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New!Team announcement

Meet SoleSavy's Co-Founder & Chief Community Officer: Justin Dusanj

Meet SoleSavy's Co-Founder & Chief Community Officer: Justin Dusanj

Work meets passion for one of the co-founders of SoleSavy, a company empowering sneaker culture and looking to bring it back to its roots. Justin Dusanj started the company with Dejan Pralica after connecting online six years ago, and the pair are looking to grow the company to become “the Nike of sneaker membership.” “I've been into sneakers my entire life, so it's never really felt like work,” Justin says. “I fall asleep looking at shoes - it's an obsession. I do other things, but my mind will always be like, ‘What's going on in the shoe world? What am I missing?’ I get FOMO. I think it's what everyone strives for is to turn your passion into your profession. I've been fortunate to do that.” The SoleSavy mission is to make sneakers accessible and affordable. For Justin, it’s about returning the sneaker industry to what it was like for him growing up. “It’s becoming next to impossible to buy a pair of shoes that are coveted. There's a major shift in this industry going towards reselling and making money off the industry that we love. Whereas I grew up wearing shoes until they could no longer be worn anymore and never even thinking about the cost of them or how much money they could make if I sold them.” As a child, Justin’s dad ran a sports store, and he considers himself lucky to have had an early introduction to sneakers and sports apparel. He grew to make sure his look was always on point and matching, and always looking his best. “My dad always made sure I had the best sneakers on. It was his way of marketing; putting sneakers on his kid and hoping other kids saw it. So I was a walking mannequin for major brands my entire life” His dad’s store grew to have more than 100 franchises across North America. While Justin was able to benefit from such close access to the sneakers he loved, one of the enduring memories and lessons he learned came when his Dad lost his business. “For me to see how he persevered after that was super inspiring. It really does motivate me every day, because he literally just put his head down and went back to work and built something entirely new out of something that was totally destroyed. That's something that I'll carry with me every day when we're building SoleSavy.” Justin is SoleSavy’s Chief Community Officer and believes sneakers have an incredible ability to unite people across cultures and demographics, including on issues such as gender and racial discrimination. They’re seeing encouraging growth in women’s sneakers, and are bringing people together through their shared love of sneakers. “It's so collective and so powerful with the fundraising we've done for charity initiatives, everyone's willing to help out. People want to speak out, they want to speak their mind and tell each other how they feel. The people, the members, they just rally around that. And it's so powerful.” The power of the movement SoleSavy is creating comes back to the passion of its members, as well as its staff. For Justin, he’s living a dream he couldn’t even have imagined. “I can't even carry a conversation about anything besides sneakers, because it drains me. But I could talk about sneakers all day long. That is my true passion. It's in my DNA.” SoleSavy is hiring, come join the team!

Team announcement

SoleSavy Hires Anna Bediones to Lead Strategy for its Exclusive Women’s Community

SoleSavy Hires Anna Bediones to Lead Strategy for its Exclusive Women’s Community

SoleSavy, one of the fastest-growing sneaker startups, announced today that Anna Bediones joined its team as Director of Strategy, Women’s. In this role, Anna will lead SoleSavy’s latest venture to create a safe and inclusive community for women sneakerheads. Next month, the company will launch its first exclusive women’s community. Anna is a leader within the sneaker industry, both as a voice and creative. Her experience includes writing for some of the industry’s top sneaker publications, hosting video and podcast series, styling campaigns for companies like Jordan Brand and Nike, serving as a go-to brand ambassador for beauty, fashion, and sneaker brands, and more. “Anna is one of the most respected voices in the sneaker and style communities,” says CEO Dejan Pralica. “She’s worked on creative projects with every major brand, retailer, marketplace, and publication in the industry. Her unique experience as both a lifelong sneakerhead and creative in the space makes her the ideal leader to help us build the best sneaker community for women, and beyond.” About SoleSavy: Founded in 2018, it received $2M in funding from investors such as Bedrock Capital, Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH fund, and Panache Ventures. Recently, its executive team added veterans from Nike’s Jordan Brand and the Los Angeles Lakers. From building one of the largest paid sneaker communities online, SoleSavy looks to take their momentum into building a new all-in-one experience that includes community, content, and a marketplace.

Team announcement

SoleSavy Hires Former Los Angeles Lakers Head of Marketing as Senior Vice President of Marketing

SoleSavy Hires Former Los Angeles Lakers Head of Marketing as Senior Vice President of Marketing

SoleSavy, one of the fastest-growing startups in the sneaker industry, announced today that Mitchell Holder joined its team as Senior Vice President of Marketing. In this role, Mitchell will be responsible for SoleSavy’s marketing and brand efforts as they look to empower sneakerheads and redefine their consumer experience. Mitchell joins the company’s leadership team and will report to CEO and Co-Founder Dejan Pralica. Mitchell is a respected creative leader, having most recently led the Los Angeles Lakers marketing department during its ‘19-’20 NBA Championship run. Prior to the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitchell led Ogilvy’s Digital and Social business on the West Coast and has held positions at Kobalt Music, VaynerMedia, and Sony Music. “Mitchell has established himself as one of the top marketing leaders in multiple verticals that overlap with the growing sneaker industry,” said Dejan Pralica, CEO. “His vision for building world-recognized brands and driving marketing innovation makes him the perfect leader for SoleSavy.” “SoleSavy is changing the game for those who really love sneakers,” said Mitchell. “I’m thrilled to be joining a team that has built such a passionate community and is now creating innovative ways to help empower those members with new products and services. In such a turbulent and shifting industry, SoleSavy is going to be a force for positive change in sneaker culture.” About SoleSavy: Founded in 2018, it received $2M in funding from investors such as Bedrock Capital, Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH fund, and Panache Ventures. Last month, its executive team added Marco Henry Negrete, former Global Editorial Content lead at Nike’s Jordan Brand. From building one of the largest paid sneaker communities online, SoleSavy looks to take their momentum into building a new all-in-one experience that includes community, content, and a marketplace.

Team announcement

SoleSavy Hires Former Jordan Brand Global Editorial Lead as a Vice President

SoleSavy Hires Former Jordan Brand Global Editorial Lead as a Vice President

Sneaker startup SoleSavy continues to grow. The community-led organization is driven by bringing back authenticity to the sneaker game by providing tips and tricks on how to cop sneakers for retail. But the company is more than just a tool — it’s a conglomerate of genuine sneaker lovers. The company recently received $2 million in funding and its ceiling continues to rise. SoleSavy has added yet another key figure to its roster as Marco Henry Negrete, former Jordan Brand Global Editorial Lead, is stepping in as the company’s Vice President of Content and Communications. Negrete will lead SoleSavy’s content strategy, consumer and corporate communications and creative marketing efforts.

Funding announcement

Sneaker enthusiast group SoleSavy raises $2M, setting the stage for a community-driven commerce boom

Sneaker enthusiast group SoleSavy raises $2M, setting the stage for a community-driven commerce boom

SoleSavy, a community built around buying hot sneakers and related items that are increasingly hard to acquire at retail, raised $2 million in a round that closed late last year. SoleSavy is a group of communities that is currently mostly hosted on Slack. SoleSavy’s co-founders Dejan Pralica and Justin Dusanj founded the company in 2018 as a paid community for collectors and enthusiasts seeking pairs that were getting snapped up by bots or resellers. Pralica previously co-founded Kicks Deals, a sneaker shipping site focused on less than retail pricing and Dusanj is the former director of Operations at New Age Sports, a Nike retailer. SoleSavy’s $2 million party raise includes investment from Panache Ventures, Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH, Turner Novak, Ben Narasin, Morning Brew’s Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief, Tiny Capital, Wesley Pentz (yes, Diplo), Matthew Hauri aka Yung Gravy, Ryan Holmes, Roham Gharegozlou and Bedrock Capital. SoleSavy has built an engaged community (several communities, really) around the ebb and flow of the sneakerhead consumer universe (SCU). I just coined that, by the way, please make it a thing. The SCU is an interesting place filled with fascinating characters and behaviors. Every once in a while it pokes its head into the mainstream, whether via a documentary, a hot shoe release or a strong-arm robbery attempt. In 2021, I believe that we will see more of this world breaking out of its box into the larger consumer consciousness. The trends that are leading us to this place are varied, but some of them have been front and center during the pandemic, as a decade’s worth of consumer behavioral change has occurred in the space of a few months. You only have to look at how hard it was to get a PS5 or Xbox One X or a GPU for the holiday season, and how many services, Twitter accounts and monitor groups rose up to try to help people do that to see what the future of shopping looks like. I joked about not being able to buy butter without a bot, but it’s not far from the truth — nearly every category of goods has had its own shortages over the last year. But the mother of all limited goods category for decades now has been sneakers. Every release is hotly anticipated and eagerly purchased by people looking for the latest shoe. The massive increase in interest in the sneaker as the marquee desirable item and the unwillingness of the biggest manufacturers to lose the hype halo has led to each drop being harder to get than the last. Second-market startups like StockX and GOAT have sprung up to facilitate those who don’t mind paying 30%-200% premiums on each release. The solution for many lies in the countless “cook groups” that help buyers anticipate demand and stock for each drop and plan to purchase them on release date. SoleSavy’s function is ostensibly to do just that: help regular enthusiasts to strategize and execute the release-day cop. But beyond that, Pralica says that the group has come to be about the community of people around those shoes more than the purchase itself. SoleSavy is at its heart a Slack group (a series of groups actually that act as cohorts, leading people through the tiers of community that the team has built) with rooms that help people to understand what’s happening in sneakers, get the releases and commiserate around the culture. Pralica says that they’ve built that community out slowly (the waitlist for the group grows by 400 people per day) in order to maintain a positive atmosphere and to properly onboard new people to the group. They also have an app that drives push notifications and a podcast. That positive community vibe is what Pralica says is SoleSavy’s long-term focus and differentiating factor that keeps the 4,000 members across the U.S. and Canada interacting with the group on a nearly daily basis. I’ve been in a dozen or so different groups focused on buying large quantities of each release to re-sell over the years and many of them are, at best, rowdy and at worst toxic. That’s an environment that SoleSavy wanted to stay away from, says Pralica. Instead, SoleSavy tries to court those who want to buy and wear the shoes, trade them and yes, maybe even resell personal pairs eventually to obtain and wear another grail. Though cook groups have been the “core” of the Discord and Slack-based communities in the sneaker world, other iterations have been booming too. Entrepreneurial communities based in the same hustle principles like Tyler Blake’s In This Economy and fanbase-focused groups around popular streamers top the Disboard. And bets on social token outfits like Zora are also focused on community as the glue that holds together a user base. Community is the future of all commerce, whether you’re looking for a specific product (see the huge PS5 monitors) or want to steep yourself in a particular universe of product interest (the SCU). The trends that I’ve been seeing all point to 2021 being the year that community-driven purchasing breaks out of the underbelly of fandom and becomes officially “a thing.” SoleSavy has been experimenting with a variety of ways to keep the community knit going, including live chats, get-togethers, and even a handsome custom community-designed Jordan 1. These efforts have driven the previously bootstrapped company to some impressive early numbers. Pralica says that SoleSavy is currently profitable, with $1.5 million ARR on $33 monthly subscriptions plus affiliate revenue and that their DAUs are at 90% — an engagement number that would make any retailer salivate. Though the funding closed (very) late last year I thought that this would be a great kick-off story for the year ahead. Though SoleSavy seems to have a really compelling story and a great growth curve, I think they’re at the tip of a very large trend, one that we will see continue to build throughout the year.

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