February 16, 2024

Comfort, Quality, and Entrepreneurial Vision: The Sportiqe Apparel Journey

A Deep Dive with Co-Founder Matt Altman on Building a Lifestyle Brand in the Competitive Apparel Market


In the bustling world of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales, few stories resonate as vividly as that of Sportiqe Apparel. Founded on the principles of quality, design, and entrepreneurial spirit, Sportiqe has carved a niche in the lifestyle apparel industry, offering premium experiences to consumers and businesses alike. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Matt Altman, the visionary co-founder and CEO of Sportiqe, to delve into the journey, strategies, and insights that have propelled the brand to its esteemed position today.

Matt Altman, CEO and Co-founder of Sportiqe


Can you share a bit about your background and what inspired the inception of Sportiqe?

Matt Altman: Thanks, Chris, happy to be here. I'm Matt Altman, the co-founder and CEO of Sportiqe Apparel. Our company is a testament to premium lifestyle apparel, offering a tailored consumer experience. Our journey began in the B2B sector, serving clients across various industries, including the NBA, Nintendo, and the Grand Ole Opry. My entrepreneurial journey was fueled by a 12-year stint in professional sports and merchandising, working with the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. This experience, combined with a desire to fill a gap in the destination retail market, led to the birth of Sportiqe in 2006, alongside my business partner Jason Franklin. We aimed to offer better quality and design in apparel, bridging the gap between boutique fashion and classic sportswear for fans and consumers looking for more than just ordinary team store offerings.

Can you elaborate on your marketing strategies during the early days, especially how you introduced your products to the market, and how these strategies have evolved over time?

Matt Altman: Initially, our approach wasn't centered around marketing in the traditional sense but rather on our product and service quality. Our foray into the market was highlighted by our offerings to destination retail, introducing products that were on trend and filled a void for consumers seeking higher-quality, unique designs. A prime example was our collaboration with the Dave Matthews Band, which showcased our ability to capture the attention of fans who were previously unsatisfied with the merchandise available at events. Our goal was to introduce something unique and superior to the market, and that's exactly what we did.

In 2018, you expanded into the D2C model. What prompted this strategic shift, and how did you identify the demand for Sportiqe's products directly from consumers?

Matt Altman: The leap into D2C was driven by a clear demand from our customers. We noticed a trend of inquiries from individuals who had purchased our products at events or venues, seeking to explore more of what Sportiqe had to offer. This feedback was a strong indicator of the potential for a D2C model, allowing us to broaden our reach and directly engage with our consumer base.

With the D2C model now a significant part of your business, how has Sportiqe navigated the challenges and opportunities in this sector over the past few years, especially considering the impact of COVID-19?

Matt Altman: The D2C journey has been one of steady growth, with COVID-19 unexpectedly serving as a catalyst for increased interest in our products. The pandemic highlighted the value of comfort and functionality in apparel, aligning perfectly with our brand's ethos. While our B2B segment remains the core of our business, the D2C model has shown promising growth, driven by strategic marketing and a deep understanding of our audience's needs.

Could you share some insights into Sportiqe's marketing strategies over the last five years and how you've managed to grow in a highly competitive market?

Matt Altman: In a market saturated with options, our brand promise centers on comfort and quality. It's about crafting an experience that feels good, from wearing our apparel to engaging with our brand. Effective digital strategies and leveraging brand ambassadors have been pivotal in connecting with our audience, and differentiating Sportiqe in a crowded space.

Do you have any advice for our subscribers on managing cash flow effectively?

Matt Altman: Cash flow is indeed the lifeblood of any business. It's vital to understand the cadence of your cash needs and manage inventory effectively, as inventory is essentially cash in another form. Entrepreneurs must focus on cash flow management from day one, ensuring they have a clear strategy for maintaining positive cash flow through careful planning and forecasting.

As we look forward, how did Sportiqe fare in 2023, and what are your aspirations for the brand in 2024?

Matt Altman: 2023 was a fantastic year for us, and we're aiming for even greater success in 2024, with projected growth in the 15-20% range company-wide and an ambitious 70% growth target for our D2C segment. We see immense potential in direct consumer engagement and are excited to explore this further.

Lastly, for those embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, could you offer a piece of advice to help them start on the right foot?

Matt Altman: The key is to validate your business idea, ensuring there's a niche and a need for your product or service. Understanding your numbers, including costs, gross margins, and potential cash flow, is crucial. Entrepreneurs should aim to forecast and plan meticulously, adapting and pivoting as necessary to navigate the dynamic business landscape.

Chris Choi: Matt, your insights today have been incredibly valuable. Thank you for sharing your journey with Sportiqe Apparel and offering practical advice for our readers. Your blend of innovation, quality, and strategic growth is truly inspiring.

Key Takeaways:

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Matt's background in sports and merchandising laid the foundation for Sportiqe's success.
  • Market Gap: Identifying and filling a gap in the destination retail space with high-quality, well-designed apparel.
  • D2C Expansion: The strategic shift to D2C in 2018 opened new growth avenues, driven by consumer demand.
  • Marketing Strategy: Owning the concept of comfort and engaging with the target audience through effective marketing and brand ambassadors.
  • Financial Wisdom: The importance of cash flow management and inventory control in sustaining and growing a business.
  • Future Growth: Sportiqe aims for significant growth in 2024, with a focus on expanding its D2C segment.

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