Saint-Etienne tennis fans will soon have the Holy Grail at their fingertips

Startup Graal Spotter, created by Forézien Enzo Soulier, sells rare “sneakers”. Until then exclusively in e-commerce, the company feels that the vault is strong enough to settle in the city center of Saint-Etienne and open a showroom there. For neophytes, a sneaker is not a chocolate bar, but a shoe of sports origin, dedicated to other uses, some of which are limited edition models that are fashion accessories that collectors buy at exorbitant prices…

In July, startup Graal Spotter is expected to open its showroom in the city center of Saint-Etienne. ©Grail Spotter

With such a name, we cannot fail to state that the activity was predestined for him. Enzo Soulier, who will only be 22, anyway, put his foot down by jumping into entrepreneurship too early. His startup, he officially created it on the 1ster June 2021. But he had been working on it since his return to school in 2020 with an “information technology and internet facilitator” license at the IUT de Saint-Etienne. “Before that, I was already at IUT, but at Roanne in marketing technique. I’ve always been a geek, social networks, I touch everything on the web with this idea of ​​having my own business quickly. However, it was my studies at IUT that guided me towards digital marketing »says Enzo Soulier, the creator of Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert.

However, it is in Sury-le-Comtal, in the house where his parents now live, that his company is currently based. Here is, once again, a requested parental garage – for the preparation of orders in this case – within the scope of the launch of a successful startup. Before that, Enzo Soulier had tried the failure, that of his clothing brand – sold in drop shipping (without stocks) – Target Clothing, launched then in his teens via Instagram. “I developed my community on Instagram, as an influencer and even signed a collaboration with JD Sports and Brands. A good experience that led me to create Target. But that didn’t work. »

Sneakers can exceed €20,000!

Enzo Soulier is a sneaker collector. ©Grail Spotter

But as one can always learn from his failures and Enzo Soulier still has his whole life ahead of him, another idea came quickly to him when he made the connection with his passion for “tennis”. Originally, sneakers were pairs of shoes for sports use, but they ended up being diverted to everyday city use and later 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 interests to organize the rarity of certain models that are voluntarily delivered 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 speaks to the sensitivity of some, for them they are sneakers with particular design and characteristics. I fell for that when I was 16. You should know that it’s an entire environment with your codes, your lexical fieldexplains Enzo Soulier, who owns a personal collection of 200 shoes, of which only 20 are regularly loaned by his feet. You will never find this type of shoe at major retailers like GO sport, Intersport or Decathlon. More among experts, Snipes in the lead, even though JD Sports, Courir or Foot Locker followed as well. But a delivery to them remains an event: they are stolen very quickly. »

An NFT-like authentication system

To distinguish itself from the competition, Graal Spotter relies on blockchain authentication. ©Grail Spotter

The most passionate logic of constantly pushing to buy and then resell models with the aim of acquiring more popular ones. Some have made it a profession. Opportunities to acquire renowned sneakers in stores being rare outside Paris, Lyon and sometimes some big cities, Enzo Soulier, he launched with a friend a specific group in the Saint-Etienne conurbation on Instagram. It had 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. “With my partner, we quickly diverged and I bought his shares. Now I’m alone in charge of the company, but in January I managed to recruit a work-study student and an intern. Of course, we are not the first in this field and there are, in fact, a dozen solid competitors in France. »

So, to differentiate itself, Graal Spotter used the online authentication system of the NFT product that blockchain (information transmission technology) can offer by offering its buyers the application of a Swiss start-up, CollectID. “The operation is quite simple: we provide with all our products a zip-tie tie with NFC technology implanted in it. We previously configured this zipper, which we attach to the eyelet of the pair of sneakers. Once configured, the shoes now have a unique identifier (identification token) that takes place on the blockchain powered by CollectID. The user thus has a 100% guarantee that his pair has been authenticated by us. »

Your sneaker store should open in July

2,500 templates are available on the website. ©Grail Spotter

Graal Spotter has sold 600 pairs since opening the site, which offers no less than 2,500 models (each with different sizes depending on stock) for iconic brands: Nike (including Air Jordans), Adidas (including Kanye West’s Yeezy), but also Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Converse and New Balance, not to mention the “exclusive collaborations”. On the website that accompanies their descriptions with files that testify to a real effort of “storytelling” specific to the universe of fans, also some models reach several thousand euros, even if prices start for others in a few tens . “We don’t argue with brands, but with thousands of individuals, resale professionals whose seriousness and absence of fakes we guarantee”says Enzo Soulier.

With a first year and a half that should result in €400,000 in turnover, the young entrepreneur wants to move on to a new phase of his business. A 40 m2 showroom will open – signing is imminent – ​​in a very busy area of ​​the center of Saint-Etienne, normally in July.two for rent to which their offices will be attached. “To exchange between enthusiasts, it is better to have a physical anchor. Also reach a clientele, mainly parents or grandparents of teenagers, who are still reluctant to e-commerce. And so, I’m glad 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 points to a turnover of 3 to 4 M€ from 2023 and about ten employees from the beginning of next year. So ended the parents’ garage: all these beautiful people would probably have stepped on each other’s toes.

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