US-based Bioworld Merchandise wants to bond with Indian pop culture community, acquires Voxpop


US based worldwide design and distribution of private label merchandise, Bioworld Merchandising has announced the acquisition of The deal is aimed to strengthen the product portfolio of apparel, accessories and footwear for both firms with over 100 brands across the entertainment industry. The size and structure of the deal has not been disclosed.

Founded in 1999, Bioworld has its offices in Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, London, Toronto and New Delhi. Launched in 2013 by ex-business head for Walt Disney, Siddharth Taparia, VoxPop has licenses for merchandise of brands such as Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, DC Comics and Warner Brothers. VoxPop is spread across sports, music, movies, TV shows, cult games and consumer brands categories. The company was pushing out close to 15-20 designs every month in 2014. Mumbai-based merchandiser raised seed funding of $400,000 from Blume Ventures, and other angels, followed by another $1 million round from Blume in November 2014.

According to reports shared in August 2015, VoxPop was planning to raise $7 million as a part of its Series A funding. At that time, the startup claimed to have a gross merchandise value of Rs 25 crore, witnessing close to 15,000 monthly transactions with about Rs 2 crore in sales per month.

Speaking about the acquisition, Siddharth Taparia, Founder and CEO, VoxPop said

VoxPop continues to be independent in the way it operates, we believe our combined strengths will unlock the opportunity to accelerate growth in the category. With a wider reach and deeper portfolio of products, we will maintain our position in the category of licensed merchandise, aiming to give the Indian consumer a one stop shop for all their pop culture merchandise needs.

This move from Bioworld is also to strengthen their business presence in India, increasingly targeting the growing pop culture merchandise market in the subcontinent.

Raj Malik, Founder and CEO of Bioworld Merchandising admits that this acquisition is a part of the firm’s overall growth strategy. Through this partnership, Bioworld aims to have direct access to the customer and foster a stronger bond with the growing pop culture community in India.

The pop culture burst

In 2014, the global merchandising industry was touted at upwards of $200 billion industry in markets like the US and Europe.

More than 12 known brands are operating in this space, including Jack of all Threads, Alma Mater, No Nasties and Brown Boy (organic cotton merchandises), aiming at scale. However, differentiation is going to be a key factor towards building brand presence for these companies.

Fakes and roadside pass-offs are also another major threat for these players. To add on to the heat, sites like Freecutlr are already promoting entrepreneurship by encouraging individuals to come out and sell designs on their website through partnerships.

Some of these brands are surviving with questionable unit economics and this acquisition doesn’t come off as a surprise, with more actions or shutdowns seeming to be underway in the sector.