Tokyo-based startup SODA, which runs Japan’s leading sneaker resale platform, has received $56.4 million in a third round of funding. The new funds will enable the fashion marketplace to move into other Asian markets, with Indonesia and the Philippines first on the list for expansion next year.
SNKRDUNK has 2.5 million users a month. SODA, which was set up in 2018, said that Indonesia and the Philippines were being targeted for expansion due to their buoyant e-commerce scenes and young demographics.
Investors in the Series C funding round included SoftBank Group, South Korean sneaker resale site KREAM, and venture capital firms Altos Ventures from the U.S. and JAFCO from Japan.
A spokesperson for SoftBank Ventures Asia, which led SODA’s Series B funding, told TechCrunch that SODA’s rapid growth had persuaded it to put more money into the company. The cash injection values SODA at around Y24 billion ($218 million U.S.).
“We are honoured to receive the support of SBVA and KREAM, as well as their belief in both us and the industry,” SODA CEO Yuta Uchiyama told The Asset. “This investment has enabled us to make an important merger and acquisition that places us in a strong position in the Japanese sneaker resale market. Now, our sights are set on enhanced digitalization and a full-fledged future expansion to the rest of Asia, beginning with Indonesia and the Philippines next year.”
SoftBank Ventures Asia has made several bets on the sneaker resale industry, with other investments in KREAM of South Korea, as well as China-based Nice.
SoftBank led SODA’s $22 million Series B funding in January, when CEO Yuta Uchiyama told TechCrunch that growing openness to online purchases was boosting sales, and that demand for footwear on the site had held up despite challenges presented by Covid-19.
“With the global sneaker resale market increasing by more than 20% annually and estimated to hit close to $30 billion U.S. by 2030, we believe there is strong growth potential in the industry. We expect that the volume of sneaker resale transactions produced by our portfolio companies in South Korea, China and Japan will exhibit a high growth curve, and we will actively utilize SBVA’s global network to help them create more strategic synergy and lead the Asian market,” said SoftBank Ventures Asia CEO JP Lee.
SODA reported record sales of $34.7 million in May 2021, a surge of 900% year-on-year, according to Yahoo.
Fellow sneaker resale platforms, such as GOAT and StockX, have been among the fashion marketplaces to thrive during the pandemic, as economic shutdowns have driven penny-pinched consumers to economize.
In Japan, the cachet of vintage apparel and cultural dislike of waste underpin the sector, say commentators.