Isadore Apparel 2021
The Slovak company Isadore Apparel is back on the platform after 2 years. The initial investment kick-started significant new customer growth and enabled the brand to successfully establish itself on international markets in the early days of the pandemic. The entrepreneurial success of the Velits brothers with the involvement of Crowdberry investors continues further on the path to being a globally recognised player in their market. Already today, the Isadore brand is represented on 5 continents and has managed to achieve above average customer loyalty thanks to well-targeted marketing and an effective online platform. It currently has over 30 thousand registered customers from 80 countries. In 2020, the company recorded record sales of more than EUR 2.9 million, 40% of which were in German-speaking countries.
Isadore offers premium products made from quality natural and technical materials with an emphasis on functionality, comfort, style. The basic principles that are part of the company's DNA are an ecological approach, sustainability of production and localness. In design and production, the company uses the rich experience of the founders – Peter and Martin Velits, from the professional cycling world. Its offer responds to the needs of cyclists, allowing them to fully enjoy the feeling of freedom and the joy of riding. Through the online platform, it wants to create a space not only for direct sales to male and female customers from all over the world, but also to connect partners and communities of cyclists with an active lifestyle, even beyond cycling.
In doing so, Isadore Apparel is creating value for its co-owners internationally and the new capital is intended to prepare the company for investment from professional funds in Western Europe for entry into overseas and Asian markets. The Slovak company from Puchov will thus become a truly global brand.
About the investment opportunity
Company and product
Brothers Martin and Peter Velits, both former professional cyclists, started a new phase of their professional life in business in 2013, bringing cycling apparel and products to the market that they personally missed during their days as active cyclists. They wanted to respond to the demands and needs of cyclists – pro and enthusiast – around the world. And it was the idea for cyclists by cyclists that was behind the creation of their company Isadore Apparel. They specialize in high quality, highly functional, modern, and stylish cycling apparel made in accordance with ethical principles and in the most sustainable way possible.
The founders of the company work with the fact that cycling has long been the domain of a few enthusiasts. It has spread to the broad masses who see it not just as a sport, but as a certain lifestyle. Therefore, they want to become a widely recognized brand among passionate cyclists, create a global platform and offer everything for an active cycling lifestyle.
The company prides itself on handmade quality merino materials that are highly breathable, thermo-regulating, odour-resistant and gentle on the skin. This will allow not only professional cyclists, but also enthusiasts, to enjoy cycling in comfort in all weathers. In addition, the combination of merino materials with special man-made recycled fibers gives Isadore products not only comfort but also high durability with an emphasis on sustainability.
Isadore Apparel products fall into the affordable premium segment. They are characterized by superior quality in a variety of colors, cuts and material types for a wide range of customers who will enjoy the ride, the freedom and the most beautiful moments while cycling. It is worth mentioning, for example, the Merino jacket with OSRAM active lighting, which increases the rider's visibility and therefore his or her safety several times. Furthermore, in collaboration with HJC, they have developed an extremely lightweight helmet with significant protection capability that has multiple customisation options.
Isadore works with certified suppliers who share similar environmental and social values. The main supplier in Slovakia is Makyta a.s. Púchov. Isadore also cooperates with other specialized Slovak and European manufacturers. All garments are produced in accordance with international standards OEKO-TEX® and bluesign®, which represent the pursuit of sustainability of fabrics and a responsible approach to employees in factories. Moreover, thanks to the cooperation with local companies, the company is able to respond flexibly to market needs, which proved its worth during the pandemic outbreak.
The main sales channel is the company's own e-shop www.isadore.com. Isadore products are available virtually worldwide. They are particularly in demand in German-speaking countries with a well-developed cycling culture. At the same time, they strive to deepen closer contact with the customer by building partnerships and so-called cycling communities. For this reason, in 2021 they opened a "Community Hub" with their first shop in a former Bratislava spinning mill (Pradiareň, Cvernovka).
Over the time of its operation, Isadore Apparel has built a loyal and active customer base with lower price sensitivity, where customers are willing to pay more for a premium product and thus participate in the brand's sustainable approach and values. Well-targeted marketing campaigns help the brand to do this. Among those with the greatest success and impact were the advertising spots aired on Eurosport during the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021. This campaign reached a total of 21 million viewers in 53 countries and generated an immediate increase in web visits (+277%), new customers (+342%) and online sales (+250%). In terms of success, it even outperformed the campaigns of the biggest competitors, such as La Passione (with a disproportionately lower budget).
The Isadore brand was founded by Martin and Peter Velits, former professional cyclists who each had a career in professional cycling spanning more than a decade. Peter provides the overall strategy for the company and makes sure that all parts of the company work well together. From the initial idea to the sketch of the product, the development is covered by Martin and his team. In 2021 they brought Tomas Rosival into the company, who has worked with Isadore for a long time in the role of CFO (Chief Financial Officer). Tomáš has many years of experience at PwC in Slovakia and the UK and in managing international financial audits.
The stellar team is rounded out by marketing operations brains Juraj Pobjecký, who handles brand building, Boris Štefánik, who deals primarily with offline marketing, and Marek Šulik, who handles support in the online space. This team, with a limited budget and without the cooperation of an external marketing agency, managed to win several prestigious marketing awards, including gold at the prestigious Effie Awards Europe 2021 in the Retail category with the Cycling Struggles campaign and the slogan "Road is the way of life". (video preview in the gallery).
Market and competition
Aim of the investment
HNonline.sk: Úspešná Euro EFFIE pre slovenskú reklamu. Ocenenia si odnášajú tri práce
Strategie.sk: Značka Isadore bratov Velitsovcov predstavila ekologickú inováciu vo svete cyklistiky
Startitup.sk: Bratia Velitsovci predstavujú svoju prvú špeciálnu predajňu. Bude tam kaviareň i premietacia stena
Forbes.sk: Bratia Velitsovci rozširujú svoj biznis: V Bratislave otvárajú prvú kamennú predajňu a hub
DennikN.sk: Velits o biznise s cyklodresmi: Slovenských zákazníkov sme podcenili, bola to chyba
SME.sk: Moderní: Dresy vyrábajú z PET fliaš. Velitsovci uspeli v peletóne, aj v podnikaní
Forbes.sk: Reklamy mesiaca: slovenský Isadore zaujal v cudzine...
Mediar.cz: Reklama cyklistické značky Isadore během Tour de France bavila po celém světe
Startitup.sk: Museli sme hodiť do koša celý marketing na tento rok. Koronakríza nám paradoxne pomohla, hovoria Velitsovci