The first women’s basketball footwear brand is one of the initial investments of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ new in-house venture capital fund.
The nation’s largest sporting good retailer has launched DSG Ventures, a $50 million in-house venture capital fund dedicated to sports products and technology. The fund will invest in innovative companies that, similar to Dick’s, hold the core belief that sports make people better, the retailer said.
DSG Ventures will initially focus on companies that directly serve athletes and their communities, or that help Dick’s better serve its own athletes. The fund has made five initial investments, including Moolah Kicks, described as the first and only women’s basketball performance footwear brand “built by and for female ballers,” andEL1 Sports, ayouth sports company offering baseball and softball instruction and team administrative support, with training facilities, camps, tournaments, and operating services.
Other investments includeCourtside Ventures, whichpartners with early-stage founders challenging the traditional definition of sports, gaming and wellness.
Additionally, DSG Ventures has invested in SidelineSwap, the world’s largest online marketplace for sporting goods, and Out&Back Outdoor, an online platform for buying and selling outdoor gear. It allows customers to bring select gear into participating Dick’s stores and receive a cash payment from Out&Back.
DSG Ventures is also working with innovation advisory VentureFuel on a retail innovation program to identify startups to collaborate with Dick’s on a pilot program around enhancing the customer experience. The pilot covers any area of the customer experience from e-commerce to in-store experience to AI.
“Dick’s would not be what it is today without the support we received along the way from others who saw our company’s potential,” said executive chairman Ed Stack. “Now DSG Ventures will enable us to give back and help support entrepreneurs achieve their dreams through our connections, experience and support. We know that DSG Ventures (and our partners) will bring innovative products, services and experiences to athletes around the world.”
In many cases, the fund will seek to help its companies grow by providing them with support and resources that go far beyond capital and include Dick’s distribution reach, industry-leading expertise in retail, operational excellence and relationship with athletes.
“The investment by Dick’s Sporting Goods, coupled with our distribution partnership, has propelled the Moolah Kicks brand from a basketball start-up to a category pioneer with a national footprint,” said Natalie White, founder and CEO of Moolah Kicks.
Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, Dick’s Sporting Goods operates more than 850 namesake, Golf Galaxy, Field & Stream and Public Lands stores. It also owns and operates Dick’s House of Sport and Golf Galaxy Performance Center, as well as GameChanger, a youth sports mobile app for scheduling, communications, live scorekeeping and video streaming.