The world’s first “stock market of things”, a consumer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers using the exact same methods as the Stock Exchange. Following the basic model of scarcity, supply and demand, StockX is centred around the sale of hard-to-find limited-edition goods, be that Retro Jordans, Yeezys or Fendi – now 100% authentic. The celebrity endorsement list huge, StockX HQ recently scored visits from Ice Cube and Kanye West, to name a few!
As one of the fastest-growing start-ups, we chat to the brain force behind StockX, the streetwear mogul: Josh Luber. Chatting all things the idea behind the platform, the most important and influential sneaker, and his advice to any aspiring entrepreneur…
First things first, where did the passion for sneakers come from?
I have a very typical story for my age and background, I’m 40 years old and grew up playing basketball when Michael Jordan played. I always wanted a pair of the Air Jordan sneakers, but my mum would never buy me a pair. Sneaker fans of my age all have the exact same story.
For me, my passion really dates all the way back to that. I still own sneakers that I wore when I was 14/15 years old – they look like they are 20-years-old and they’re pretty beat up, but that’s where my passion came from!
Talking of the Air Jordan… what would you say is your favourite sneaker?
There are three models that are cool – the Air Jordan 1, which is a classic shoe, the Air Max 90, and the third is the Air Tech Challenge 2, which is the Andre Agassi shoe, that was the one!
StockX amassed a large following from sneakerheads, but also non-streetwear collectors – did you ever imagine the platform to grow this quickly?
I mean no, not the rate of the growth that we got. The hypothesis, that we could create a marketplace based on how the Stock Market works, always made sense, which is the interesting thing! The stock market has been the most efficient form of commerce for hundreds of years, all we did was take this idea to trading shoes, handbags and streetwear – that part of it was so logical. The rate of growth has been most surprising! I don’t want to say we knew it was going to work, but when you look at it in retrospect, it makes sense!
And is there anything you’d specifically attribute this rate of growth to?
It really is all about the Stock Market model, while there are lots of different places that sell sneakers and authenticate them, its the model that is key. We still had to go out and execute the idea and build the business, but we are fortunate to sell products that are highly desirable and come into the market where there wasn’t any real legitimate commerce like ours.
StockX has grown extremely fast in just 2 and a half years, what would say have been the most difficult aspects across the journey so far?
People. Our number one bottom line is just people, we have around 530-540 full-time staff, and I could easily hire another 1000 more tomorrow if we could find the right people at every level, from people who unload trucks and authenticators to people on a more senior, executive level. You can only hire people so quickly, and particularly if you’re obsessed with keeping the right culture. We’d still rather have no person than the wrong person. We just want to keep finding great people in order for us to grow.
What piece of advice would you give to someone hoping to create an e-commerce like yours?
My advice, while it might sound super generic, is two things: firstly, just do something! There’s always something you can be doing to progress your idea further, even if it seems very minute. Secondly, talk to everybody, lots of people are too concerned to talk to people because they’re worried their idea will be stolen, but that’s not the case! Talk to everyone about everything, the more people you talk to, the bigger the idea grows.
At the StockX party in London, Steve Bryden’s exhibition of the history of sneaker culture was quite remarkable, which sneaker do you think has been the most important and influential?
Steve’s display was amazing – there was way too much on display that I wanted! In terms of the most influential/important sneaker, it would have to be the Air Jordan 3 Black Cement. In my opinion, it is the most important shoe in the history of sneakers, it was the shoe that started everything: sneaker culture and the resale marketplace. It was the first shoe that Tinker Hatfield signed, and he went on to sign everything else.
I’m interested in the authentication process that goes on behind closed doors at StockX…
When we started the business and decided we wanted to authenticate every product we sold, we couldn’t just go to LinkedIn and find sneaker authenticators, that job just didn’t exist! So, we had to create it. We acquired fake shoes and real shoes, we tore them apart and documented everything. Fundamentally it’s a learnt skill, we have a training programme and even once the authenticator is up and running there’s a mentorship and hierarchy process, more senior authenticators will look at more rare products. It’s a continuing education process, there are always new shoes coming out and shoes to learn about.
Can you yourself differentiate from a fake and real?
Not some of the really good ones, no! Fortunately for the business that’s not my day to day job. Some of the fakes are so good, that if you’re not trained in it then there’s no way would you be able to spot a fake.
Where do you see StockX heading over the next 5 years or so?
The business is growing in two ways – one way is just adding different product categories, one of the ones that might come next is street art. And the second way is working directly with brands, like Nike and adidas, to release products with them, to become a primary retail channel. Continuing to work with brands, whether it’s 5 years, 5 months or 10 years, is the big idea!
Talking about brands, if you had to choose one brand to wear for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Ah man, that’s a tough one! But, I’m a Nike guy, through and through.
If you could give one piece of advice to your 15-year-old self what would it be?
That’s a good one! I’ve never had that question before… But, two words. Inter Net.