Hickies says it raised $10 million in the latest round of financing from Sforza Holdings and two other investors, taking the total funding for the development of its smart shoe lacing system up to $16 million. One of the top three global footwear brands, whose name was not revealed, made another investment to keep its minority stake in the capital increase.
Sforza is the company that recently bought a Brazilian brand of sports shoes, Rainha, from Alpargatas. It also bought some of the rights to its Topper brand of athletic footwear from the same Brazilian group. Sforza is owned by Carlos Wizard Martins, a Brazilian entrepreneur who made a fortune three years ago from the sale of an English language program to Pearson.
The founders of Hickies as well as Peter Mahrer and Ralf Puschmann, who manage Hickies' international operations, are still financially involved in the brand. Gaston Frydlewski, co-founder and chief executive, retains a majority of the voting rights.
Hickies has shipped more than two million sets worldwide since it was first launched in 2012. The system is currently distributed in 40 countries, and Hickies will enter Brazil next year through the company that sells Rainha and Topper in the country. It has launched an improved version of its system in the U.S., and its distribution may be extended to the rest of the world in the second quarter of 2017.