A lot of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are being funded these days, as the digital-first economy continues to gain traction. However, not a lot of that funding goes to 29-year-olds. The exception to that rule is CEO Tom DeSernia, who has grown and now funded one of the outdoor categories’ fastest-growing firms, SA Company.
Founded in 2014, SA Company has evolved with the pandemic, and is on its way to getting a capital investment and operational expertise from one of its venture capital and marketing partners, TZP Group. After being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019, DeSernia has led the company from its foundational outdoor apparel and accessories to its most recent pivot of creating and selling its Face Shield line of gaiter-like tubular bandanas.
DeSernia believes that his value proposition – to create innovative, affordable products that enhance the outdoor experience – has helped the company stand out in a crowded marketplace. That approach has generated revenue of more than $100 million so far, as the pandemic has accelerated demand for affordable outdoor apparel. In addition to its unspecific capital investment, TZP will also help support the company’s operations, marketing, customer strategy and new product development.
DeSernia is grateful for the funding as well as the expertise, freely admitting that his success story is one that started in his bedroom in Florida, far away from the tech hubs of San Francisco and New York City.
“Strictly from an outdoors perspective, the brand grew primarily because we did a great job of providing quality gear at affordable prices,” DeSernia said. “That’s always been our goal, because we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to access the outdoors without sacrificing quality. So when the pandemic hit, everybody went outdoors – and we had the product line ready to help shield them from the elements. And we provided that piece of fun design that let people express who they really are.”
The relationship with TZP has been unique. Before the capital infusion, DeSernia said it was a partner that helped SA think through opportunities to enhance its business and position it for success. He expects the investor relationship to accelerate its business growth, with an emphasis on executing in the digital-first economy.
“SA Company has significantly disrupted the outdoor lifestyle apparel business by focusing on value, comfort and style, providing quality products at competitive prices in fishing, hunting, boating and similar outdoor verticals,” said Dan Galpern, partner at TZP. “We were impressed by Thomas’ and his team’s execution, and the strong financial performance and scalability of the SA Company business model, the foundation of which was built on an exceptional D2C brand. With a solid platform in place, strong profitability and a loyal, growing community of outdoor enthusiasts, the company is well-positioned to benefit from the continued outdoor and eCommerce industry tailwinds.”
“We have to be very methodical in the way we run our company,” DeSernia noted. “We have to run through all data and be very understanding and calculated in how we continue building our brand. That requires listening to our consumers and making sure we’re engaging with them. When someone wears an SA face shield, we want it to be a conversation piece. In that way, we see more and more people having conversations with the brand.”