As sites like Fab wean themselves off flash sales, with some VCs expressing scepticism towards the longevity of the flash sales model, others remain bullish. Perhaps it’s a case of flash sales working better in some verticals than others. Today, the UK’s SportPursuit, a 1 million member-strong flash sales site for sports enthusiasts, is announcing a series B round of funding.
Led by existing investor, London-based VC firm DFJ Esprit, with participation from Silicon Valley Bank, it’s raised £5 million in new capital (which presumably includes venture debt). Others who participated include angel investors William Reeve (chairman of Graze.com and co-founder of Amazon-owned LOVEFiLM), Alex Chesterman (founder of Zoopla), and Alex Saint (CEO of Secret Escapes). The round brings total raised since the flash sales site launched just over two years ago to ~£6.4 million.
Following the familiar flash sales model — and similar to U.S.-based The Clymb — SportPursuit members are sent time-limited “exclusive” offers, which usually expire after 7 days, for products from leading sports brands such as Marmot, Helly Hansen, Canterbury, Garmin, GoPro and Icebreaker. It counts more than 600 brands in total.
It’s also talking up the sports category as attracting passionate consumers, making the spontaneity and discovery draw of flash sales a good fit. Meanwhile, the company says its Internet-based, data-driven approach allows it to “give each member something new, relevant and interesting every day”, and that this enables brands to use SportPursuit (and flash sales) as a platform for growth.
The new funding will be used to bolster its product line in the UK, bringing on additional brands, as well as for European expansion. Scandinavia is name-checked in particular. Noteworthy, it already claims members outside of the UK, and says it’s shipped products to more than 40 countries.
I’m also told that a third of new sign-ups come through organic member-to-member or word of mouth activity. User acquisition is likely one of the main challenges of operating a vertical flash sales site, along with getting enough new and enticing offers in the pipeline to keep those users converting, of course.