Interview with Justin Truong from PUSHAS

This week, Horacio sat down with Justin Truong, Co-founder & CEO of PUSHAS, a sneaker marketplace (and sneaker fund!) based in Australia which is on the heels of global expansion.

Discussion topics include:

  • Building PUSHAS from the ground up by trading on sneaker groups on Facebook
  • The Ultra Boost Yeezy as his first true immersion into sneaker culture
  • How the sneaker industry is more accessible for women than typical asset classes
  • Using consignment to build the business and making a decision to go into the sneaker business full-time in 2019
  • Finding a niche by dealing with high-end, high-volume resellers by managing the entire sales process
  • Managing a limited supply problem by starting a sneaker fund overnight to provide more liquidity
  • How the PUSHAS sneaker fund encompasses 6,000 pairs of sneakers and produced a 60% return
  • The advantages of working full-time in the sneaker industry to spot trends
  • Australia as a smaller sneaker market compared to other countries and the importance of a secondary market
  • The advantages of the PUSHAS model of authenticating bulk sellers
  • The prevalence of counterfeit sneakers and the importance of having a great eye and a system for spotting fakes
  • PUSHAS expanding into the US with headquarters in Los Angeles
  • Building the PUSHAS brand around community
  • PUSHAS strategy to work with Stock X and GOAT rather than competing against them
  • Sneakers as a stable alternative asset class

You can listen to the podcast through Spotify or YouTube.


[Horacio Ruiz]

Hi, I’m Horacio Ruiz, host of the Alts podcast. On today’s episode, you’ll hear from Justin Truong, co-founder and CEO of Pusha’s. A sneaker reselling platform based out of Australia. Justin talks about his journey from selling sneakers as a law student to make ends meet, all the way to creating a sneaker fund investment vehicle with six thousand sneakers. Pusha’s is also expanding into the United States in the coming year. You can learn more about them on pusha.com, P-U-S-H-A-S or, Instagram on Pushas official. I know you’ll learn a lot from today’s episode and find Justin to be a wealth of knowledge in this sneaker industry. Let’s go.

[Horacio Ruiz]

All right, Justin, thank you for joining us tonight. It’s really a privilege to have you here and really to learn about Pushas and what you’re doing in Australia. Welcome to the show.

[Justin Truong]

Thank you for having me.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Justin, you are a sneakerhead, right? A self-described sneakerhead. So much so that you’ve started this marketplace for secondary sales of collectible sneakers. How did you get into the space? Were you always, from when you were a kid always, into like the sneakerhead culture? Or is that something that you kind of grew into as you got older? 

[Justin Truong]

Yeah, so I think growing up as a kid, we were always in the culture. Like, I think you have one of the earliest memories that I have was the Space Jam movie. I don’t know if you remember that movie, but that had the Jordan elevens in them, that were really insane. And so, as a kid you can never really afford them. Right. And so, I was growing up with like converse. I was a big converse sneakerhead. So, my parents would allow me to buy maybe one pair a year. And the budget was like $50, $60 or something. Right. And so, I had a collection of converse sneakers. But it wasn’t until during university, when the yeezy drop started to come out, that I really started to dive in deep again. I was always following the culture, but I was never able to afford it. And then the first Altura’s came out, the Yeezy came out during that era. That’s when really dived in.

[Horacio Ruiz]


You know. I remember when that Yeezy came out and correct me, man, because I – and I’m not part of that sneakerhead culture because I – and I was into it when I was younger. But when I found out Kanye West is coming out with sneakers, to me, I was like, what does he know about sneakers? Right. But it turns out that man, it was like a cultural phenomenon.

 [Justin Truong]

Kanye has always been into sneakers. So, I, even when he first came out, he was rocking the freshest sneakers and he had a really good Nike collab and they were the OG yeezy’s. They’re going for like crazy amount of money. But, even in back like early, when I was in high school, Kanye was always one of the freshest guys in town. Right. Like I just don’t know anyone who dresses more fresh than him. Like he was the Louise Viton don. So, I think you’re right. I think in terms of being a sneaker creator, like in terms of working for Adidas and designing a whole range, I was kind of sceptical as well. I understand. But I think his collabs were always fire with Nike. So, I had trust in Yeezy’s.

[Horacio Ruiz]

So you’re getting into the yeezys, that’s where your interest kind of peaked a little bit. Tell me a little bit though. It looked like a lot of times you were having trouble finding like these authentic sneakers or, maybe like as you were trying to get into the environment, right, the sneaker environment, the authentication was an issue.  Were you running into a lot of like fake sneakers and how prevalent is that?

[Justin Truong]

Yeah, so during that time I saw that the mark was like doing really crazy. I was digging into it, and we were just reselling sneakers so that we could afford like pairs to buy. Right. And so, me and my partner, Sandy, we were reselling sneakers, but it was really hard because I think around that time as well, Goat and stock X started to pop off. But when you were buying a pair on those platforms, you paid exorbitant. Like shipping to Australia. Like you can imagine Australia is like this island on the other side of the world. If you’re buying shoes, some stock X, and Goat, they were primarily based in the US, they were just unattainable. It was already resale price. And then you had to tack on that, like shipping on top. So, it was just impossible to get good pairs here. And so, when we were here, we were just like, man, like we were just trading in sneaker groups on Facebook. We were doing like random stuff at line-ups. At stores we were seeing people getting stock. And so, it was a really hard process, right. To be honest with you. And so, we were like, why don’t we just like start, selling our own stock and start reselling and putting up a Shopify store. And that’s how we started. We were just posting up like a Shopify store. We had some of our stock, we were selling some of our friend’s stock that were in the sneaker scene in Australia with us. And we were helping them on consignment. But it was just a small thing that me and Sandy were doing just so that we can afford that to pay the bills, I guess, and buy more sneakers to feed our addiction, I guess. Well, mostly Sandy’s addiction. She – I had more self-control than she did. She was buying pairs like every two weeks.


[Horacio Ruiz]

You know, it’s funny, Sandy Lee is your co-founder and I’m going through your site. Right. And I’m seeing all the pictures that are posted with people that are giving you reviews. And man, half of the, the reviews are from women. And I think it speaks to the diversity of the culture, right. It’s not just like a male dominated or woman dominated field, like it speaks to everybody. Right. And having a woman co-founder I think is cool. Like you don’t find that man. Just to be perfectly blunt we – especially in this Alternative Assets class, you don’t see women as involved as I see that the women are involved with their sneakers. 


[Justin Truong]

Yeah. I think it’s – it was natural for us, right. Like Sandy she was my co-founder, but she was also my life partner. Like we were, we’ve been dating now she’s my fiancé. It was just natural for us. Like, it wasn’t planned, like this wasn’t one of those stories where being a start-up, you kind of look for a co-founder and do all that stuff. Like for us, it was quite organic. And sneakers is one of those alternate assets that I find, you’re right, like women love it. Right. Like it’s interesting because you know, I’m across a couple of other alternate assets too. And even NFTs it’s mostly male dominated. Like yes, you get a couple of influencers here and there, but I’d say the majority of people buying NFTs or crypto are male. I guess it could be that it can be alienating, especially with certain cultures. But with sneaker culture, we find that you have celebrities that are both male and female rocking sneakers right. In the music videos, in movies, ETC. And so, I think like it’s always been a very accessible alternate asset class to both men and women, which I love. Right. If anything, Sandy was probably a bigger sneakerhead than I was. So, I think, yeah, it’s interesting. And I don’t say this in any other asset class.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Yeah. I mean, I would imagine there’s a natural time to fashion. Right. But when you think of sneakerhead, right. Also, you think about all these professional athletes and all these other guys that have influenced the space, like Jordan’s right. It’s a basketball shoe essentially, but then this basketball shoe turned into this iconic symbol and then it’s kind of led into, like you said, Kanye west kind of revolutionised the game. Right. Like his designs kind of opened up a new pathway.

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. Like non basketball, hype sneakers kind of class. Right. Like, I feel like even though with Jordan’s, they are a street sneaker, right. Like it’s been kind of, street cultures kind of taken over. But they’re still – originally, they were made for the court. Whereas I feel like yeezy’s, they were designed as a fashion statement. Right. And I think that’s what made them different and that’s what really made the market more accessible. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Absolutely. So, you saw that getting these sneakers ship to you from stock X was expensive. And what you effectively have done is you’ve built like the stock X of Australia. Right. You’ve become this – one of the leaders for a managed marketplace for secondary sales. Take me through that journey. I mean – and you mentioned it before, when you were selling sneakers from your apartment and then you saw that, holy cow this has taken off. Like we actually have a legitimate business here. What’s that been like growing that business? And then describe to me the foundation for the business. Like, are you depending on resellers, do you do wholesale? Take me through that journey.

[Justin Truong]

The business has gone through a lot of iterations. I’ll be honest with you. Like a lot of people expect us to be like this crazy visionary founders who built this company. But I’ll be honest with you. That was not the case. We kind of just iterated and stumbled as we went. So, like I mentioned before, right, we were in university, I was in law school, and we were reselling sneakers just to make a few bucks. And it wasn’t until we graduated uni in 2019 that we were like, are we going to go to our full-time jobs or are we going to do this full time? And we were like, you know what, let’s just do this full time. We can always go back to a job. So, what we did was we actually turned it into a marketplace. So similar to goat, similar to stock ex. But it was really hard to compete with them, especially since they were both really growing in Australia as well. And their brand recognition was insane. Because obviously their marketing is great, right. Like, those companies are great companies. And so, we had to find a different angle instead of just doing the kind of managed marketplace that they did. Our niche began. It became dealing with more, the higher end resellers. So, the ones that are doing this in high volumes. because you can imagine if you’re selling on goat or stock X, if you have like 10 pairs, it’s actually pretty hard to sell because you’re listing each one individually. And so, what happens is every time you ask gets accepted, you’re having to ship that shoe. And so, if you’re a uni student selling sneakers in bulk, what happens is, say you sell three pairs that day and you ship – you go to the post office and you ship it off to stock X to authenticate. The next day you’ve got to do another three pair. So, it becomes a process where you’re going to the post office every day to sell your sneakers. And so, we realise that pain point. And so, what happens was we started optimising our business towards those higher volume resellers. And what we allowed was that they can just drop off their sneakers with us, their 10 pairs. And we just managed that whole sales process for them. And so, there was really no, both cognitive load and administrative load that they had to deal with. That was really cool. And that model helped us get to a lot of traction. And so, as that grew out, building a marketplace as you know, new supply and demand, right. Chicken and egg problem. So, what happened was we were actually like, actually we need more supply if we’re going to do this properly and get the volumes, we need to be sustainable. Fortunately, I put up a Twitter post one day, a tweet one day and I was just like, hey, would anyone want to invest in the sneaker fund? And because we were reselling our own sneakers, we knew that we were making really decent returns. We were able to close the investment round in less than 24 hours. It was insane. Like I did not expect it to happen. I just thought we might get like 10, 20 grand and buy more stock and to sell it. But we had like over 200K interested. And so, we didn’t know how we were going to do a sneaker fund too. Like that was, I guess the admin side of things, we just didn’t know what we’re doing, but being a start-up and hustling, you kind of just set – you commit to it. And you’re like, you know what, we’re going to figure this out. And so, we did that. We started up the funds in three months, we got really great returns. Investors were really happy. So, they wanted to put in more money. We took in another 300 grand and then this was around August last year. And now it’s been like 14, 15 months and the funds returned over 60%. So that’s been insane. Right. And on top of that, it’s helped provide us with a pool of capital to play with so that we can help cash out outreach sellers if needed. And that we see ourselves as like an open door for sneakers where we’re able to provide that instant liquidity if needed on that front. But also, we run a sneaker fund where we have LPs or [inaudible 00:12:14] that are investing in this asset class. And so, we’re running like a marketplace, an instant liquidity kind of play, and then also the sneaker fund. So that really interesting to us.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Justin, what is the sneaker fund composed of? Right. So basically, you take some of the capital that you get from your LPs, you invested in a pool of sneakers and then once those get resold, you kind of have your returns. Is that what the sneaker fund is?

[Justin Truong]

Exactly. Right. So, we are very diversified. We’re invested in, I think right now we’re invested in over like 6,000 pairs at any one time, we’re basically arbitraging, right? Like our strategy is that we have really good data on our platform as to what’s trending, the pricing action, the volume action of certain sneakers. And so, we use that data to buy stock and then once we used it to buy stock, it usually flips within a couple of months. And then we use those funds to then continue to buy stock and recycling and grow the fund.

[Horacio Ruiz]

What are you noticing in your data? Like, I imagine it stretches beyond just the Jordans and the Yeezy’s right. I mean, is it surprising how quickly the trends change, or is it something that’s been kind of steady? And how quick on your feet do you have to be in the purchases that you make?

[Justin Truong]

Yeah, so I think we have a bit of a lead time compared to the rest of the market. I think like, especially talking to other resellers as well. Like I feel like we’re able to pick up on trends. It’s pretty quick. The feedback loop is pretty quick. It will probably be – you can start to anticipate searches on the website, what people are searching for, ETC. And we probably have like a once, two-week lead time before the market starts to reflect those prices. So, we have to act really quickly. We find that the trends are kind of moving away from the traditional Jordan retros and Yeezys and more towards New Balances, even as well as Nike Dunks, they’re doing really well. But the market’s so dynamic. Like you have to be doing this full time. Like, I think it’s not – it’s become so sophisticated now that you need to be doing this full time to really be doing well. Like I think when we first started reselling, trends moved a lot slower, I think because the sneaker market was a lot smaller. And so, there was not enough action. But now trends are changing every month. And so, you have to really be on top of it with the day-to-day sneaker changes, what celebrities are doing, what they’re wearing, what’s the pricing action. Like what’s supply like? What countries they getting the most supply of the certain sneakers? And how’s that playing out? Are there arbitrage opportunities for us to buy stock in other countries and then sell it into Australia or vice versa. It’s so deep. And it’s so intimate now that our engineers are working really hard to help us build our pricing model. And that’s really one of the things that we’re focusing on now.

[Horacio Ruiz]

You mentioned how complex and how diverse it is and how many moving parts there are. And I’m actually thinking, you being based in Australia, you have a really unique perspective on the sneakers, right. The culture. And not just that, but the supply chain, right? Who are you selling to? Right. Is it just Australia? Are you sending to surrounding countries? And how is that getting like – let’s say supply from, I don’t know, China, or someone like the Koreas, like what is that market like? As opposed to being in the States where it’s just, you know, hey, it’s the United States, whatever we do here goes, right. But man, you have like this international perspectives.

[Justin Truong]

It’s really interesting. Because I find that being in Australia, you’re able to then have a vantage point, because you’re just a small country. Right. And like, if you’re going to grow, you need to be international. So, like – I think about this in two ways. So, one way is the supply side. So, on the supply side, I actually think that – and what we’re currently doing now is we’re getting supply worldwide. Right. I think that’s the only way to kind of play in this market. Australia doesn’t get that many releases. We usually get the worst stock, right. Just because I think a lot of the brands see us as a small market for them. And so, they don’t really try here. And so, supply wise we have to buy from Asia, Europe, the US, ETC.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Would you say that you guys, the supply, you get hails in comparison say even like Japan? 


[Justin Truong]

Yeah. No, definitely our supply is really low. Like we probably take maybe one and a half to two and a half percent of sneaker releases. Well globally. So, we’re really small. Wow. So, like, let’s say for example, they’re releasing a million pairs. We’d probably take one and a half, two and a half percent of that in Australia. Like as a market, they’re probably released that much in Australia. 

[Horacio Ruiz]


So that’s amazing because the figure I’m thinking of now, you said the 1% to 2%. So, joggle my brain here. Australia, and correct me if I’m wrong accounts for 10% though, of sneaker sales. 

[Justin Truong]

Yes. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

So that’s amazing that tells you there’s a huge opportunity there.

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. I think the thing that actually makes that number compelling is actually because people are reselling, right? So, like for example, if on the secondary market, you’re not just selling once or twice, right, like you’re selling – you might be selling twice, three times. And so, say you might only have, let’s say 2% of the sneaker releases, but what happens is, say those sneakers are being resold a couple of times, that kind of lifts up the total market, if that makes sense. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Okay. So, you’re basically saying, you’re telling that the resell market is thriving. And part of that is because your supply’s so low? 

[Justin Truong]

Yes, exactly. And because we’re buying stock from overseas – there’s a lot of resellers that are bringing stock from overseas over to. Right. And that’s why our resell market’s so, so huge. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Wow. One of the big things that you offer is you talk about the bulk sellers and they just hand everything to you and you manage the entire process. How important is the authentication process? Like how often do you run into, I guess, forgeries, right. But how important is that also to your brand and people trusting that you’re getting the real deal? 

[Justin Truong]

I think the great thing about our model as well is that we authenticate the reseller and then we also then authenticate – we spot check the stock that comes in. So let me explain. So effectively, let’s say if they’re sending in ten shoes, right, what happens is we authenticate the seller. So, we know that they’re authentic. And so, we’re a lot more prudent in accepting sellers than the other platforms are. And then when the stock comes, that means that what happens is we can spot check. Let’s say like out of the ten, we only have to check two. And if two are authentic, we know that generally speaking, the other eight are going be authentic as well. And because these resellers are relying on us so much as a resale channel, they don’t want to ruin that relationship. Whereas the other platforms, what happens is they’re allow for like any seller to come in the resell. And because it’s not bulk, they have to check every single pair that comes through the platform. And if you are a bad actor on one of these platforms, you don’t risk anything by sending in something fake rate. If you send in a fake sneaker, you just get banned and then you create a new account and you just resell again. Whereas with us, because we are authenticating the reseller, that means that if they send us a fake and we ban them, generally speaking, they’re not going to be able to resell with us again. And so, there’s a lot more to you lose. And so, we actually don’t have that many bad actors on our platform. And there’s a very small number of fakes that come into our platform. And usually if it is fake, it’s because the reseller themselves couldn’t tell. And that’s why they’ve sent in a fake. But we usually send it back. We’re like hey, these are fake. And they’re like, oh I didn’t know that. Sorry about that. And then they kind of deal with that on their end. So yeah, our model makes it really great for us because the operational overhead is really low. But also, the success rate of authentic sneakers is actually quite high as well, compared to the other platform. 


[Horacio Ruiz]


Yeah. I mean, you need to have that relationship with the resellers. They’re not just like some people that you don’t know. Right. Because they depend on you, you depend on them. Right. I mean, that’s how it works with your model. Describe to me like how easy is it to spot a fake? Because that just fascinates me. I mean, what are some of the best, for lack of a better word – the best forgeries that you’ve ever seen? Where it’s like, well, man, this is getting a little, dicey here. 

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. So, I think for us, it’s actually pretty hard to spot fakes now because I think to the untrained eye, they’re getting so good. But I’ll be honest, I’m actually not that great at spotting fakes. Our team is exceptional. Like our ops team, I would say we probably have one of the best authentication teams in the world. Most of them have been working for the primary brands for five plus years. And then they join us because we’re doing something interesting. Sandy, for example, she was working at another major band previously to starting Pushas. And that was her job. And so, she has a really great eye on fakes, and she’s come up with a lot of really good systems and processes with the team to actually spot fakes. And so, I’m no longer kind of in that part of the business, in authentication. So, I’m actually not the best. And, sometimes the team tests me as well, which is really interesting. They’re like, Hey, which one’s fake. And I might get it right only 60% of the time. Right. We don’t get many issues at all. Because they’ve just come up with a robust process that stamps out a lot of the Forgeries. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

First of all, I think it’s kind of alarming, right? That the fakes have gotten so good to where somebody who’s around sneakers kind of has a hard time spotting the fakes. but then your model speaks to having that due diligence. Right. You guys, you take that extra step of vetting the reseller. And it just makes you kind of wonder what’s out there. As you were, building the business, you have your sneaker fund and I know you finished a $1.2 million raise in October?

[Justin Truong]

It was announced in October, but we closed it in late July, early August. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Are there plans for expanding out of Australia? And how easy is it to kind of copy that model that you have, and doing that somewhere else, even say, I don’t know, say the United States, right. Is that in your plans to move to the United States at some point? 

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. It’s funny that you say that we’re actually launching in LA early next year. So, we have a team that’s there and they’re setting up as we speak. So, like you said right, the US is such a huge market and that’s where most of the sneaker releases are, as well as that’s where I guess a lot of the cultural trends and the buyers are as well. And so that’s a big part of our expansion plan moving forward.


[Horacio Ruiz]

How is that going in LA? I mean, how do you find it running a business right in or across Pacific? 

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. So, I think with us it’s having a good team that you trust. Our head of growth is based there. So, she’s a C-suite exec and I trust that she’s there and she’s really good at what she does. Our US ops lead, she was actually trained in Sydney. So trained with our ops team for a couple of months before moving there. So having a good team really helps. I guess, for me and Sandy as well, next year we plan to be there a lot of the time to learn about the market as well. But I think the great thing with the reselling is that resellers aren’t geographically limited. So, what I mean by that is, if you’re an Australian reseller, you can always buy stock from the US from the US online stores. Right? And so, the relationships that we have with existing resellers, whether they’re resellers from Asia, EU, or even the US, they’re really established. So, launching in the US isn’t actually like that hard. We don’t have to start from scratch because our networks are already existing. So that makes it really easy for us. But I think it’s more learning about the nuances and the idiosyncrasies of the market that we really need to learn about. But in terms of kind of setting up our reseller network and doing all that, like that’s something that I think the team is really on track doing. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

And while you’re also busy doing that, you’re also building your brand as Pushas, right? You have your own clothing line, and I know that you have like this kind of like limited drops, right? So, you have a shirt with a certain design and it’s only out for a period of time, or you only have a limited number of shirts available. How is that building your brand? How do you find that people recognise the brand in Australia? And are you planning on doing the same in the states where you – that brand recognition is so important, right?

 [Justin Truong]

Yeah. So, I think for us, our brand – and this is the one thing that I think we are really good at is our community. I think a lot of the other kind of exchanges, they they’re kind of utilitarian. A lot of the other sneak exchanges. They’re, they’re quite utilitarian and there’s no brand sentiment there. Whereas for us, I find that our resellers and our customers are really proud to be Pusha’s customers, right. Like we release hundreds of, let’s say a t-shirt in one style and we’ll leave it there. And most sizes will be selling out quite quickly. And there’s a community that’s built too around us. And I think like for us, we’re trying to build a movement as well, which is the fact that what our brand stands for is the fact that it’s all about hustle culture, and it’s all about sneaker resellers, and it’s all about kind of paving your own path to make a living in your own way, whether you’re pushing sneakers or you’re pushing NFT. Our brand is becoming synonymous with that. And that’s what our community likes about us. And for us, it’s organic. Like we don’t really have any core strategies to grow that side of the business. But it’s just great to know that people have such strong brand affinity with Pushas. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Could you speak a little bit about the Pushas syndicate? I know it’s of like a membership on your site, right. Where members get extra benefits. How has that been building that up? It’s a paid membership, but you’re kind of building the community that way as well, where you have special giveaways, you guys have raffles, things like that. Is that something that you’re focused on?

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. So, I think that’s something that we’ve done and just to test out and learn from. I think we’ve learned a lot from it. I think we’re probably going to revamp how it works for us. Like we have a strong community, and I think there’s different things that we can do to really grow that out. But I think the current iteration is good. Like, I think doing giveaways, people love that. Talking about sneakers, but I think there’s more that we are doing. And we have in the works to really grow that product out. And I think for us, we want to be able to integrate the kind of reselling side of things and being a sneaker reseller with the community as well. So that’s a focus of ours.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Definitely. So, coming into the United States, you’re expanding, you’re growing, is the ultimate, I guess, goal to kind of be up there with stock X or Goat? Or do you find yourself, hey, we’re going to work hard, we’re going to hustle and wherever we find ourselves, that’s where we’ll be. And you’ll trust yourselves. Is there a strategic plan to kind of compete with the competitors? Or do you find that you have that a niche, you have a different kind of angle to it?

[Justin Truong]

Yeah. So, I actually want to cooperate with the bigger players. The way I think about it is that Pushas is a platform that really focuses on supply. So, we really focus on serving the reseller. And so, we see stock X and go – like to be completely honest with you, we don’t want to be competitive with them. We actually want to cooperate with them. And we see them as like an exchange. So, if you think about equities, right, equities doesn’t just have like kind of one player, right. So, if you think about like the New York stock exchange and the NASDAQ, we see stock X and go as those exchanges. And we want to be a market maker in this ecosystem. So, we want to be, maybe the JP Morgan or the Goldman Sachs of sneaker reselling. And so, we have direct relationships with these resellers, and we provide liquidity. We are more kind of moving toward that supply centric offering. And in the future, we might be able to sell through Goat and stock X as well as a distribution channel. Like in Australia, we’re actually a really close partner with eBay Australia. And so, any sneaker that gets listed on Pushas, that gets listed on eBay Australia as well. And so, we’ve found that partnership to be really mutually beneficial for us, because we help eBay aggregate supply. And then they’re there working on that buyer-customer relationship. And so, ideally, I’d love to do that with all the marketplaces all over the world. Like I mentioned earlier in this chat, I think our business are evolving and we actually are – we believe that competition’s not the way to go and we believe that if you find a way to embed yourself in this ecosystem and actually provide value for the other players, that’s going help you grow more. And that’s core to our strategy.

[Horacio Ruiz]

You know, it’s refreshing to hear, I guess a lot of times when you think about business, you think about going to different markets. And the first thing you think about is the Coke-Pepsi wars, right. Or the Reebok-Nike wars. Right. And so, there’s always that rivalry. But you never think, hey, no, we’re not interested in competing. We kind of want to fit in and help everybody out.

[Justin Truong]

I think markets aren’t zero sum. Like when it comes to business, right? Like I actually think the best businesses know how to work together and expand markets. Right. Like, I think that’s our view. We think if you are kind of too zero sum, then you’re too interested in how big your slice of a pie is. But for us, we want to grow the pie, right. Like if the sneaker market 10X’ within the next three years, we are going 10X with it. Right. Like, it doesn’t really matter. And so, if there’s a way for us to work with our competitors, well, quote unquote competitors, but if there’s a way to work with them, that’s something that we much prefer to do.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah, absolutely. Take me down to the fundamentals of this. How would you describe that a sneaker is as an alternative asset, right. So is it basically getting your hands on a – or buying a sneaker at retail price and just basically sitting on it for a couple years. And then if the sneaker wasn’t in high enough demand, you can resell it for 2, 3, 4 X, depending on how long you hold it for?

[Justin Truong]

It’s really interesting, right. It’s actually really nuanced. Like there are some sneakers that are a better long haul. So, you look at any of the collaborations, they’re generally a really good long hold. Then the more kind of like general [inaudible 00:29:43] sneakers, they’re better to kind of – to flip and make 20, 25, 30% as you flip them within like a month or two. It really depends on the sneaker. And it really depends on the person’s investing strategy for us, and for our fund. We deploy a combination of those two strategies. And for us, it’s really figuring out what sneaker best suits that strategy, and kind of going towards that. And I think the way I think about someone’s sneaker portfolio is, sneakers are to be honest, they’re quite a stable asset in the sense that they’re not that volatile at all. Like most sneakers aren’t going to go to zero. Like you might lose money on some sneakers, which probably for us, maybe about 1% of our sneakers we might lose on. But generally speaking, you’re never going to get zero, because there’s utility there, right. Like if you have a sneaker, worst comes to worse, like someone’s going to buy it from you at retail. Right? So, like your downside is actually quite limited. Like I actually find that even if we do lose money on a sneaker, we probably use what like 5% of our capital invested. Maybe if that. whereas the upside is high. And so, I think of sneakers as more of an asset that’s akin to gold, right. Where it’s kind of something shiny that humanity has always liked. Obviously, the difference with gold is that gold, there’s only a finite amount of gold in the world. But I think that’s something that Nike and Adidas and the other brands are doing with most sneakers, right, they really control supply. And so, there’s that artificial supply constraint anyway. And so, I see sneakers as a very critical part of anyone’s investing portfolio to have exposure there. But where you’re happy to kind of have it in, I guess, a non-volatile asset that’s going to kind of hold its value and really, especially with inflation, we don’t know because we’ve never been in an inflationary environment, but my guess is that sneakers will hold quite well to inflation, just because Nike will have to raise their prices. Right. And if they raise their prices, the price of the sneakers will inevitably come up from the secondary market. And so, I think it’s just one of those asset classes that I think you should have a bit of exposure to, right. In a very well-rounded portfolio. And depending obviously on your goals of your asset allocation.


[Horacio Ruiz]

Well, listen, I find your sneaker fund fascinating. And the fact that you have, 6,000 pairs in it, I mean, are there any plans on expanding that? And if not, like if somebody can’t get in on a fund, or something similar to it, like if somebody else has that, I don’t know what they do. How would you recommend to like a listener, right. Like, hey, I want to put my money down on a nice pair of sneakers that I can hold and maybe increase in value over a couple years. Where would they start? I know that’s a two-part question. 


[Justin Truong]

I’ll answer the first question first. So, I think with us, we’re definitely expanding the fund. We’re going to take in more capital probably early next year. We’re filming this in December 2021, but I think, yeah, 2022, we’re definitely going to scale this fund up. And I think that’s the hard thing, I think with sneakers, and this is where it gets – to answer the second question. What makes it really difficult is that there’s a storage element, right. Which is why we offer cold storage to our resellers. Because if you think about gold, right. I always bring it back to gold. If you think about gold, when you’re investing gold, you’re not getting gold bullions sent to your house, right. Like that that’s, that’s just not feasible. But with sneakers, I think if you’re starting a small collection, let’s say, if you have like 10 grand, 20 grand, 50 grand, a hundred grand worth of sneakers, I think that’s still [00:33:15] is store them. And I would just look at – even look at places like Pushas or places like stock X and Goat and look at stuff that you think you could speculate on, where you think, okay, well, this is a shoe that’s going to – looks like it’s good. Looks like there’s low demand. You do a bit of research. And it’s low supply. You do a bit of research and there’s high demand. Generally speaking, it, it’s going go up, and you look at the price history of previous sneakers that are similar as well. You could probably extrapolate the trend. But I think if you’re going to do this it’s really hard. And this is why we’ve been so successful. It’s unique, the infrastructure. Like it’s not just something that you can just do without the cold storage, right. And this is what we’re trying to build out to help. Right. We want to build out a way for people to actually invest in sneakers that are actually touching them. Right. And that’s what our platforms kind of gearing towards to. So that you invest in sneakers, you buy sneakers, you send them straight to us, we cold storage for you. And then if you want to withdraw them, withdraw them, but you can build up a portfolio in sneakers through Pushas. And that’s something that we we’re really building towards. And it’s a problem that we find that a lot of our sneaker resellers have, and that’s why we’re addressing that problem. But I think I’ll be honest. I think if you’re just starting out, it’s actually really hard to do so without the infrastructure that Pushas provides.

 [Horacio Ruiz]

Makes total sense. I never equated it, but like I spoke to the CEO of Vinovest, right. Anthony Zhang. So, they invest in wine. And if I wanted to start investing wine, like I buy this wine and then where do I store it? It’s got to be the right temperature; it’s got to be touching the cork a certain way. My house isn’t built for that. Right. So, it’s same thing with sneakers. There’s a – you have to store them in the appropriate way. And they’re always – if they’re in your house, they’re always prone to damage – flood or whatever, my fire, and there goes your investment. Fascinating, man. I’m just wrapping my mind around that. Does anybody that you know of have a similar sneaker fund to that?

[Justin Truong]

Not that I know of. I know there’s private resellers who have kind of like done a sneaker fund for themselves, and they sell through us. It it’s usually maybe friends and family capital. I haven’t seen a fund like us where we have a couple of sophisticated wholesale investors that are on board.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. To kind of wrap it up. What is your favourite sneaker of all time that you’ve ever owned?

[Justin Truong]

Okay. So, there’s two answers there. I’m sorry to make this complicated, but there’s two answers. The one with the most hype and that I love the most in terms of like, man, this is a great sneaker would probably be my Jordan 1 Chicago’s. And I wear them a lot. I just love them. Right. Like they’re an iconic shoe. And I think they’re just, they’re timeless and I love them to death. But the shoe that I have the most sentimental value to is probably the Jordan 11 Space Jams. Because, as I mentioned earlier, I grew up with that movie that was kind of – we had the VHS tape and that was replayed, and it was just something that I always wanted. And once I got that sneaker, it was just like, wow, I was able to have this. And then actually there’s three. And then the one that I probably remember the most, like the memory that I guess the most like, kind of burnt in my psyche of the sneaker that I remember I’m getting is when Sandy bought me a pair of Ultra boost OGs, when the original Ultra boost’ came out, she bought me the pair. And I don’t know, there was just something special. And I think that shoe kicked off Pushas for me. Like, I think it was like a series of events that from that shoe got me into sneakers and starting Pushas and all that stuff. So, I think there’s three shoes that kind of come to mind. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Do you wear these? Or how do you manage that? These things they have utility, Like, are they too good to just leave on a shelf? Or do you take these out? 


[Justin Truong]

I wear them man. I wear all my sneakers. I don’t like to have like a collection sitting there. Like, I think that’s where the sneaker fund, like some of my money’s in – or most of my money is in the Pusha sneaker fund as well. And that’s where I invest and do all that stuff. But if I have a pair, that’s a personal pair, I’m wearing them man. Like that’s just how I am.

 
[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. I just think about you wearing the Jordan 1’s, and I’m like, wow, man. I mean, in Pristine condition, right, those things are worth a good amount of money. So, I don’t know if you ever get that, why are you wearing those? Why are you getting them dirty?


[Justin Truong]

I think it gives a character like; my Jordan 1 Chicago’s are starting to get really dirty. And I love that about the shoe. I think it looks really cool.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. Those, those are iconic shoes, man. Last question. Are you always wearing sneakers? I mean, I know this is a silly question, but like now that the sneaker has kind of evolved right into like a dress shoe, do you find yourself doing that? Like you got your nice suit, or you got your nice suit and tucked in shirt and then you’re wearing your sneakers out? Or are you still keeping it traditional? Are you still wearing those dress shoes?

[Justin Truong]

No, I’m wearing sneakers everywhere, man. They’re so comfy, like dress shoes hurt your feet. I just can’t do it. And so even man, even if I’m doing a formal meeting or I’m going to like a wedding or something, I’m still working my sneakers, man. That’s just how I am.

[Horacio Ruiz]

You’re rocking the sneakers. You’re rocking Pushas. Justin, listen, thank you so much for speaking to me on the podcast. I learned a lot. I’m sure the listeners are going to learn a lot. I’m really, really looking forward to finding out more about you guys, maybe in six months, seeing how your expansion to the US is going. And I wish you the best of luck and I hope that we can catch up at that point in time, maybe get an update and see how you guys are doing.

[Justin Truong]

No, it was my pleasure, man. 

 
[Horacio Ruiz]

Best of luck. Best of luck to you. Best of luck to Sandy your fiance and congratulations on that.

 
[Justin Truong]

Thank you so much for having me and yeah. Have a happy holiday as well.

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Author

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio is a veteran math teacher of the New York City public school system. Prior to teaching, he lived in New Orleans where he worked in sales for the New Orleans Hornets before joining The Institute for Sport and Social Justice to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He currently lives in Staten Island with his wife, Alicia, his three sons; Oliver, Henry, and Jacob, and their pitt-mi,x Tipitina. In 2019, Horacio published a biography, The White Knight: Calvin Patterson and the Integration of Florida State University Football.

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