Bullish on Bandit Running, our latest investment

April 10, 2024

Bandit is a community-centric apparel brand for runners. Based in Brooklyn, Co-Founders Nick West, Tim West, and Ardith Singh launched Bandit with members of the New York running community in Fall 2020. 

How we met

A startup we had a relationship with introduced us to Bandit. It was a very easy story to understand over email and we had marked the founder who connected us very high. We usually play it cool that early on, but we were excited to learn more and took the team up on their offer to see the Bandit store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

When we met Nick, Tim and Ardith, there was a good energy in the room and an instant connection on what they’re trying to do. We quickly understood the business (based on some of our investing values and brand building principles), and they were not only a really good example of them, but they also pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible. 

What clicked 

Bandit’s mission is to build a special brand for an existing community of people who are passionate about running and align with the virtues of being a runner. They are focused on creating a membership-first model with a premium product that is fashion-led instead of technology-led and are doing it from a content-centric angle. Those three things make a lot of sense when you're trying to build a true consumer brand in today's attention economy.

Why we committed 

We like to say that we always bet on the jockeys, not the horses, and what really got us excited about Bandit was its unique team. Nick and Tim are brothers and Ardith was thoughtfully brought on to round out their skillsets. One bleeds the business, one bleeds the brand, and one bleeds the product. That’s a really strong trio where one plus one plus one equals much more than three.

When we looked at the business, it was pacing really well, but not too fast. Bandit had incredible engagement, repeat rates, average order value, and lifetime value. The team is very smart about balancing supply and demand at the exact right level. They also had an operation in place where they could keep making remarkable products - in remarkable ways - that people wanted to increase that lifetime value. You could see the tangibility of the attachment, engagement, and love that customers have for this brand in all the traditional metrics, but also in the soft metrics.

Why Bandit will become a big brand

We believe Bandit is going to be an example for others to follow of how to build into a community instead of bolting one on to an existing business. In doing so, it’s going to write the playbook for how to start with a core group of users who are unmet at the desire level, build for them, and enroll them in the process so they feel like they're part of the company. Moving forward, there are going to be more things happening with Blockchain and NFTs, as well, that pull people into the brand and make them a part of it. Bandit is the poster child for a true “brand as commune” for a certain way of life and what a co-op created brand looks like in 2024 and beyond. 

Watch Bullish Managing Partner Brent Vartan in conversation with Bandit Co-Founder Nick West below.

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