THRONE (formerly known as InstaSneaks) is an online sneaker and streetwear marketplace app. The application comes from Emeka Anen, CEO of THRONE, who was recently featured in Black Enterprise‘s BE Modern Man program and here on Blavity. The objective for the application is simple — to provide a simple, safe and mobile-first solution for buying, selling and discovering rare sneakers. The landing page shows the feed where community members can showcase their sneakers, an explore page, a news feed and a feature for users to upload their own prized sneakers.
The app is well-designed with high-quality images, snappy performance, social-media sharing and secure payment options. The most impressive thing is the community interaction on the feed section where users (250,000 of them and growing) are actively admiring and bartering on sneakers. A great marketplace is nothing without an even better ecosystem supported by avid users, and the THRONE team appears to have tapped into this notion.
Anen spent his first year out of college in Shanghai, China and then worked for a management consulting company focused on the healthcare sector. After three years, he debated going to business school to advance his career, but he ultimately decided to pivot toward entrepreneurship. The initial idea was InstaSneaks. Anen admits it wasn’t great, (the app had a different design, moved slower and didn’t have as many features) but the community immediately attached to it and the platform experienced hyper growth with subsequent updates.
Now with THRONE, Anen and his team’s focus is singular — “building what would be dope for us”; “us” meaning the urban millennial community. The team has also expanded to doing editorial content focusing on lifestyle, technology, music and, of course, sneakers to further cater to the community. Anen envisions this effort will drive THRONE from being just a product to an ecosystem.
THRONE’s rapid success has opened a lot of doors for Anen and his team to deal with different accelerators, venture capitalists and investors. He credits his time in management consulting for enhancing his ability to talk to people at more senior levels (who might not otherwise get it), but to still be able to provide guidance and advice. Working with investors is “never as easy as it looks on tv,” he says, but fortunately he has been able to find great advocates within the VC community that are not necessarily sneakerheads, but understand the vision of what his team is building nonetheless. Anen is working with Troy Carter of Atom Factory through SMASHD labs accelerator on fulfilling that vision.