Some people collect watches, others like to collect bottles of wine.
“I collect sneakers,” says Adarsh Pallian, chuckling.
“There's something interesting with every sneaker out there. And Nike [Inc.] and Adidas [AG] have done a fantastic job in the last decade or so just kind of building the hype around sneakers by collaborating with all these famous designers.”
Pallian, the chief operating officer of SoleSavy Inc., now gets to witness his own passion for sneakers scale up after his company revealed Monday the close of a Series A funding round to the tune of $12.5 million.
The Vancouver-based startup is best known for building a paywalled community platform allowing people to engage over Slack to get tips on nabbing in-demand sneakers at retail prices rather than allowing resellers to dominate the market.
The round was led by Bedrock Capital with participation from Launch Partnership LLC, Origin Ventures, Panache Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and Banana Capital.
Big names from the Canadian tech scene also joined in, with investments coming from Dapper Labs Inc. CEO Roham Gharegozlou, Hootsuite Inc. chairman and founder Ryan Holmes, and Shopify Inc. (TSX:SHOP) president Harley Finkelstein. American DJ Diplo (Thomas Wesley Pentz) is also an investor.
The $12.5-million raise comes just six months after SoleSavy closed a seed round worth US$2 million.
Pallian, an entrepreneur who sold his own tech company to Hootsuite in 2011, was drawn into the orbit of SoleSavy back in 2018 as he sought out a community of fellow fans of fashionable footwear.
The self-described “sneakerhead” liked the community enough as a member — one of the first 50 members, in fact — that he eventually invested in SoleSavy and later found himself joining founders Dejan Pralica and Justin Dusanj to serve as chief operating officer in 2019.
“What SoleSavy has done is really kind of build a really straightforward, clean, trusted community by putting a paywall to it. And so they can see the quality of applicants and really bring together sneakerheads, and not the resellers, and the flippers and the negative people from social [media],” Pallian said.
Most revenue comes from the company’s paywall, which charges its 9,000 members US$33 a month for access to the community.
With the venture capital in hand, SoleSavy is gearing up to expand its membership as well as offerings with the launch of a sneaker marketplace set for later this year.
“Everybody who comes to the community has 20, 30, 40 pairs of sneakers sitting in a closet. What we are building is a beautiful app that showcases your portfolio,” said Paillian.
“Some of these sneakers may be for sale, some may not be for sale. But the idea is for everyone to showcase it, and for the community to be able to buy, sell and trade between each other.”
SoleSavy’s plan is to eventually expand beyond sneakers and build other communities as well.
Since the US$2-million seed round, the company’s headcount has expanded from nine people to 37 people.
“Obviously we’d be love for Canadians to come join, but because this is kind of one of those unique communities where true passionate sneakerheads live everywhere, if you happen to be in New York or Oregon or San Diego, we will hire you,” said Pallian.