Campless Morphs Into StockX, a “Stock Market” for Sneakers

In October, we brought you the news that Campless, a Philadelphia-based website calling itself the “Kelley Blue Book for sneakers,” had relocated to Detroit at the behest of investor Dan Gilbert. On Monday, Campless morphed into a new venture called StockX, which CEO Josh Luber described as the world’s first online “stock market of things,” featuring high-demand, limited-edition products.

A stock market, Luber said, is technically just a way to connect buyers and sellers. On the New York Stock Exchange, for instance, people connect to buy and sell shares in publicly traded companies. Under this broad definition, eBay could technically be considered a stock market. What makes StockX different is the NYSE-level trade analytics it offers.

“You don’t know who the person on the other end of the transaction is, and you don’t much care,” he explained. “StockX is the same concept, except it’s applied to shoes or other goods with the same kind of consumer dynamics, like women’s handbags, comic books, and coins. Anything that’s not a pure commodity or a one-of-a-kind item can be bought and sold using the same construct.”

StockX differs from traditional auction and e-commerce websites (like eBay) by being a live marketplace, Luber said. The site offers lots of data to its users, as well: historical price and volume metrics for each product, real-time bids and offers, time-stamped trades, and other analytics.

StockX also allows users to upload and display their own sneaker portfolios, to have fun and manage inventory. Once uploaded, the company prices these portfolios in real time so users can measure gains and losses, and compare their portfolio to others on the site. For now, StockX only trades sneakers, but Luber said if the concept takes off, other types of products will follow.

When the site went live on Monday, StockX had thousands of pairs of limited-release sneakers in a wide variety of brands and styles. Only original, unworn, perfectly preserved boxed sneakers, known as deadstock, are allowed to trade on StockX. The company physically takes possession of each pair on offer at the site, shipping them to buyers only after a verification process. The number one problem with incoming shoes? Fakes, Luber said.

“A lot of sales happen online with no accountability,” he said. “With StockX, we stand in the middle, and that’s never been done in the sneaker world before. Counterfeits are a big problem because the fakes keep getting better.”

Luber said he knew StockX would need to develop the expertise to suss out faux sneakers—the company won’t settle trades until it has verified the sneakers are 100 percent real—so he set about hiring the guy behind a popular Instagram account called Fake_Education. (Don’t click unless you’re prepared to spend more time than you planned marveling at how tiny the differences are between real and fake sneakers.)

“It’s the craziest story,” he added. “Everyone in the industry goes to Fake_Education, so we decided to hire him. As it turns out, he happened to live right here in Detroit.” The short commute should come in handy, since Luber said vetting the authenticity of the shoes sold on StockX will remain “a huge part of what we do.”

To make money, StockX charges sellers a 10 percent fee on each transaction. (EBay, Luber said, charges a 13 percent fee.) The 10-person company’s investors include Detroit Venture Partners and Courtside Ventures, both founded by Gilbert; SV Angel; and Ludlow Ventures. StockX is expecting to announce additional investors—“several high-profile entertainers, athletes, and prominent figures in the sneaker world,” according to the press release—later this year. A mobile app will go live in about a month.

Luber said his main goal for the company’s first year of life is to prove the model works—that people will buy and sell these types of consumer goods the same way they will shares of Apple stock. He’s also looking to bring on an Android developer full-time. So far, he said, consumer response to StockX has been “really positive.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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