Sneakers, a plan and a pitch

Sneakers.
Everyone has a favorite pair, a favorite style and a favorite brand. If you’re serious about
your sneaker game, you know when the next new line will launch. You HAVE to get a pair.  
J Williams 1Once you decide, “I’m getting those shoes,” you plan your strategies.Where will I buy my shoes? Should I go to the mall? Which store will have the most pairs in stock? Am I willing to wait in line? Should I just buy them online? What happens if I can’t get the shoes? Do I have any options? Can I make a trade? The Plan Meet Julian Williams, a junior at Grand Center Arts Academy, a Confluence charter school. He is serious about sneakers. So much so, he has a business idea to become a middle man on the sneaker trade market. Yes, there is such a thing as trading sneakers. In March 2016, Forbes.com published an article, ‘Sneaker Culture Fuels $1 Billion Secondary Market.’ There is a sneaker stock market, Stockx.com, that lists the value of a range of sneakers. In short, athletic shoes are big business, even on the resale market. On April 24, 2016, Williams was one of 10 finalists in the Saint Louis University Teen Pitch Deck Competition, “Angels in the Outfield.” He had five minutes to pitch his idea to a panel of judges at Gateway Grizzlies Stadium. His presentation was broadcast on a jumbotron while he explained his business proposal – MyKickTrade.com, a service that allows people to trade shoes safely through an exchange point while he earns a small fee for assisting in the transaction. Williams is a theatre student. He’s been enrolled at GCAA since it first opened in 2010-2011. He’s also on a path to becoming a youth entrepreneur. He’s participated in the Allsup Summer Academy, coordinated by the John Cook School of Business at SLU. He watches ‘Shark Tank’ for new ideas, and within the last year, he has competed in several events for entrepreneurship. “I think, ‘How can I connect an idea with something I like?’” said Williams. The spark that ignited his sneaker trade service came after he tried to buy shoes from someone through Instagram. Williams wanted to use PayPal to buy the shoes, but the seller wanted to meet him at a mall. Something didn’t seem right, making Williams uncomfortable. He didn’t go through with it. What is it about sneakers that grabs his attention? “I like the variety.” He does his research to choose the shoes ahead of time. He buys online because it’s less of a risk than waiting to go to a store because the shoes could be sold out. For the love of sneakers Williams’ first major purchase of shoes was in eighth grade. He was on vacation with his mom, knowing the Air Jordan 11 Retro Low Concords would hit the stores over the weekend. He scored a raffle ticket at a store mall for a chance to buy the shoes, but he misunderstood the process and lost his chance. Then, “I spent all day calling stores to find the shoes,” he recalls. “I found a store that was going to put out another stock of shoes at six o’clock that night. I waited in line for two hours.” While waiting, he discovered that his debit card was missing. He called the bank. The card had been used. There was only $10 left. His mom gave him the money for the shoes - $150. He got the last pair in his size. He still has the shoes. “I keep them in the box. But I wore them the other day,” he said. In the weeks leading up to the “Angels in the Outfield” competition, Williams worked closely with Andrew Goodin, Makerspace teacher at GCAA, to perfect the presentation and to rehearse. “I feel good about making it to the final 10,” said Williams. “If I win, I have a plan for costs. I’ll review the plan for the budget and keep doing research.” The prize awards are $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. “The competition turned out great! He really practiced a lot over the weekend. His presentation was so polished that he didn’t even need to look at the slides,” said Goodin. However, Williams did not place in the top three.
Although Williams did not place in the event, he still has a business idea, a plan and an affinity for sneakers.