The rapid growth of Omnia Fishing, an e-commerce retailer of fishing gear and tackle, has hooked the interest of anglers and funding from venture capital firms.
The Golden Valley-based startup was co-founded in 2018 by Matt Johnson, Dan Wick and Chris Morgal.
The site takes users through what the proper gear and tackle is for the lake they plan to fish, said Johnson, the company's chief executive.
"It's a contextual education of the consumer," Johnson said.
The company recently received $2.1 million in funding to build out the e-commerce site and inventory-management system.
The tackle industry is dominated by big-box retailers increasingly selling and promoting their own private-label products. As a result, there are now fewer mom-and-pop tackle shops.
With the shift, anglers are losing out on some of the tips and tricks that can be gleaned from local tackle shops, Johnson said.
Fishing lakes have different fish populations, fish densities, lake clarity, depths and differing seasonal patterns, depending on their location.
Omnia Fishing helps guide anglers through those variables by normalizing huge amounts data on 70,000 lakes across the country gathered from state departments of natural resources, other outside sources, their own roster of brand ambassadors and crowdsourced lake information.
"We call that shop-by-lake concept," Johnson said. "We have an algorithm that takes those details … and then recommends techniques, and then further refines that down to the product level."
Omnia Fishing offers about 9,000 products from 100 brands from its 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Golden Valley. "Our goal is to be at 20,000 products in 2021," Johnson said.
There are plenty of anglers who either don't need or don't want that advice. Omnia aims to serve those anglers with a best-in-class e-commerce experience.
"E-commerce companies are data companies these days," Johnson said. "We are definitely a data company who happen to sell product with the content we've created."
Last year, Omnia's revenue was 400% more than 2019, which was its first full year. In 2020, the company demonstrated it could scale its business model and proved the technology was sound.
"We got some tailwinds from COVID just because people were looking for online solutions. It kind of proved our model pretty quickly," Johnson said. "Our target for total sales is about a 300% year-over-year growth in 2021. But we are currently tracking at about 500% year-over-year growth in January and February."
The rapid growth has helped them reel in additional investors.
Omnia Fishing had raised $2.5 million from two previous rounds and still had some capital in the bank and was not actively seeking new funding.
"This was an inbound investment," Johnson said. "Our plan was to raise money in the summer and this allowed us to raise quickly and get back to work."
Johnson expects to get 18 to 24 months worth of runway with this latest round of financing, assuming growth plans don't accelerate significantly. The company has 10 employees and is adding more.
The $2.1 million in financing was led by Founder Collective and Dundee Venture Capital with participation from GAN Ventures, Sioux Falls Angels, Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund, Ralph Castner and Daren Cotter.
Bread & Butter Ventures, the Minneapolis-based venture-capital company of Brett Brohl, Mary Grove and Stephanie Rich, also participated in the current round.
Since forming, Bread & Butter has made investments in 10 Minnesota companies.
"The fishing industry is poised for continued growth nationwide, and we believe that Minnesota — and Omnia Fishing specifically — is well-positioned to lead the way by leveraging technology and e-commerce to modernize the experience," said Grove, Bread and Butter's managing partner. "We've known Matt and the Omnia team for years, and I can't think of a better team or a better place from which to build this."
Right now, Omnia's biggest constraints are supply-chain issues with some overseas suppliers and being able to stock product as quickly as possible.
The influx of cash will help with managing the company's growth.
"It's just been an absolute rat race over the last two years to just stock on as much as we can, as fast as we can, and to keep up with the growth of the consumer," Johnson said. "It's been great and this [latest fundraising] is going to be really helpful."
Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926