StockX looks to bring stock market-like visibility to sneaker reselling.
By Thomas J. Ryan
Start-up StockX is looking to bring the efficiencies of Wall Street trading to the reselling of collectible sneakers and eventually to many other high-end, limited edition items.
The Detroit-based company is the brainchild of Josh Luber, the founder of Campless.com, a site offering stats on sneaker sales; and Dan
Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, managing partner of Detroit Venture Partners, and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In an interview with SGB, Luber said the online secondary sneaker market has been around for more than 15 years and has grown exponentially during that time to become a multi-billion dollar market. Luber estimates the secondary sneaker market in the U.S. at $1.2 billion and close to $6 billion globally.
EBay controls about a third of the market while the popular Flight Club is projected to be a distant second with sales estimated at less than five percent. The rest are made up of other smaller consignment websites and stores such as Kixify, Grail and Stadium Goods as well as individual re-seller websites, often supported by Craigslist, Facebook and Instagram.
Yet many of the traditional e-commerce and auction websites in the re-selling space are using outdated e-commerce platforms designed in the late 90’s, Luber said.
By comparison, StockX is a live marketplace where participants anonymously buy and sell certain limited edition consumer products, such as sneakers, with stock market-like visibility. Said Luber, “The stock market’s been around for 100 years and it’s proven to be pretty efficient.”
Luber told SGB he had been tinkering with creating a stock market for sneakers since founding Campless.com in 2012 while working as an IBM consultant. Operating similar to the ‘Kelly Blue Book’ for the sneaker market, Campless.com tracks the reselling of sneakers using data compiled by eBay’s public API to come up with sneaker “values.”
Luber said Gilbert had similarly been looking to create an online marketplace based around stock trading fundamentals. Inspired by his “sneakerhead” son, Gilbert decided to first focus on sneakers and that led him to Campless.com and Luber, who also drew attention to himself with a series of TED Talks on sneaker analytics. Last September, Campless.com received a significant investment from Detroit Venture Partners, with Campless.com now morphing into StockX.
A foremost advantage of StockX, according to Luber, is transparency. Participants in the StockX exchange can find historical price and volume metrics, real-time bids and offers (asks), time-stamped trades and additional analytics on every sneaker model presented on the marketplace. Luber said with prices potentially ranging from $100 to $8,000 depending on the rarity of the item, the site helps set a “fair price” for both sellers and buyers. Just like equity stocks, prices move higher or lower based on trading prices.
Said Luber, “With traditional e-commerce sites, you see their narrow view of the world. You have no idea where the rest of the market is selling at.”
The other major plus is trust. Trades are done anonymously and are all authenticated with StockX sitting as a middleman between the seller and the buyer.
On eBay, a buyer would have to deal with a seller if a sale goes bad, but StockX handles any issues with either seller or buyer. When an item is sold, the seller ships the item to StockX’s Detroit facilities where it is authenticated and then shipped to the buyer.
StockX’s platform eliminates any hidden fees, such as a seller adding on a huge fee for shipping, and also assures delivery time. Luber said it’s not uncommon in traditional reselling for a buyer to find out after the sale that they’ll have to wait two weeks for the item since it is being shipped from Japan. But StockX focuses on authentication.
StockX will not settle trades until it has verified that the sneakers are 100 percent authentic. Moreover, StockX has partnered with Fake_Education, a popular Instagram account, that has become the premier website for sneaker authentication, to vet the authenticity of shoes.
“Fakes are a huge issue in the secondary market so we are standing in the middle of every deal to authenticate it and make sure it’s real,” said Luber. “That’s never been done in the sneaker world before.”
Beyond the trading tools such as being able to set bids or asks as well as two-click trading, the StockX platform will also allow users to create their own personalized ‘sneaker portfolio’ by uploading their entire current collection. StockX will then price the individual portfolio in real time so a user can evaluate gains and losses, as well as compare and contrast their sneaker collection to other users on the platform. This feature puts the sneaker trader on par with the same kind of metrics that have only been traditionally available for stock and financial portfolio analysis.
In addition to its robust real-time trading platform, StockX will provide in-depth market analysis and the latest domestic and global sneaker news.
At launch, StockX had more than 15,000 pairs of limited release sneakers representing 3,500 models. Luber said he’s only heard positives from the sneaker community on StockX’s launch.
“The feedback has been unbelievable,” said Luber. “People are always happy to have more transparency than less.”
Luber’s main goal in the near term is to prove the model works for sneaker reselling. StockX is also working on expanding its sneaker re-selling platform internationally and then will explore the sale of other consumer goods with strong secondary markets.
Luber lists women’s handbags, watches, comic books, baseball cards, coins, and streetwear such as the Supreme label as other items with trading dynamics that should also work on the StockX platform. Said Luber, “As long as it’s not a pure commodity item like toilet paper or a singular item like a work of art or a house, this framework for using a stock market concept should work for just about every product. It’s really a big idea about creating a new form of e-commerce.”
Luber, who has moved from Philadelphia to Detroit as part of the launch, will lead the online consumer trading exchange as its CEO. He said Gilbert has been and will remain actively involved in StockX.
“StockX’s live marketplace will harness the Internet’s natural ability to facilitate a better way to transact certain segments of ecommerce,” said Gilbert in a statement. “We are going to bring the kind of trading platform and visibility to tangible products that financial and commodities markets have used for decades. The efficiency, credibility and liquidity of the financial markets have been foundational to the largest economy in the world.”
Joining Gilbert, Luber and Detroit Venture
Partners in the early-stage investment is high-tech venture capital firm SV Angel and its Founder and Co-managing partner, Ron Conway, Ludlow Ventures and Courtside Ventures. The company is expected to announce an expanded investor group consisting of several high-profile entertainers, athletes and prominent figures in the sneaker world over the next few months.