Bringing innovation to the $18B sports apparel market
After a year in development at Madrona Labs, our fifth company, Rep the Squad, launched yesterday. The response was enthusiastic (ESPN, USA Today, Geekwire) – as the company aims to power sports passion throughout the country and build community in every city. The latest Madrona Labs spinout follows in the footsteps of companies where Madrona partnered from Day One with the founders (Rover, Redfin).
Rep the Squad is a new subscription service that provides fans unprecedented access to a wide variety of licensed sports jerseys for a monthly membership fee. We believe the company speaks directly to the modern passionate fan who is interested in “access over ownership.” These engaged fans number in the tens of millions and they spend thousands of dollars every year supporting the teams and players they love. Rep the Squad empowers them to rep multiple players, jersey styles, and avoid the pitfalls of player trades or even a child’s growth spurt.
We could not be more proud to partner with co-founders Brian Watkins and Alex Berg. They exemplify the best of what we look for in Madrona Labs spinout founders — passion for the market (sports), deep domain experience (ecommerce), and the proven grit and resilience needed to take an early stage startup to the next level. Brian and Alex worked together at both Ritani and Blue Nile and have brought together an exceptional team of ecommerce veterans.
Together, we have been able to assemble a uniquely Seattle startup team across the board. Local venture capital firms Madrona and Maveron were the first to commit to the $1.5M funding round. Seahawks Pro Bowler Doug Baldwin and Mariners legend Edgar Martinez, who’s number 11 jersey was retired earlier this month at Safeco Field, personally invested. Seahawks All-Pro Richard Sherman, who is a big-time jersey collector and swapper himself, signed on as the Rep the Squad brand ambassador.
One of the advantages of operating a startup studio out of a venture capital firm is benefiting from the broader team and ecosystem. Ryan Metzger, a die-hard Seattle sports fan and Madrona’s director of growth marketing, not only came up with the jersey rental concept, but he also worked with Aaron Wilson and others from our team in the early days to validate the idea and introduced us to CEO Brian Watkins, who he had worked with over a decade ago at Blue Nile. Our process consisted of market sizing, competitive analysis, hundreds of in-person interviews, ad-driven customer acquisition testing, and an in-season Seattle Seahawks minimally viable product (MVP) to test unit economics and operational assumptions. The project benefited from Madrona’s existing relationship with Seahawks players and connections to the NFL Players Association, in which Scott Jacobson serves on their OneTeam Collective board of directors.
One of the advantages of operating a startup studio out of a venture capital firm is benefiting from the broader team and ecosystem.
We are thrilled to be a part of the early days of Rep the Squad and invite you to join us. To get started simply choose your favorite jersey and sign up. NFL season kick-off is just one week away, so what are you waiting for?!