An Inside Look At The Fast Growing Sporting Goods Startup ROUND2
A former MLB draft pick and startup business developer are ramping up growth at a new business that seeks to grab a piece of the sporting goods industry, just as professional and youth sports are trying to find their footing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ROUND2, founded by Brian Fletcher and Dillon Breslin, says it expects to handle about $10 million in gross sales in the next year, citing the massive spike in sales on bicycles, home fitness equipment, golf clubs and more. ROUND2 makes money by using AI to consolidate listings from the top sites into one place so athletes can save time and rest assured they’ve found the best deal specifically for their needs. When consumers click through and buy on other sites such as eBay, FinishLine, Overstock.com, or StockX, ROUND2 makes a commision. With shoppers mostly restricted to online shopping for the foreseeable future, the ROUND2 co-founders explained more to The Kerplunk about the solution they are pioneering:
The Kerplunk: How has the world of sporting goods changed during COVID-19?
Dillon Breslin: One big trend is the proliferation of people trying to get outdoors. There are so many options and with youth team sports leagues and schools generally unavailable, we are seeing record numbers in sales in the outdoor categories. We’re seeing people buying bikes, where sales are nearly tripling this same time a year ago, golf clubs, hiking and camping gear, running shoes, and even skateboards being ordered online from any source possible. COVID-19 is changing the way consumers behave, but a lot of these segments are experiencing rapid growth. I think when it’s all over, we will see that there’s more inventory available than ever to keep up with the changing demands. That’s why we’re focused on building the easiest way to find sporting goods. There’s a need to help athletes sift through all the options to ensure they’ve found the perfect equipment at the best price point.
TK: Do you suspect a change in youth team sports and how gear is purchased?
Brian Fletcher: We could see purchasing being done in bulk, where full teams are outfitted for gear. This not only speeds up the process, but it also ensures that less youth athletes and families are putting themselves at risk in the interim. Growing up, a lot of the teams I played on including college and at a pro level, they liked to order equipment and gear for as many players as possible and from as little sources as possible. Smoother transactions. Especially today, where we are putting safety first, it’s less hands.
TK: Is there a move towards industry consolidation?
Breslin: With so much growing fragmentation in the industry, there will continue to be consolidation to bring options together. Right now, shopping for the right equipment and gear is time consuming, and it’s hard for consumers to know if they’ve purchased the best options. By bringing together all options from the top sites in one place – athletes will have a better, and more modern shopping experience.
TK: What other types of services are being consolidated?
Fletcher: Almost all types of travel are being consolidated. From booking airfare to choosing a property to stay at, to finding a rental car.. travel consolidation is happening at all ends of the market. In the shopping segment, all-in-one marketplaces are gaining wild popularity. Nobody has looked at the sporting goods niche though, until now.
TK: Who are the companies pioneering these services, and how do they differ in their functionality?
Breslin: Many travel companies consolidate offerings as a part of their service, but we’ve found that consolidation is not enough to make it easy to find what you’re looking for. While there are several companies consolidating different segments of the travel industry, most tend to focus on being ‘the largest’ players and having the most inventory. With ROUND2, we are taking a different approach. While inventory growth is important, we’re really focused on being the best place to find the perfect sporting goods by personalizing results to each athlete. So, from a functionality standpoint, we are utilizing AI.
TK: What does AI add to the shopping experience?
Fletcher: AI and automation are key components in helping to find the right sporting goods for you. With so many options at every athlete’s fingertips, it is nearly impossible to surface the best results. By identifying important customer signals and trends, AI and automation can make the shopping process easier than ever before since we are basically curating items for them that we believe are the best ones.
TK: What are customers seeking from a service like this?
Breslin: Athletes are ultimately focused on one thing – having the best possible gear for the best price. For ROUND2, that means bringing together all the top options and showcasing the best results so the millions of athletes who find gear through us walk away knowing they found the best option at the best price.