Why I sold my sneaker startup at MVP stage

Introducing kickpush — a sneaker marketplace using people and technology to make selling simple again.


The Idea

June 9, 2012 was a day that will live in infamy. Nike released the Air Yeezy II sneaker and within minutes, resellers started selling them on eBay. The highest pair sold for $90,000 dollars.

I spent a year searching for a pair, but ultimately didn’t trust anybody online because I couldn’t confirm authenticity. The idea of kickpush was born the following summer after I saw someone wearing the very shoes I couldn’t get my hands on.

The Sneaker Problem

For many, sneakers are more than something you put on your feet; they’re an obsession. There is a cottage industry of independent sneaker resellers who figured out how to make money, but how do you know if you’re buying authentic pairs? Why does this problem even exist?

Hype

  • It’s nearly impossible to buy sneakers at retail price due to limited quantities and Internet bots hijacking pairs in shopping carts

A new market

  • A secondary market exists on eBay, Craigslist, Instagram, Facebook, and consignment shops, where pricing is correlated to hype

Counterfeits

  • The secondary market is flooded with fake products that many people fall victim to buying

The Consumer Problem

Resellers

  • Resellers pay high listing and payment fees, and it’s not convenient — too much time to sell, price, and ship

Buyers

  • Buyers are buying with uncertainty and face being scammed or hurt with in-person transactions

The Solution

kickpush was designed to put consumers at ease by uniting resellers and buyers into one platform that uses people and technology to authenticate sneakers.

Revenue Streams

  • Fixed pricing commission based on total sale
  • Premium membership services
  • Partnerships with brands for sneaker releases
Pitch deck

The Real MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

I decided our minimum viable product would be a clickable prototype, lifestyle video, and a landing page. Our main goal was to show users how easy the app was to use.

Money was something we didn’t have a lot of, so we decided not to spend any on development without interest from users. We took an iterative approach to the prototype and incorporated real-time feedback from sneaker enthusiasts on reddit, forums, and friends.

Pitch deck

The people were interested and we had an 85% response rate for interviews, surveys, and product demos. I was lucky enough to review the prototype with Sports Industry Analyst & Sneaker Economist, Matt Powell and received many great insights.

After our initial round of research, we had over 100 features and knew we needed to streamline them for prototype. We wanted to include all of them, but it didn’t make sense to design a ton of features without knowing users would use the product.

Agile Design

After narrowing down our backlog of features, I taught myself how to use Sketch and designed my first iOS app.

Clickable Prototype

I needed a way to make the design come to life and discovered Marvel (I was even featured on their homepage). It worked so well, investors thought we had built an iOS app for product demos.

Landing Page

Lifestyle Video

The Sale

After many investor meetings, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse: a complete buyout. I didn’t want to build something from the ground up and decided to sell. My decision wasn’t easy and I had to reflect on my exit strategy: own a real pair of Nike Air Yeezy II’s.

I bought them last week.

Yeezy taught me well.