‘It’s our mission to bring the experience back to sneakers,” says co-founder Brandon Chance. Andreessen Horowitz has taken notice.
For most of us, sneakers are ubiquitous to the point of blending into the background of daily life. But for a small yet rapidly growing group of footwear fanatics, sneakers are a way of life.
One of those sneaker aficionados is native South Floridian Brandon Chance. “I’ve been a sneakerhead all my life,” Chance told Refresh Miami. “But recently, sneakers have become more popular and mainstream. Now they’re harder to get and more expensive than ever.”
Chance decided to approach this problem head-on by developing Loan My Sole, a digital platform for renting some of the most in-demand sneakers in the market. He noted that, according to leaked internal documents from Nike, only around 3% of consumers who want to buy a particular shoe are actually able to buy it. Those lucky few then resell the sneakers at many multiples of the MSRP, if they so choose. In many cases though, says Chance, some of the most coveted pairs of sneakers are relegated to the back of someone’s closet – never to see the light of day.
“It’s our mission to bring ‘experience’ back to sneakers,” he said. “We won’t stop until the culture that popularized the ‘culture’ isn’t roped off and priced out any longer.”
The platform is currently waitlist gaited but has a reported 3,000 users. The platform is akin to Airbnb. Sneaker owners post their kicks online, set a price, and decide when they would like to rent them out. Prices fluctuate with the demand for that particular sneaker at any given time. However, Chance acknowledged that a four-day rental period typically costs users one tenth of the sneaker’s current resale price. Extra keen users can sign up for the “plug club,” or a $5.99 monthly subscription that gives users access to extra special sneakers and perks such as free shipping.
According to Chance, Loan My Sole’s user base is predominantly aged 16 to 28. In many cases, “these are people who decided to make sneakers a full time job,” he said. “Sometimes these are individuals who are driving Uber who are doing odd jobs, but they’re using their sneakers as a form of income.” Talk about an alternative asset.
Skeptical? You’re not alone. But Chance asserts that in about a year of operating the platform, they have yet to have to deal with bad experiences. “We fully expected some individuals to take advantage,” he said. “But what we found is that these users are treating the shoes really well.”
It helps that users are vetted before passing through the waitlist. There is also a reputation system whereby the better a user treats the shoes, the better their reputation, and the better prices and access they’ll get going forward. Additionally, Loan My Sole offers owners a product protection feature where they are reimbursed if anything happens to the shoe.
There is also an environmental aspect to Loan My Sole, explained Chance. “There’s so much waste in fashion right now. There are millions and millions of shoes being destroyed, damaging our environment. Hopefully, our service will allow people to experience more shoes without more shoes being made.”
The Miami-based Shrimp Society played a major role in helping Chance, a first time tech entrepreneur, get Loan My Sole off the ground. “I’m a proud member and supporter,” Chance said of the community organization.
Chance, alongside his co-founder Bryan Bastida, were just accepted into Andreessen Horowitz’s Talent x Opportunity Initiative. The cohort-based program aims to empower founders from underrepresented groups or, as the VC puts it, “emerging cultural geniuses.”
As for our local genius, Chance is humbled by the opportunity. “It’s a dream come true. And hopefully it’s a starting point, not a finish line.”
Photo at top of post: Brandon Chance, right, and co-founder Bryan Bastida.
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