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Kohli-Backed Fashion Brand Raises INR 30 Cr Debt Funding

The parent company of brands such as WROGN, Imara and Ms Taken has raised the funds from Vistra ITCL through Spark Alternative Investment Trust

Last year, Flipkart had invested in Universal Sportsbiz Pvt Ltd (USPL) in its Series F round

Besides Kohli, it counts former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar as an investor

Bengaluru-based fashion company Universal Sportsbiz Pvt Ltd (USPL) is raising INR 30 Cr (about $4 Mn) in debt funding from independent corporate trustee Vistra ITCL (India) Limited on behalf of Spark Alternative Investment Trust.

According to the Ministry Of Corporate Affairs filing accessed by Inc42, USPL has approved the allotment of 300 redeemable and non-convertible debentures (NCD) having the face value of INR 10 Lakh per share to raise a total of INR 30 Cr.

USPL was founded by Anjana Reddy in 2012 and is backed by ecommerce giant Flipkart, venture capital fund Accel as well as celebrities such as cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. 

USPL’s portfolio of brands includes WROGN, a men’s casual wear brand; Imara, a women’s contemporary ethnic fashion brand; and Ms Taken, a women’s western wear line. The company has forged multiple partnerships with sports and movie personalities to co-create these apparel brands, which are sold online as well as through the retail channels. 

Last year, USPL bagged an investment from Flipkart in its Series F round, which also saw Accel invest. The two companies entered a strategic partnership to bolster USPL’s presence on Flipkart and expand the ecommerce companies fashion portfolio. 

Besides ecommerce websites and its own native platform, USPL’s brands have a presence in over 750 retail outlets in over 100 cities in India. The company said during its fundraise last year that it had seen 40-50% year-on-year growth. 

In October 2020, the company raised 19.3 Cr ($2.6 Mn) in funding from India cricket captain Kohli with participation from sports talent management firm Cornerstone Sport. Then in November, Flipkart invested in USPL.

Prior to this, in 2018, Universal Sportsbiz had raised $13.5 Mn (INR 100 Cr) in a Series E funding round at a post-money valuation of $163 Mn (INR 1,200 Cr) from Accel. 

D2C Brands Gain Celebrity Backing, Investments 

Celebrities backing new-age D2C brands companies and co-creating products or private labels with them has been a big trend in the Indian market in the past couple of years. Celebrities are no longer just endorsing products or brands but are highly involved in the business from making investments to co-owning them. 

Earlier this month, cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his investment in D2C food and beverage company 7InkBrews, and also signed up as the company’s brand ambassador. The startup will launch a new brand of handcrafted chocolates called Copter7 in association with the cricketer. 

Similarly, in February, former tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi’s D2C beauty and wellness brand Scentials raised about $6 Mn funding from domestic private equity firm TIW Private Equity (TIW PE). The company has created co-branded products with celebrities such as Kohli, Lara Dutta and Salman Khan.

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