Irish ath-leisure brand Gym + Coffee has put down stakes in the U.S. market through a new web site.
The active lifestyle brand is looking to grow its international presence as it participates in discussions with potential investors for a seed round. The company was valued at 1.2 million euros in 2017, and is “on track to grow 4x in 2018.”
Niall Horgan, chief executive officer, said that the company has been self-funded, and given expectations on sales growth, is working off a “valuation base of $4 million.”
“We’re meeting with a number of European investors and a Singaporean investor. We are also talking to individuals who have connections to U.S. investors. While we probably don’t need a U.S. investor now, in a couple of years’ time — maybe two or three — we’d probably need a larger investor for expansion and would need a U.S. investor then. We want to build those connections now,” the ceo said. Horgan expects to conclude the fund-raising at the end of this summer.
Horgan said he and two cofounders launched the brand in January 2017. The idea came from one of the cofounders who, when he was living in Melbourne, noticed that the Australian lifestyle was focused more on being active and more health conscious.
“We then noticed that the focus started to show up in Ireland, in Dublin. We’re a few years behind in the trends, but in more multinational cities like Dublin it was a major change. I was in California at the time and noticed a similar pattern there too.
“Then we saw celebrities taking on a healthy and active lifestyle, and hanging out in cafés. In Ireland, people were forming running clubs and doing triathlons. Ten years ago that wasn’t popular in Ireland. During the recession, Irish people immigrated to the U.S. and Australia. They were in their early 20s then, and now ten years later are returning to Ireland and bringing back the lifestyle,” Horgan said.
He said they noticed that there didn’t seem to be any Irish ath-leisure brand in the country and decided to start one. “Since this was a lifestyle we enjoyed ourselves — we exercise and socialize at the same time — we wanted to encourage that here. We don’t have a gym or [offer] coffee, but we wanted to tell our target demographic exactly who we are. We exercise at the gym, and then grab coffee with our friends afterward, so [we called our brand] Gym + Coffee,” the cofounder explained, adding, “We’re trying to encourage people to tag up on the weekends.”
The company each Monday posts content showing people at different outdoor events wearing the line, whether on a hike, climbing a mountain or visiting a pyramid. The company is also looking at kicking off a number of meet-up events — a ten-week exercise series in Ireland and the U.K., coffee at local cafés — to create opportunities for people to exercise and socialize, as well as get to know the brand.
The company targets consumers primarily in their late 20s and early 30s. The product line is currently sold in a few boutiques in Dublin, but most of the sales come from the European Union. Sales in the U.S. have also been growing since beta testing began in March, and now represents 12 percent of total company sales.
There are currently just a few selections for hoodies and T-shirts for men and women, as well as unisex beanies. The hoodies retail for $85, with the shirts at $45. Beanies are priced at $18.
Horgan said now was the right time to enter the U.S. market. “We started to think about that toward the fourth quarter of last year. We’re happy with how things are going in Ireland and the U.K., and now can give the U.S. [market] some focus. We spend a number of months to get all the back-end pieces in place, from the U.S. web site to distribution and fulfillment centers,” he said.
Next up for the brand will be leggings next month. The company has been developing the line for over a year, and has a manufacturing deal with a Singaporean firm that also does work for Lululemon Athletica, Adidas and Puma, Horgan said.
The final amount of the seed round that’s slated to be raised will determine the timeline for new product releases. Other plans in the works include women’s vests, and jackets for men and women.