Young Leeds entrepreneur that dressed footballers and Love Island stars lands six-figure Dragon's Den-style investment to launch online sneaker marketplace
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Having bought and sold limited edition sneakers online for as much as £10,000 over the last decade before becoming a personal stylist, Oli Macer, 26, has now created an online marketplace called QOPPD where shoppers can buy and sell bespoke footwear.
Tens of thousands of pairs of limited edition Air Jordan, Nike, New Balance and Adidas shoes are now being bought and sold on QOPPD (pronounced ‘copped’) by hordes of fanatical collectors.
The project was kicked into gear after Oli received an offer for a “Dragon’s Den style” investment from an investor that told him he would match any financial input that Oli put in.
While the exact amount is set to grow as Oli puts in more funds, the website has already had a six-figure sum of money pumped into it.
Oli said: “With a passion for sneakers and more than a decade of experience supplying limited edition items, I designed QOPPD with the idea of bringing authentic sold-out sneakers and streetwear into one convenient marketplace.”
It’s a long way from Oli’s humble forays into the world of business, which started while he was still a student at Leeds Grammar School and he set his sights on purchasing a pair of Asics Gel Lyte shoes made in collaboration between Ronnie Fieg and Asics, of which the 300 pairs made were sold from just the one store in New York City.
Oli said: “Being from Leeds it was impossible to get my hands on them.”
Having already accrued a vast selection of sneakers, Oli took to selling some of his pairs second hand and made got his first sale from a pair of £20 Vans, which earned him a small profit.
After raising enough so that he could buy the desired pair of shoes, Oli realised that he might have unintentionally established the foundations of a small business and so continued buying and selling shoes throughout his A-level studies at Tadcaster Grammar School.
Since then Oli has continuously bought and sold sneakers online, with his most expensive pair being a set of Nike Vapormax with LED lights in them that were designed by Cactus Plant Flea Market (of which only 12 pairs were made) – which were sold for a whopping £10,000.
He said: “I started out with just £3,000 savings from growing up. After seeing how much could be made I invested every penny into buying shoes that I knew could sell for a healthy profit.
"This quickly grew into an online sneaker resale and personal shopping business with which I grew a large client based and made as much as £80,000 in revenue in just one month.”
Oli would utilise social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook to market and promote his products and after building himself a following of thousands, he started to catch the attention of more high profile names that wanted to utilise his contacts and his eye for style.
Some of those he has worked for include Strictly Come Dancing star Gorka Márquez, Love Island’s Tyne Lexy, fashion model and influencer Daisey O’Donnell and a selection of footballers that play for Leeds United and Hull City.
Oli explained: “Some people come back regularly.
"I realise what they like and what they want so they come back wanting similar things.”
As well as selling online, Oli also built his reputation by travelling to conventions where likeminded souls would gather to trade and discuss all things shoe related.
But what is it about pairs of shoes that makes people so fanatical and willing to pay so much?
Oli said: “I feel that shoes are the building blocks that the rest of your outfit work around. They can hold your whole look together.
"It seems to me that you can have a £20 shirt that will look similar to a £200 shirt but if you have a cheap pair of shoes on then you’re going to know about it.”
He added: “I think it’s one thing getting a nice pair of shoes but, also, one of the reasons that people will pay so much for these expensive, limited edition pairs is because they’re ones that have been collaborated on with people like Travis Scott or Virgil Abloh.
"It gives people a sense of culture and community by having something these people have designed.”
Having built something of a name for himself and after seeing the interest in bespoke sneakers grow and grow, Oli formulated the plan to build an online marketplace for the sneakerheads to meet and swap.
Oli said: "Supply on these highly sought after sneakers remains low, therefore sneakers have gone from something you might need to go for a run in, to a great investment toward another source of income or just some extra cash for young likeminded entrepreneurs.
"That said, over the past few years the rise of the sneaker resellers boomed, making the market more and more saturated. Naturally the young entrepreneur goes to marketplace websites to sell to their huge database of buyers, however, most marketplaces are foreign causing limitations for business.
"With QOPPD, I wanted to provide the UK reseller with a reliable hub to buy and sell their rare sneakers.”
Through family Oli was able to find another local businessman with the required background in online website development to help launch QOPPD with a match investment.
The website is now up and running and Oli hopes it will become the go-to place where buyers can get their kicks.