This Malaysian Bubble Tea Tycoon Created A Platform To Buy And Trade Sneakers
TeaLive founder Bryan Loo's new venture Urban WallStreet streamlines the process of buying, selling and trading of sneakers
The Ready For Launch series asks questions of entrepreneurs to get the inside story behind a new startup or product launch.
The global sneaker market is currently valued at US$84 billion, and it is expected to grow to US$128 billion by 2027. Worldwide, sneakers have gone beyond their origins as sportswear to become a status symbol or fashion statement, with people spending thousands of dollars for the rarest and most exclusive kicks.
Bryan Loo, who is behind Malaysia's wildly successful bubble tea franchise, TeaLive, recounts how his own obsession with sneakers started when he was studying in Australia. "There were a couple of good locations in Melbourne where we got to pick on the last drops—or 'releases' in sneaker terms. When I came back to Malaysia, I continued the hobby of buying all sorts of streetwear apparel and sneakers."
As a consumer himself, he saw that there was no centralised place for sneaker collectors to buy and trade their shoes. Online transactions were often unregulated and risky, with most trades taking place on informal channels such as message boards, WhatsApp or Facebook groups. This led him to start Urban WallStreet with national badminton player and fellow Gen.T honouree Lee Zii Jia, to enable people to trade their genuine sneakers safely and securely.
Loo shares more about his latest venture here.
Please introduce Urban WallStreet.
Urban WallStreet is a sneaker and streetwear marketplace app that provides users access to a wide catalogue of streetwear, sneakers and collectables.
Who is your target customer?
We are not targeting the mass market. Our customers are individuals between their early 20s to late 30s, who are into fashion and streetwear. I would say the audience is split between those who are young and aspiring to grow their collection and people who are fashion-forward and want to stay updated with the latest trends.
How did the idea for Urban WallStreet come about?
I had the idea to start Urban WallStreet two years ago when I observed an issue plaguing the local sneaker community in Malaysia. I would think twice before buying a pair of sneakers online, as there was no way to authenticate that the product was genuine. This problem extended beyond sneakers and affected all streetwear products. Even if you were to use a reputable site like StockX to buy sneakers, the delivery cost would be too expensive and could run up to US$80 per delivery.
I decided to team up with Zii Jia, who happens to be an acquaintance from my hometown. We share a common interest in collecting streetwear and sneakers. And we knew that if we wanted to Urban WallStreet to be big, we needed his star power as a national athlete to represent the brand on both the local and international stage.
What is Urban WallStreet's value proposition?
The whole idea behind Urban WallStreet is to manage a collector's risk by facilitating buying, selling and trading of products. All products listed are put through multiple layers of inspection for their authenticity before they are viewable by the public.
During the inspection process, we ensure that the product is in good condition and packaged properly. Once we can confirm its authenticity, we send it over to the buyer and approve the payment made to the seller. Currently, we are not charging users a transaction fee for using the platform. We want to make the process as friendly as possible and build a critical mass of users before we take any sort of commission.
What is the biggest obstacle you face with the business and how are you overcoming it?
Finding the tipping point for the business and achieving critical mass has been a challenge. The question we ask ourselves is how do we target the masses while promoting streetwear and sneakers as premium collectable items. That being said, one way around this conundrum is to focus on offering our users a great customer experience. Once we are able to do that, it doesn't matter how difficult the process is, we will be able to gain a foothold in our market.
What is next for Urban WallStreet?
We want our platform to be every collector's go-to destination to buy, sell and trade authentic streetwear and sneakers. It is still too early to tell, but if this business model proves successful, we may look at expanding our presence to other markets in Southeast Asia. We are confident that we are in a good position as there are no other competitors in the region pursuing a similar business model, so we should be able to leverage our strong reseller network and attract more users to list on our platform.
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