I am a sneakerhead and have been as long as I can remember. I am also a product guy and love nothing more than building cool stuff that (I hope) people will love. For the past few months I have been working with some awesome people here in NYC to build an app for sneakerheads. As an investor, I want to stay sharp by doing and this project has been really valuable. I was able to recruit a team around an idea, work to build a shared vision and be part of executing on a product from concept to launch.
The idea came out of my love for sneakers and a desire to create more products. In 2007 I started posting cool shoes I saw on the street to twitter and created the hashtag #todayskicks. Some other sneakerheads picked it up and when I went to buy the domain 2 days later, some guy I didn’t know in NYC (turned out to be Eric Friedman) had already bought the domain name – so I settled for @todayskicks on twitter. A couple weeks ago I realized there were hundreds of posts a day. No organization, but a cool little community. It seemed like a great time to build something for this audience and I reached out to Eric to get it started.
It’s called Today’s Kicks – it pulls in every image tagged #todayskicks directly from Twitter to populate the app. Users can “love” images of cool kicks, and we built in a prominent “Retweet” button (one user who got a hold of a leaked version tweeted 29 individual photos of sneakers in less than a hour early yesterday). We are using the twitter namespace, so anyone who has sent a tweet with the #todayskicks hashtag has a page on the site with their images. When you add a photo from the app, you can also add tags that will be associated with the image/style and we hope to have pages by style at some point in the future.
Anyway, there’s more to come — pictures of sneakers are just the beginning. There is something really cool about identifying communities of passion, giving them a way to organize and accelerate communication and engagement with products they love and ultimately offer the ability to buy the “best of” based on community curation.
We are a long way from that, but I learned a ton in this effort and think every investors should find the time to build a passion product in the space where they say “no” everyday — it grounds you and reminds you how hard (and fun) it is to build. It also helps you give better advice to the companies you work with day in and day out because you are putting that advice to the test in your own efforts in real time (pivotal tracker was new to me for instance and I can’t wait to actually put money to work acquiring customers on Facebook).
I got to build Today’s Kicks with a bunch of awesome people – Amanda Peyton and Jason Gavris (who I originally met at MIT a couple years ago), Brian Kalma (former Director of UX at Zappos), Eric Friedman (Director of BD at Foursquare) and Rebecca Zhou (Techstars design genius) – it’s truly a New York City “joint effort” – and makes me love this community even more.