Gary Goldberg realized quickly after he launched his athletic apparel brand that he wouldn’t be able to compete with the big players in the field like Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. So he turned his focus to the little guys.
Goldberg is the founder and chief executive of SquadLocker Inc., a Warwick, R.I., company that is shaking up the fragmented field of youth sports uniform decoration that has long been dominated by mom-and-pop screen printing and embroidery shops.
SquadLocker allows organizers to set up an online team store where parents can buy their own kids’ uniforms, an innovation that Goldberg said does away with the need for one parent to put up cash and then pester other parents to pay for orders that can take weeks to arrive.
“It’s just really chaotic, and it’s just a huge opportunity for modifying this consumption process,” said Goldberg, whose father and grandfather owned a textile mill in Fall River.
The company has been drawing attention from investors, including Causeway Media Partners, whose partners include Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.
Causeway led a $7 million investment round announced Wednesday, bringing SquadLocker’s outside funding to about $18 million. Goldberg has also put in $4 million.
The company sells its products with the help of digital league management programs including SportsEngine, which was one of Causeway’s portfolio companies before being acquired by NBC Sports Group in 2016.
Bob Higgins, another managing partner at Causeway, sounded slightly cautious as he discussed SquadLocker’s strategy of taking on smaller local businesses, but he said the company is just following an economic trend.
“Every town had a stationery store before Staples came along,” he said. “And every town had a print shop before Vistaprint came along.”