SidelineSwap is a new online destination for athletes of all ages to buy, sell, and trade new and used sporting equipment. The peer-to-peer marketplace also features a social component where users can display their gear in virtual ‘lockers’, send messages to other users and comment on their gear.
For younger athletes in particular, the social aspect of SidelineSwap encourages a new approach to the secondhand market. Co-Founder Brendan Candon explains, “It changes the way kids feel about shopping used, because it’s cool, it’s something they do themselves.”
SidelineSwap got its start in 2012, but with a re-launch in Spring 2015, the site has gained the momentum to become a viable online marketplace. Candon reports that SidelineSwap currently has 50,000 registered users, 10,000 sellers, and over $1 million in product listed for sale.
Candon and co-founder Anthony Piazza grew up playing a variety of different sports and played Division I lacrosse, (Candon for Holy Cross, and Piazza for Bucknell). After college, Candon was coaching lacrosse and needed some new gear. Unwilling to buy a new lacrosse stick which can cost more than $200, Candon went to Piazza to buy one of his old sticks for $50.
The exchange sparked a discussion about opportunities to streamline these transactions online, and how to develop a space that athletes are excited to be involved with. Candon explains:
“We’re at the cross of two industries. One is sporting goods, so how do people shop for sporting goods, what do they think about and how do we improve that experience. But we’re also a marketplace and tech company. So how do we create a platform that makes it really easy and social and fun.”
Candon says the most challenging aspect of building SidelineSwap has been creating a scalable marketplace.
“You need hundreds of thousands or millions of users for this really to be a successful business. We’ve gotten some initial traction and it’s getting much easier, but the biggest challenge was definitely getting the initial supply and then getting people to come on and buy.”
This autumn, SidelineSwap was one of 26 finalists in the Boston MassChallenge Accelerator.
“What MassChallenge did was basically give us a home. Now we have a shared workspace, but more importantly, access to this huge group of mentors.”
SidelineSwap has raised about $500,000 towards a funding round, will be expanding their team from four to seven employees by the end of the year, and hopes to release an iOS app early next year. Candon says the ultimate goal is to ensure anyone interested in trying these new sports has access to affordable gear.
“The equipment gets really pricey. And there’s kids that can’t play because their parents can’t afford to buy gear for multiple sports. And with Play It Again going out of business, not only do we think this is a good business opportunity, but it’s important that this exists. I want to make sure that the next generation of kids who wants to go try lacrosse or hockey has a place to go.”