Around this time two years ago, David Alston was running down the freezing streets of Chicago to sneaker launch pop-up parties during NBA All-Star Game weekend, trying to make know about its upstart app, Kickstroid.
His pre-pandemic goal: To let sneakerheads know how and where to get the latest reissues of various Air Jordans, the latest Nikes inspired by LeBron James’ “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and a revived Adidas D Rose 1 from the legend of the Chicago hoop. Derrick Rose.
The positive feedback Alston received from users in person and on the app inspired him and his Kickstroid co-founder and classmate, Nicco Adams. This weekend on their app, which launched in January 2020, they’re following to see how the Nike “LeBron 9 Big Bang 2022” reissue will pan out as this year’s NBA All-Star Game takes place in Cleveland, James’ former stomping ground. They say the shoe, with a retail price of $210, has a current “hype rating” of 7.2 (out of 10), a resale value of 4.6, which they also currently estimate. at $284 and could cost more.
“It’s even if you can find a pair. (James) probably won’t even need to wear them to promote them during the game,” Alston said Friday of the shoes. “Resale price will be incredibly volatile over the next few days as FOMO and the urge to overpay begin to kick in – until the next big shoe release drops.”
About a year after receiving “life-changing” advice from Apple app developers and mentorship from longtime sneaker brand executives, Alston, 23, and Adams, 24, say they are determined to make it big with Kickstroid. Promoted as “the smartest sneaker app ever”, Kickstroid uses machine learning and user input to predict what will be the next most dope, rare and expensive kicks, where find them – and more importantly, how much will they cost?
They want to carve out a place in a competitive market that includes well-known apps such as StockX, GOAT, SNKRS from Nike, Amazon and eBay, as well as favorites Sneaker Links, Sole Link and Sneakers N Stuff (aka SNS), for n to name a few. . Overall, the sneaker industry could be worth up to $85 billion worldwide in 2022, according to data researcher Statista.
And the resale market is just as important. Research firm Piper Sandler’s focus on StockX last year estimated the resale market for sneakers is worth $10 billion in North America, and analysis by Cowen Equity Research last year estimated that the resale market could reach up to $30 billion worldwide by 2030.
Although Kickstroid may not yet have as many downloads compared to its larger counterparts, it may be off to a good start based on early user reviews. The app has a 4.4 out of 5 star rating on the Apple App Store. But Kickstroid has a very long way to go compared to GOAT, which is ranked 15th in the top 1,000 apps in the App Store’s “Shopping” category, according to Data.ai, the app tracker formerly known as App Annie’s name. .
In that same category of shopping apps, StockX was ranked at 16, Nike SNKRS at 18 and Foot Locker at 32, reports Data.ai.
Great support from Apple, industry veterans
Although not yet in the top 1,000 shopping apps, Kickstroid has major support from Apple. Last year, the tech giant selected Alston and Adams to attend its first Entrepreneur Camp for black founders and developers. They were among 13 black-owned business founders selected for the 10-day camp, part of Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice (REJI) initiative following the global fallout from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last year.
Apple designed the program and states on its website, give developers like Alston the ability to take their app experience to the next level by “mastering new technical skills, applying critical user experience focus, and more through hands-on tech labs, a level of Individually code the guidance of Apple’s experts and engineers, as well as the mentorship, inspiration, and insights of key Apple executives.”
In the case of Kickstroid, Apple said the app’s goal was “to help sneakerheads discover their favorite shoes with features they couldn’t find in other sneaker apps, and to provide a platform to create a community among sneakerheads around the world”.
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Apple helped Kickstroid by integrating its machine learning into its app. This allows for more user interaction on the app, Alston said, including sneaker battles, where users show off and vote for their favorite sneakers (imagine deciding if you like the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350s from Kanye West). or fellow rapper Travis Scott’s rendition of the Air Jordan 6).
Alston said that when each user votes on a photo of a sneaker, its AI-based sneaker detection algorithm scans that sneaker photo, breaking it down based on its visual characteristics (seam or leather or nubuck). These details can start a great debate about the best shoe and show users similar styles.
Machine learning also helps the site determine an estimated resale price for the model, which can increase or decrease based on user interest. Alston said he enjoyed sitting side-by-side with Apple developers and technologists working to improve the app’s back-end to make it even more interactive.
He said that several developers continue to stay in touch with them.
“They’re giving a lot of support, they’re checking in on the progress we’re making and seeing if there are any opportunities open to us,” Alston said. “Every time we receive a text message from an Apple developer, it’s a source of excitement for us.”
Adams added, “The developers were able to sense what we wanted our vision to be and helped us bring it all together. They continue to guide us when we need them. We are grateful to them.”
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As a result, Alston said he’s seen users return to the app multiple times a day, as the average time is typically six minutes, a gradual increase from three minutes a year ago, he said. .
It’s a solid metric to build on, said Jason Brown, chief marketing officer at NTWRK, a first mobile video shopping platform targeting Gen Z and millennials, who serves as a mentor to Alston and Adams. .
“The sneaker landscape is constantly changing and David and Nicco are witnessing it,” said Brown, former marketing manager for Champs Sports, Foot Locker and PepsiCo. “They have the ability to merge cultures and subcultures through knowledge and technology data. I’m excited to see where this is going.”
Alston said he became more drawn to sneaker culture after actor/rapper Donald Glover’s partnership with Adidas came out with sneakers with a worn aesthetic.
Alston knew his sneaker tastes were a bit different from those who like flashier styles, as he saw in various conversations on Reddit. Adams, who graduated with Alston at the University of Illinois, shared a similar interest. Now they want to bring the casual and diehard sneakerheads together.
“It all feels really organic, almost second nature,” Adams said of user interaction on the site. “We don’t just jump in, we don’t have to binge. Our users drive the flow of the conversation.”
“It’s about helping users find their passion and their fashion,” Alston said. “We want to help people of culture be able to express themselves with what they wear.”