A popular sneaker market platform is getting a kick up in its bank account. Kicks Crew, a marketplace for high-end sneakers with a direct-to-consumer focus, announced a close of $6M in Series A funding on March 9by led by Gobi Partners, Pacific Century Group, and COMPLEX CHINA.
The Hong Kong-based firm was launched in 2008 by Johnny Mak, CEO, and Ross Adrian Yip, COO, with a vision to make a sneaker platform accessible to all. Initially launched as a platform-focused resell business working with numerous direct-to-consumer platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Tmall and JD. As the community grew via the brand’s channels, the platform shifted to a direct-to-consumer model in 2021, which led to exponential growth.
Now armed with capital to expand further, Yip says the money will support the Kicks Crew team. “Our goal is to build the best buying and selling experience. We’ll be using the proceeds primarily to recruit best-in-class talent to join our product and engineering teams. In addition, we will focus on scaling our creative, brand and communications teams to raise brand and customer awareness; we’re currently working on some exciting brand partnership opportunities that we’ll share in due course,” Yip said over an email interview.
The platform’s US market is a primary focus for ‘aggressive’ expansion with a new Los Angeles headquarters and warehouse planned to establish a domestic footprint in the US. Simultaneously the duo will be looking to expand their DTC model, breaking into the Asian markets of Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. “Our competitive strengths and global presence give us a strong advantage no matter where we go,” Yip said, noting the platform and philosophy will resonate well there.
According to a report in Cowen Equity Research, the sneaker resale market is estimated to reach $30B by 2030. Kicks Crew is vying for its fair share among other sneaker and sneaker resale marketplaces like StockX GOAT and eBay. While they don’t offer products sold by other consumers or secondhand, they resale retailers’ overstock and excess inventory. This has helped them amass over 400,000 styles, including popular brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Converse in various styles.
Just don’t call them sneakerheads. They’ve set their sight beyond just hot spots for that culture. “We have always focused on providing a wide range of footwear and apparel offerings and expanding our verticals to include accessories, toys, and more. We have always advocated for something simpler, something before the culture of hype; collaborations, exclusive drops and the like,” said Yip adding, “It means so much more to us to offer a platform where everyone can find their perfect pair of sneakers, than promoting something for someone to buy because it’s cool.
Kicks Crew boasts being the only sneaker marketplace exclusively working directly with retailers of the brands it carries and insists its B2B2C marketplace model guarantees product authenticity for consumers.
“Most sneaker e-commerce platforms focus on sales of niche items like limited-edition collaborations, drops, and high-end collectibles, but neglected to address the growing demand and large addressable market in the general athletic and athleisure footwear and apparel segment. We’ve created a platform with a wide offering of different products to ensure no customers are alienated based on price point, function, trend or gender. Any shoe you’re looking for, you’ll find here,” Yip maintained.
He noted the strength of engaging with its community and said Kicks Crew will be among the first of its peers to host live stream events for customers. Of those customers, the brand proudly notes 40 percent of its customers are female. “We also see a 27% higher conversion from this customer segment.”
The funding will come at a time when growth is healthy and steady. “Our Gross Merchandise Value grew 15x in FY2021 over FY2020, and site traffic has grown more than five times since January 2021 driven by growth from key markets,” said Yip noting the US showed 19 times growth, Australia 14 times and Canada 20 times. To build upon this trajectory, Kicks Crew will establish brand partnerships and raise brand awareness.