RunKeeper vet launches Rally, an Etsy for sports fans

Shirt by Elliot Gerard -
Shirt by Elliot Gerard -

A sports fanatic since he was a kid, Chas Wagner also has a love for sports merchandise and apparel — T-shirts, jerseys, and the like. But, Wagner says, he has a special fondness for items with “personality or uniqueness.”

“When you go to Dick’s or City Sports, it’s the same old, same old. It’s the same generic, mass-produced  items,” he said.

Late last year, Wagner opted to depart his job as community manager at Boston’s RunKeeper, maker of a popular run-tracking app, which he’d held since early 2012. He left to create Rally, a marketplace that aims to provide an easier way to find unique sports apparel and merchandise.

The site has about 30 sellers right now, and contains both hard-to-find vintage items along with original items created by artists and designers.

“They’re making their own stuff — a T-shirt, an iPad case — really quickly, and really well done,” Wagner said. “The problem is they don’t have a good place to put that stuff and get exposure and visibility.”

Rally is serving as that place, leading Wagner to dub it the “Etsy for sports fans.” Among the most popular items on the site so far is the shirt pictured above, created after Carmello Anthony re-signed with the New York Knicks.

“I’m really trying to focus on the creator side, fostering new products and brands coming to market,” Wagner said. “It’s easier for us to get products out to market than for the traditional retailer. Our sellers are quick, nimble — they don’t need to get approval from five different committees.”

Wagner launched Rally as a Shopify online store at the start of the year, and in late May debuted it as a standalone site.

He previously had been working out of Workbar in Cambridge and is now seeking space at another incubator in the area. Wagner is the only full-timer for now (he has worked with freelancers and taught himself to code to get the site up). He’s hoping to raise an angel round in the near future to build out the team and expand the site.

Rally takes 10 percent of each sale, with the rest going to the seller.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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