Building a global brand with a raving fan base is never easy, but NOBULL Co-Founder and CEO Marcus Wilson has done just that. Wilson and his business partner Michael Schaeffer launched the athletic footwear and apparel training brand in 2015 after working in marketing and brand strategy at Reebok and Bose. In mid-2021, Exeter Capital injected a fresh round of private equity capital into NOBULL, which valued it at more than $500 million.
Wilson says he has been very thoughtful in the way that he and his team at NOBULL have gone about their capital raises. The company's Series A investors were Smash Ventures, led by two people who worked for Disney (one who lead venture and growth deals for The Walt Disney Company, another who was a member of its corporate strategy and business development team) and had a lot of experience in media and entertainment. And Steve Collins at Exeter Capital was on the board at lululemon years ago and has a lot of experience about growth in direct to consumer businesses, which can help the company look forward to where there might be potholes in the road.
"That's what in our minds, mine and Michael's, makes a really good partnership and really something that's important to look for in investors — investors that are going to complement the things that you're doing well and also help you see what's further down the road," he says.
In deploying the capital, Wilson says it's about expanding the infrastructure.
"One of the things that Michael and I have been talking a lot about is we're super proud of where we are and we know what has gotten us here will not get us to where we're going," he says. "Matter of fact, it will limit our ability to grow. So, what it takes to be a rapidly growing startup is very different than what it takes to become a rapidly growing and a sustainable and healthy way business, and that's what we've been really focused on."
At this stage, he says it's about building out infrastructure from a team perspective. The company recently brought on a GM of NOBULL Europe, Sam Kitching, who has begun building out the infrastructure in Europe as the company lays the groundwork for a presence there. The company is also investing in its supply chain and expects to move into a new headquarters soon, all while it ramps up production.
"The challenge that most NOBULL customers have experienced is we're often out of product, so we always are working on that and we're always ordering a lot more, but demand continues to exceed supply," he says. "It's a good problem to have to a certain point but we're trying to fix it for everybody."
Wilson spoke at the Boston Smart Business Dealmakers Conference about myriad lessons learned on his — and the company’s — whirlwind journey, including what investors bring to the table beyond funding and why building an engaged community of loyal customers has been the real key to success.