India, a nation known for its ardent love for sports, is experiencing a remarkable surge in the emergence of sports apparel startups. With a growing focus on fitness and athletic lifestyles, these startups are catering to the evolving needs of athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and fashion-conscious consumers. From sports personalities to film stars to corporate executives, all are now investing into sports startups.
Agilitas Sports, a new entrepreneurial venture led by sports business leader Abhishek Ganguly and co-founders Atul Bajaj and Amit Prabhu, has successfully raised over USD 52 million in funding. The trio are the outgoing executives with Puma India. This impressive funding achievement marks one of the largest debut funding rounds for a startup in India.
Revolutionizing The Athleisure Industry Through Innovative Approach
Agilitas Sports’ funding round was spearheaded by Convergent Finance LLP, an investment management and advisory partnership headed by Harsha Raghavan. Convergent Finance invested Rs 400 crore in Agilitas Sports, while an additional Rs 30 crore was contributed by individual investors.
In a press release, the company stated its commitment to investing in the foundational elements of the Indian sports ecosystem. The partnership with Convergent Finance will facilitate collaboration in areas such as operations, capital allocation, and long-term business strategy, ensuring Agilitas Sports is well-positioned for success.
The founding team of Agilitas Sports boasts exceptional expertise in the sportswear sector. Abhishek Ganguly, who served as the managing director of PUMA India and SouthEast Asia, leads the team. Atul Bajaj, the outgoing executive director of sales and operations at PUMA India, and Amit Prabhu, the outgoing chief financial officer of PUMA India, complete the trio. Under Ganguly's leadership, PUMA India experienced remarkable growth, with sales skyrocketing from Rs 600 crore in 2014 to nearly Rs 3,000 crore in 2022.
Disrupting & Redefining The Sportswear Industry
Discussing the vision for Agilitas Sports, Ganguly stated, "Our goal is to disrupt and redefine the sportswear industry by seamlessly integrating innovation and technology throughout the entire product value chain, from manufacturing to retail. With a strong focus on customer experience and centricity, we aim to cultivate meaningful communities within the Indian sports and sportswear space, contributing to a fitter and more athletic India."
Currently, sports footwear constitutes 16% of the overall footwear market and is the fastest-growing segment. The market share of sports footwear in emerging markets is trending towards the global average of over 30%, and in mature markets, it exceeds 50%. Agilitas Sports plans to forge partnerships and investments across the entire sports ecosystem, spanning manufacturing, retail, and technology sectors.
The Evolving Sportswear Landscape in India
India, a nation known for its ardent love for sports, is experiencing a remarkable surge in the emergence of sports apparel startups. These innovative ventures are transforming the Indian sports apparel industry by introducing cutting-edge designs, sustainable materials, and personalized experiences. With a growing focus on fitness and athletic lifestyles, these startups are catering to the evolving needs of athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and fashion-conscious consumers.
In recent years, the sportswear market in India has witnessed a significant shift in consumer preferences. With a rise in health consciousness, increased participation in sports, and the influence of global fashion trends, Indians are seeking functional and stylish sportswear that offers comfort and performance. This shift has created immense opportunities for startups to disrupt traditional players and capture a significant market share.
Sustainably Sporty & Sportingly Innovative!
Recognizing the growing importance of sustainability, many Indian sports apparel startups are adopting eco-friendly practices. They are focusing on using recycled materials, organic fabrics, and innovative manufacturing processes that reduce waste and carbon footprint. Startups such as RIGO, Do U Speak Green, and HASTAKALA are leading the way by offering eco-conscious sportswear options that resonate with environmentally conscious consumers.
Startups like HRX, Seven, and Alcis Sports are incorporating moisture-wicking materials, seamless construction, and compression technology to create sportswear that meets the diverse needs of athletes across various disciplines.
Startups like Fitz Studio, Pico Store, and Aparna Popat's Sportswear provide customization services, allowing customers to choose colors, patterns, and even personalize their sportswear with names or logos. This trend enhances customer engagement and fosters a sense of ownership among consumers.
The Indian sports apparel startup ecosystem has attracted significant investments from venture capitalists and angel investors. The potential for growth and market expansion has led to partnerships and collaborations between startups and established brands. The success stories of startups such as Proline Fitness, HRX, and Asics India have inspired aspiring entrepreneurs and propelled the industry's growth trajectory.
What Are The Challenges For Sportswear Startups?
While sports apparel startups in India are thriving, challenges such as intense competition, supply chain management, and ensuring consistent quality standards remain. Overcoming these obstacles will require startups to focus on brand differentiation, product innovation, and building strong distribution networks. Additionally, fostering collaborations with sports federations and associations can help startups gain credibility and expand their reach.
Sports apparel startups in India are redefining the game by combining style, performance, and sustainability. Their innovative approaches, coupled with a deep understanding of consumer needs, are revolutionizing the way Indians engage with sportswear. As the market continues to evolve, these startups have a unique opportunity to capture the hearts and wardrobes of