddy, founder of USPL, on how the firm planned to utlize the inflow of funds.

USPL’s brand portfolio includes the likes of Wrogn, Imara and Collectabillia.

Tendulkar had invested a non-disclosed sum in USPL before Accel Partners, for a significant minority stake. Of late, fellow cricketer Yuvraj Singh too has been making waves with his investments in start-ups via YouWeCan Ventures, which invested in beauty and wellness platform Vyomo a few months back.

Promoted by Anjana Reddy, herself a professional badminton player, USPL provides consumers with fashion lines of noted celebrities including the likes of Virat Kohli’s Wrogn and Shraddha Kapoor’s Imara. Collectabillia,  a part of USPL’s umbrella of accessories and merchandise, works with sporting icons such as Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, Virat Kolhi, Yuvraj Singh, Vishwanathan Anand, Sir Viv Richards and Adam Gilchrist.

The company is looking to bring 0n-board ten more like-minded persons to the platform.  The company had gotten off to a start by selling Tendulkar’s autographed bats and Lionel Messi laptop covers.

The company is aggressively foraying into online as well as offline retail partnership scenario to broaden it’s reach. Currently Wrogn is available in 30 Shoppers Stop stores and by the end of the year it will be available in all 75 stores of the retail chain. Imara is presently retailed at select stores of Central, Ethnicity, Shoppers Stop and available online on Amazon, Flipkart, Jabong, Myntra and Snapdeal.

We will add more categories under these brands,

said Reddy.

Collectabillia is truly the Indian sport-crazy person’s dream, and the right moves will definitely help the brand and the parent company USPL to tap into the growing sports and entertainment ecosystem with respect to sport and celebrity merchandise in India.

Silicon Valley isn’t new to celeb-backed investments, and it’s time Indian super-rich celebrities too open up their purses to facilitate the booming start-up ecosystem. For, having a celeb-backer or investments can lead to benefits such as a ready market of fans, media and key relations that can convert interests into sales and help a startup gain the mainstream spotlight pretty quickly.

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