SoftBank Ventures Asia, the early-stage venture capital arm of the SoftBank Group, has led the $56.4-million Series C funding in SODA, a Japanese e-commerce startup that also runs SNKRDUNK, the country’s top online sneaker marketplace.
The round was also participated by KREAM, a Korean sneaker reselling platform also backed by SoftBank Ventures Asia, and venture capitalists Altos Ventures and JAFCO. The Series C funding round is SoftBank Ventures Asia’s second investment in SODA.
In January, SoftBank Ventures Asia also led the $22-million Series B financing round in the Japanese sneaker sales platform, marking its first investment in Japan. To date, SODA’s total funding stands at $81.4 million.
Founded in 2018, SODA runs SNKRDUNK, Japan’s top online C2C marketplace for reselling sneakers with over 2.5 million monthly users. Following the Series C funding, the Japanese startup acquired Monokabu, the second-largest player in the country’s sneaker market.
The acquisition gives SODA 80% market share of the local sneaker resale industry.
“This investment has enabled us to make an important M&A that places us in a strong position in the Japanese sneaker resale market,” said SODA CEO Yuta Uchiyama.
With the fresh funding and the latest acquisition, Uchiyama said the company will expand to the rest of Asia, beginning with Indonesia and the Philippines next year.
SODA achieved record sales figures in May 2020 at $34.7 million, a 900% year-on-year growth, according to the announcement. The company ahs been applying AI to automate its operations and enhance its counterfeit inspection.
SoftBank Ventures Asia, which was founded in 2000 to make ICT investments in the fields of AI, IoT, and smart robotics, sees the global sneaker resale market increasing by more than 20% annually to hit about $30 billion by 2030.
“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 JP Lee, CEO of SoftBank Ventures Asia.
The early-stage venture investor currently operates approximately $1.5 billion assets under management, investing in innovative technology start-ups across the world.