Expanding into retail is an exciting milestone for any consumer brand, but it also brings daunting...
How Gel Blaster Grew from $5M to $70M+ Sales in One Year
Gel Blaster launched in 2019 as a direct-to-consumer brand selling recreational Gel Blaster products primarily through its online store. In late 2021, Walmart committed to launch Gel Blaster on end caps across all 3,800 US stores. The massive purchase order represented 50x their existing distribution but required multimillion dollar inventory outlays surpassing Gel Blaster’s funding capability.
Traditional loans weren’t an option for the early stage company. They needed flexible inventory financing to produce at scale and bridge the revenue cycle timing with Walmart’s payments.
By partnering with Lunr Capital, Gel Blaster secured the capital required to scale their emerging DTC business into a national retail powerhouse spanning more than 3,800+ Walmart retail locations almost overnight. Lunr Capital's ability to rapidly deploy capital and dynamically adapt to the shifting forecasts of a first-time national product rollout enabled Gel Blaster's rapid expansion.
With expertise in managing retail order cycles, Lunr Capital structured terms around Gel Blaster’s production and revenue calendars. The strategic partnership unlocked working capital for manufacturing when Gel Blaster needed it most.
Gel Blaster launched in 2019, filling a gap in the outdoor blaster space for kids who had outgrown foam dart blasters but weren’t ready for imitation fire-arm style blasters. Through a wildly successful 2020 Kickstarter campaign that raised about $300k, the founders were able to hire a small team to support website orders and fulfill bulk purchases for small independent retailers. As more kids got their hands on Gel Blaster products, they quickly caught on in popularity nationwide.
Gel Blaster’s viral growth caught the attention of Walmart buyers in late 2021. Walmart signaled interest in rolling out Gel Blaster products to 3,800 stores with prominent end-cap placement. Though excited by the opportunity, Gel Blaster knew its previous online sales and modest existing retail business paled in comparison to supplying thousands of Walmart shelves nationwide. Despite believing in the product, Walmart doubted this emerging company could meet the inventory demands associated with its massive retail footprint.
“You have to be selling a LOT of product to have the cash to produce enough inventory to fulfill chain-wide distribution at Walmart” explained Gel Blaster President Peyton Healey. Fulfilling orders would require a 50x increase in production that the team couldn't fund independently. How would they finance this level of production?
Traditional business loans weren’t an option. “We didn’t have the required five years of financial history. We haven’t even existed for five years,” Peyton explained. Gel Blaster needed funding flexible enough to meet the volatility of rocketship growth.
Lunr Capital Fuels Inventory to Match Walmart Scale
Suspecting that Gel Blaster’s success hinged on inventory production, the Gel Blaster team was connected to Lunr Capital by their local Walmart broker. After learning more about the product and Walmart’s commitments, Lunr Capital quickly put together an inventory financing package that helped Gel Blaster ramp production to meet over $70M in sales demand in under a year.
"That’s the only way we could have scaled so quickly - to use Lunr," said Peyton. By structuring terms to Gel Blaster's unique manufacturing and revenue cycles, Lunr Capital empowered the flexible inventory outlays needed to meet Walmart’s purchase orders.
“Under the setup we have with Lunr, we simply invoice Walmart for the inventory they buy, and as soon as Walmart pays it off, everyone gets paid, and we don't have to lay out the cash to make it happen.” With Lunr Capital taking care of the inventory and financing side of things, the Gel Blaster team had the bandwidth to focus on aggressive expansion.
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Lunr Capital played a pivotal role in the company’s expansion, offering guidance beyond just capital. They provided crucial support and flexibility, eventually making introductions to bigger distribution partners who could facilitate the kind of scale Gel Blaster was approaching. This support was key to Gel Blaster's ability to meet Walmart's evolving demands.
Rapid Growth Leads to Nationwide Availability
With Lunr Capital’s financial and strategic support, Gel Blaster became a viral retail product, hitting the shelves of Target, Costco and nearly every other U.S. retail chain. By tailoring capital and capabilities to the volatile projections of a breakout brand, Lunr Capital empowered Gel Blaster to scale at meteoric speed.
Scaling is never easy – and the Gel Blaster team encountered growth hurdles typical of unpredictable demand forecasts and a competitive marketplace. Despite these challenges, Lunr proved an exceptionally supportive financing partner invested in their success.
"Lunr genuinely takes care of their clients," explained Peyton Healey. "They don't just act as a lender but as a partner invested in your success. They focus on helping you succeed." For rapidly growing DTC brands, a financing partner able to nimbly respond to shifting needs makes all the difference.