The startup Graal Spotter, founded by Forézien Enzo Soulier, sells rare ‘sneakers’. Until then, solely on e-commerce, the company believes the vault is strong enough to settle in the city center of Saint-Etienne and open a showroom there. For beginners, a sneaker is not a chocolate bar, but a shoe with sporting origins, dedicated to other uses, some of which are limited edition models, fashion accessories that collectors buy at exorbitant prices…
With a name like that, we can’t help but argue that the activity was destined for him. Enzo Soulier, who is only 22 years old, has certainly put his foot down by entering entrepreneurship very early. His startup, he made it official on the 1er June 2021. But he had been working on it since his return to school in 2020 with a license “facilitator information and internet technology” at the IUT of Saint-Etienne. “Before that I was already at the IUT but in Roanne in marketing technology. I have always been very nerd, social networks, touch everything on the internet with the idea of having my own business soon. However, it was my studies at the IUT that orientated me towards digital marketing »says Enzo Soulier, the founder of Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert.
However, it is in Sury-le-Comtal, in the house where his parents now live, that his business is currently located. Here again a parent garage has been asked – in this case for order preparation – as part of the launch of a successful startup. Before that, Enzo Soulier had tried his hand at the flop, that of his clothing brand — sold in dropshipping (without inventories) — Targetclother, then launched as a teenager via Instagram. “I had developed my community on Instagram, as an influencer and even partnered with JD sports and brands. A good experience that led me to create Targetclother. But that didn’t work. †
Sneakers can go up to more than €20,000!
But since one can always learn from his failures and Enzo Soulier still has his whole life ahead of him, another idea quickly came to him by making the connection with his passion for “sneakers”. Originally, sneakers were a pair of shoes for sports use, but were eventually diverted for everyday use in the city and then as a true fashion accessory. Over time, brands such as Nike, Adidas or Converse and many others have realized that it is in their communication interest to organize the rarity of certain models that are voluntarily supplied drop by drop to distributors. The craze for these limited editions is sometimes incredibly strong and now stems from exchanges between passionate collectors. A model can now exceed 20.000 €!
“For the fans, they are works of art. Where a painting appeals to the sensitivity of some, for them it is sneakers with a certain design and characteristics. I fell for it when I was 16. You must know that it is a whole environment with its codes, its lexical fieldexplains Enzo Soulier, owner of a personal collection of 200 shoes, only 20 of which are regularly borrowed at his feet. You will never find this type of shoe at large retailers such as GO sport, Intersport or Decathlon. More among specialists, Snipes in the lead, although JD Sports, Courir or Foot Locker have also since followed. But a delivery to them remains an event: they are robbed very quickly. †
An NFT type authentication system
The most passionate push logic to constantly buy and then resell models with the aim of acquiring other more popular models. Some have made it their profession. The opportunities to buy renowned sneakers in shops that were rare outside of Paris, Lyon and sometimes a few big cities, Enzo Soulier, he had launched a specific group in the Saint-Etienne conurbation on Instagram with a friend. It counted up to 75 members. Not enough to make it a local business. Hence the launch of his start-up and e-commerce site of the same name 10 months ago: Graal Spotter. “We broke up with my partner quickly and I bought his shares. I am now alone at the head of the company, but I was already able to recruit an intern and an intern in January. We are of course not the first in this area and there are indeed a dozen solid competitors in France. †
Thus, to differentiate itself, Graal Spotter took advantage of the online authentication system of the NFT product that the blockchain (information transmission technology) can provide by offering its buyers the application of a Swiss start-up, CollectID. “Operation is quite simple: we supply a zipper with implanted NFC technology with all our products. We preconfigure this zipper, which we attach to the eyelet of the pair of sneakers. Once configured, the sneakers now have a unique identifier (identification token) that takes place in the blockchain developed by CollectID. The user thus has the 100% guarantee that his pair has been authenticated by us. †
His sneaker store will open in July
Grail Spotter has sold 600 pairs since the site opened, offering no less than 2,500 models (each with different sizes depending on stock) from emblematic brands: Nike (including Air Jordans), Adidas (including Kanye West’s Yeezy) but also Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Converse and New Balance, not to mention “exclusive collaborations”. On the site that accompanies the descriptions with files that testify to a real effort of “storytelling” specific to the universe of the fans, there also certain models reach several thousand euros, even if the prices for others start at a few tens . “We are not discussing with brands, but with thousands of individuals, resale professionals whose seriousness and absence of counterfeits we guarantee”says Enzo Soulier.
With a first exercise in a year and a half that should lead to a turnover of € 400,000, the young entrepreneur wants to move on to a new phase of his company. It opens – the signing is imminent – in a very busy area of the center of Saint-Etienne, normally in July, a showroom sale of 40 m2 for rent to which its offices will be attached. “For exchange between enthusiasts, it is better to have a physical anchor. To also reach a clientele especially parents or grandparents of teens who are still reluctant to e-commerce. And then I’m happy that Sainté can have his shop specializing in sneakers like in a very big city. † Enzo Soulier is optimistic about the development of his activity and aims for a turnover of 3 to 4 M€ from 2023 and about ten employees from the beginning of next year. Thus ended the garage of the parents: this beautiful world would undoubtedly have stepped on each other’s toes.