AliveShoes makes it
easy to design and sell shoes online. Individuals can create a shop
and build a shoe brand, while AliveShoes takes care of the
payments, production and shipping. The company was founded by Luca
Botticelli, who grew up in a shoe-making family and has spent 17
years working in both digital development and the shoe industry.
He’s teamed up with software engineer Marco Ferroni and designer
Michele Torresi. All three come from a region in Italy called Le
Marche which is known as “The Shoe Valley”, where all of the major
brands including Prada and Tod’s design and manufacture shoes.
Founders: Marco Ferroni, Luca Botticelli,
Launch: June 2013
Funding: $1m from three angel investors
What problem do you solve?
We make it easy for anyone to express themselves through a shoe
brand. We are giving people the opportunity to access one of the
strongest forms of media out there: fashion.
Creating a brand and a product from scratch is very expensive,
hard and time consuming. We are bringing down all the barriers and
letting designers and creative people start a shoe line in minutes,
at almost zero cost.
How do you make money?
We make money on the e-commerce sales made through the platform
and by offering upgrades to designers.
Where did you get the idea for the
I come from one of the oldest shoe-making family in Italy. Since
when I was a child, I was involved in the shoe in: design process,
development process, production, promotion and sales. Together with
my co-founders we found a smart way to digitalise, automatise and
open up the industry.
What’s the biggest misconception about your
We are not a shoe customisation company, we don’t let a customer
create a single pair of shoes for themselves (like NikeID), we’d
rather let people express themselves, create a brand and sell their
Can you express in some tangible terms how the business
We are currently in our last closed beta, in one year we ramped up
from 100 designers to 25,000. Plus, we shipped 2500+ pairs of shoes
with only 2.5 percent returns.
What has been the most challenging time for the
Creating and launching the first beta product.
How did you overcome that?
We were on an accelerator programme (Startupbootcamp Amsterdam).
That experience created some kind of magic, determination and focus
for us. You need to be a superhero to do great stuff in tech. We
had to manage product dev, design, shoes production, community
management and fund raising. With just the five of us, between
Holland and Italy.
Do you have any advice for dealing with potential
Show traction, then be aggressive. Find the ones that understand
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given
Don’t say. Just do.
Which business person do you most admire and
Elon Musk for his strong vision of “going out”.
What is your biggest barrier to future
Hacking an entire industry like “fashion” means some people are
not going to like it a lot.
Do you think your business is a contender for Startup of the
Week? Email Liat Clark on firstname.lastname@example.org