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Calgary’s Next Economy: NXTDROP wants your vintage athletic sneakers

Remember when you bought that pair of Air Jordans back in the 1990s, thinking that maybe they’d be worth something someday?

It appears they might be – and two brothers are hoping to capitalize on a $2 billion sneaker resale market that expected to grow to $6 billion by 2025.

Youssoupha and Momar Cisse, co-founders of online resale sneaker marketplace, NXTDROP, emigrated to the United States from Senegal, and attended university in Pennsylvania.

While in university, the pair first travelled to a Toronto startup fundraising program with an idea: An electronic notebook for students.

“The mentors were not sold about the first idea,” said Youssoupha.

“We were about to get kicked out of the program.”

He said he and Momar brainstormed more ideas as the clock was ticking on delivering an idea that would help them qualify for funding.

“We were looking and brainstorming about things we love and we came up with the sneaker marketplace,” said Youssoupha.

They thought about an online platform where people could watch sports – they’re both passionate athletes. But that was a crowded marketplace.

They wanted to put something in the Canadian marketplace that had room to grow. So, shoes it was.

Online resale sneaker marketplace

While the most lucrative market lies in athletic shoes, Momar said that there’s a robust resale market for luxury brands like Balenciaga.

“Sometimes they drop limited edition sneakers that you can get. We have people like that, that like have them and want to sell them for profit,” he said.

The idea is straightforward. If you have a pair of vintage sneakers you list them by providing details – but you don’t have to post a picture. This is a very select market of people who know what they’re listing and what they’re buying.

Once someone offers to buy the shoes, they click a button on the site and a label is sent to the seller. The shoes are shipped to NXTDROP for authentication. Yes, knockoffs are a problem.

They have enough experience with the shoes to tell real from fake.

“Between a fake pair and a real pair, you can see some discrepancies,” said Momar.

“Sometimes you’ll see the stitching is done really bad. You can compare the colors, the boxes, sometimes the box is different.”

They also check the labels and other authenticating marks.

NXTDROP – Big money in old shoes

When Kobe Bryant died, a value on a pair of Kobe basketball sneakers jumped from $300 to $900.

It sort of works like the stock market. There are catalysts that drive prices higher or lower.

One of the memories that sparked the idea was when Momar tried to snag a pair of limited edition Nike shoes that were done in collaboration with Kanye West.

“I was trying to get the pair, but I couldn’t get it. So, it was kinda painful,” he said.

When he went on E-bay, that pair was selling for between $5,000 and $6,000.

Now, those same shoes resell for around $15,000.

Next stop for NXTDROP – Canadian market leaders

Youssoupha and Momar wanted to build their business in Canada because it holds so much opportunity – there’s only one other player. Their goal is to take over the Canadian market.

Then the US. Then, the world.

They’re working in the Junction program with Platform Calgary to build out their business properly, so they can continue the growth they envision.

They want to understand more about e-commerce, messaging, bringing people to their site and then converting them into sales.

From there, the Cisse brothers realize that the sky’s the limit when it comes to resale apparel.

Watches, streetwear handbags – there’s a buy and sell marketplace for all this vintage gear.

“I’ll say that we want to be the platform where everything you want to resell in Canada, you’ll do that from NXTDROP,” said Youssoupha.

“Everything that touches fashion.”