You would think that someone launching an online shoe company would own shoes.
Sean Clark had no inventory at all when he founded Shoeme.ca in January 2012 in the basement of his parents’ Dunbar-area home. If someone bought a pair of shoes on his website, he would go to a retail store, buy the shoes and then package them up to send to his customer.
It was not the best business model.
“I wanted to test whether there was demand for selling shoes online,” he explained.
Clark used Shopify to build an online store for a monthly fee of $68, and, in a situation that exemplifies the adage “build it and they will come,” he reached a $1 million annual run rate for sales by the end of his first year. The next year that jumped to $5 million.
In building the company, Clark drew on his experience heading what was then known as Coastal Contacts’ Australian operations in 2010 and 2011. He increased that company’s sales Down Under to $25 million from $3 million in little more than a year.
He returned to Vancouver in late 2011 and was convinced that he wanted to found a business of his own, so he launched Shoeme.ca.
He sold that company to what is now Shoes.com in mid-2014 for an undisclosed amount and stayed with the company to oversee business development.
His move to Seattle during the first half of 2015 was to help improve communication between the hundreds of staff that Shoes.com bases in Seattle and those who work in its Vancouver head office.
“I’m ultimately responsible for Shoes.com’s new business development,” he said. “We’re trying to create and leverage technology and use new technology to reduce our returns and enhance on the website information about how shoes fit.”
Clark’s start in the e-commerce sector was during an internship as part of his MBA at the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business. He was a member of the Jericho Tennis Club along with Coastal Contacts’ then-CEO, Roger Hardy. Clark challenged Hardy to a squash match with the condition being that, if he beat Hardy, Hardy would grant him an internship. Clark lost, but Hardy offered the internship anyway.
Outside work, Clark is active in philanthropic endeavours and spends time with his wife, Amanda, and their four-month-old daughter, Grace.
Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40.