Owen Osinde has been a fan of sneakers for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life,” he says. “When you’re a kid playing basketball growing up, you’re always looking to get your next pair of shoes. Ok, what pair of shoes am I going to wear this season.”
By the time he reached high school, he had started seeking out rarer shoes.
“I wanted these Air Jordan 1s black and gold edition,” he says. With a limited budget, he looked for the best price online. Thinking he had found a great deal on eBay, he bought a pair.
“I got them and they ended-up being fake,” he says.
Now, Osinde is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else.
He’s the CEO and co-founder of Sneakerdeck, it’s a social commerce website and aimed at sneaker collectors.
“We’re a sneaker marketplace and what we do is we help sneaker heads sell their sneakers to a more tight-knit community,” he says. “It’s a much safer marketplace.”
Counterfeit sneakers are a big problem. Sneaker brands often release limited-edition shoes, intentionally keeping supply below demand.
“In the secondary market, the value appreciates over time,” Osinde says. “So you can buy a pair of shoes for $300 retail and in the secondary market they can go for $800, $900.”
With an active resale market, much of which is online, there’s a big opportunity for scammers. Customers officials around the world regularly find counterfeit shoes.
A single shipment seized by Chilean authorities in December contained 16,454 pairs of counterfeit shoes, its street value was estimated at $32 million. For sneaker fans, it’s a big issue.
“You want to know you’re buying from a legit, credible seller,” Osinde says.
His goal with Sneakerdeck is in ensuring that all the sneakers sold through it are legitimate.
Currently, the site is focused on the resale market in Toronto. Osinde says the team wants to get the logistics right before it expands to other markets.
The site plans is to use a combination of sellers’ reputations and physically inspecting shoes to keep fakes off the site.
While the details are still being worked out, Osinde says, the plan is to have buyers review sellers after every transaction. Future buyers will be able to see those reviews. For shoes above a certain price-point, sellers will be required to send them to Sneakerdeck for verification before they’re sent to the buyer.
Below that price-point, buyers will have the option to trust the seller, based on their reputation on the platform, or pay a small fee to have the shoes verified by Sneakerdeck. Sellers will also have to verify their Sneakerdeck accounts using other social media platforms, links to those accounts will be visible to buyers.
“Our main focus is on creating a close community which is trusted,” Osinde says.
Osinde has big plans beyond expanding Sneakerdeck’s geographic reach. He wants to make the site something of a lifestyle-based social network, where users will be able to show off their sneaker collections as well as sell.
“We want to make an all-encompassing website that is for the sneaker community, helping re-sellers, helping brands and also helping businesses that sell sneakers,” he says.