Partech Ventures leads $7 mln funding in PLAE

Partech Ventures has led a $7 million Series A funding round in PLAE, a lifestyle brand for children. Other participants in the funding include Floodgate, Western Technology Investment, Finn Capital, Cherubic Ventures and angel investors including Bruce Katz, founder of Rockport Shoes, Yasunobu Kyogoku, former COO of Uniqlo, Fabrice Grinda, Jose Marin and others. PLAE has raised a total of $10.8 million to date.

Press Release

PLAE (www.goplae.com), the tech-driven lifestyle brand for kids, announced today it has closed $7 million in Series A funding led by Paris-based Partech Ventures. Participants include Floodgate, Western Technology Investment, Finn Capital, Cherubic Ventures and notable angel investors including Bruce Katz, Founder of Rockport Shoes, Yasunobu Kyogoku, former COO of Uniqlo, Fabrice Grinda, Jose Marin, and others. With the newly-raised funds–bringing the company’s total capital raised to $10.8 million–PLAE will expand its global operations and fund growth, as well as invest in new product categories and cross-channel technologies.

The company’s first offering, a shoe for kids aged 3-8, won a prestigious Red Dot Award for its unique kid-centered approach to design, which yields products with an unparalleled blend of technology, fashion, function and fun. PLAE utilizes the same biometric technology usually reserved for Olympians and professional athletes in the creation of the brand’s shoes to produce “playground tough” durability and biomechanics ideal for growing kids.

Patent-pending interchangeable tabs give kids a way to “hack their shoes” while offering instant customization of style and fit. The shoes are made of top quality, eco-friendly materials and produced in a fair labor factory known for its environmentally friendly practices.

Since launch in late 2013, the company has grown at almost 100% per quarter and is on track to sell over 1,000,000 pairs of shoes in the next 12-18 months.

PLAE was founded by former Puma top designer Ryan Ringholz and is led by Silicon Valley tech startup veteran Jonathan Spier with the vision of merging traditional retail with new technology to create the first lifestyle brand for the touch generation. “Kids now expect everything within reach to respond to their touch and to have-it-their-way. Designing for this generation offers a keyhole view into the future of products and retail,” said Ringholz, PLAE founder and Chief Designer.

“Technology is transforming the future of retail, and we see an opportunity to be at the very forefront of how that future evolves. As a next-generation lifestyle brand, PLAE is rooted in tech and social media that we use across channels to power our consumer engagement and growth,” said Spier, CEO, PLAE. “This new funding will allow us to use technology in ways that we believe will be truly game-changing.”

PLAE shoes are sold online at www.goplae.com and in select Nordstrom stores nationwide as well as almost 200 top-tier retailers in the U.S. In addition, they are available in 22 countries including Japan (Takashimaya), Korea (Hyundai), Canada, the UK and UAE. The new investment will advance product design and innovation, as well as continue rapid growth in distribution.

ABOUT PLAE: Founded in 2012, PLAE creates quality, kid-centric design aimed at chasing wonder and imagination. PLAE shoes combine premium, eco-friendly materials with the biometric science often reserved for elite athletes to construct shoes that endure the rigorous demands of everyday play. Each pair features unique interchangeable straps designed to accommodate fit and fun. This cutting-edge concept allows for limitless looks on just one pair of shoes and the ability to customize fit – a bonus for parents who love variety, versatility and value. PLAE shoes are offered in whole and half sizes 8 toddler through 4.5 junior and retail starting at $49.95. Products are available in select domestic and international retailers and online at www.goplae.com.