Goal Five received a growth capital investment of $500K from ICA’s Growth Fund in 2021
As a company that specializes in technical sports apparel for women, Oakland-based Goal Five always aimed to serve the wide-ranging needs of women with active lifestyles. But as the shelter-in-place orders rolled out last spring and life was moved indoors, the notion of who uses activewear on a regular basis shifted dramatically.
Goal Five saw an explosion of demand among those looking to stay active, as well as those simply looking to stay comfortable while working from home. Yet despite this boon, the pandemic inevitably introduced significant challenges –two days after their spring shipment arrived, Goal Five got word that their production factory was halting operations due to the pandemic.
The company sprung into action to make necessary adjustments, part of which included applying to ICA’s Rapid Response Relief Fund. The zero-interest loan provided a much-needed infusion of operating capital, and in the months that followed, the business steadily regained its footing. In March of this year, Goal Five secured a $500,000 investment from ICA’s Growth Fund as the lead investment in a $3.5 million equity investment round.
Below, Co-Founder Ann Kletz discusses the adjustments she made in response to the crisis and how ICA’s support ultimately helped facilitate a stunning achievement in 2020—a record 500% year-over-year growth—with even more ambitious goals on the horizon.
Demand skyrocketed in those early months, but factory shutdowns became a huge obstacle very quickly. What were some of the first steps you took to mitigate the immediate challenges related to the pandemic?
I quickly developed a “moving forward” plan for the company, and part of that was making the difficult decision to take our staff part-time for about two months to cut costs. And with all the factory closures, we soon realized that we would only be able to produce two styles: our best-selling short and our best-selling top. Our small but mighty product team really worked wonders to make that adjustment possible.
Goal Five is different from many ICA companies in that you didn’t participate in any of the accelerator programs prior to receiving financial support. How did you first come into contact with ICA, and what was that experience like in the context of the pandemic?
I’d actually first been introduced to the ICA team just before the pandemic. We won a pitch contest at Harvard Business School on March 4, and we had three lead investors coming out of that—ICA being one of them. But then the pandemic hit. And ICA was the one lead that stayed with us; the two others had to decline, because they couldn’t raise their own funds.
It was such a wonderful connection. It’s incredibly important to me that potential investors believe in our mission, and in every regard, this was the perfect fit for us; I knew it right away.
We were a new kind of investment for them—they’d never worked in apparel or direct-to-consumer before this—and they were willing to take a chance on us. We hatched a relationship built on trust and transparency, in which neither side is afraid to talk about our vulnerabilities. There are not a lot of investors out there like ICA.
What did that infusion of emergency cash from ICA’s Rapid Response Relief Fund mean for Goal Five at the time, and what does it represent for recovery and growth going forward?
I grasped at every type of emergency loan I could apply for, including the no-interest emergency loan from ICA via the Rapid Response Relief Fund. It was literally a lifeline for our company, and I was just so impressed with the program.
ICA wasn’t going to make me jump through a bunch of hoops; they just got it right away. It was amazing and very unusual. It enabled us to bring staff back full time, and I was actually able to issue restricted stock options to the team as well.
How do you anticipate ICA’s initial investment helping you raise additional funding going forward?
We had our initial close on our $3.5 million seed round on March 5th, which ICA led with their investment. But post initial close, they are still so engaged. They’ve continued to work with me to make introductions to help find some of the other fill-in investments, which has been amazing. We’ve also been able to bring on two additional senior leaders, as well as some junior marketing members.
How do you envision ICA’s support continuing to help Goal Five grow in 2021 and beyond?
We are Type-A overachievers and we set this crazy goal for 2021: We are attempting 5X growth. And I’m happy to say that right now, we are on track to hitting that target. The money from this round is going to make that next big growth step possible.
Learn more about Goal Five at goalfive.com.