How Nazr El-Scari opened up a market for affordable and rare kicks


SSneakers are a distinct statement of individuality, said Nazr El-Scari, lacing his company’s sole purpose: to put dream shoes within reach.

“Growing up, I remember the excitement of opening a new pair of shoes. My older brother and his friends always had the best sneakers you couldn’t find anywhere in Kansas City; it gave them this strong feeling of individuality. I wanted to build a platform that would allow others to discover their identity,” said El-Scari, Founder and CEO of Sneakerhead heaven.

More than just a stockist, A Sneakerhead’s Paradise is a demand-driven online platform that aims to sell highly sought-after sneakers at an affordable price. All sneakers are sourced from A Sneakerhead’s Paradise — either directly from retailers or established partners, and go through a verification process to ensure they are authentic, El-Scari said.

“We have our own identification systems, and the next level is that we are working on some processes to use machine learning [to authenticate sneakers],” he noted. “With counterfeits becoming more and more popular, it is crucial that we have specialists who know what to look for.”

Users pay for a subscription based on their sneaker budget and how many sneakers they want to reserve, El-Scari said.

“When a user arrives and requests a sneaker, it will be placed in their ‘stash’ once we find it for them,” he explained. “They then have up to 30 days to purchase it, as long as they have an active subscription. We did this so we could guarantee them the best price, and they wouldn’t have to worry about it selling or price increase for 30 days.

For users who request sneakers outside of their budget, the A Sneakerhead Paradise team will provide the customer with other options of a similar style – or even custom shoes to give them the desired colorway and look, said El-Scari.

“Our whole platform is really geared towards an experience that lets people explore their individuality through sneakers and fashion,” he shared. “If something isn’t in their budget, we want to give them options they didn’t even know they had. We like to bring them new styles and different brands that could help them express who they are.

Click on here to discover A Sneakerhead’s Paradise and their different subscription levels.

Sneakers arranged in a display stand for The Shoe Plug, an early incarnation of A Sneakerhead’s Paradise; photo courtesy of Nazr El-Scari

Nazr El-Scari, paradise for sneakerheads

The idea for A Sneakerhead’s Paradise came to El-Scari during his senior year at Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, he recalls. El-Scari had just completed an internship as an app developer, sparking his interest in entrepreneurship.

“Because I had earned my own money through this internship, I was able to really get into footwear,” El-Scari said. “I built my collection from five pairs at the time to 55 pairs in a single summer, which led to me selling out. … I went to the gym with a pair of shoes and a guy tried I was so confused because I had worn them for weeks but he said he couldn’t find them anywhere so I did some research and realized there was no no trusted place to sell and buy genuine shoes.

A Sneakerhead’s Paradise – originally named The Shoe Plug – launched in 2016. But at age 17, trying to run his first startup while competing with two major sneaker retailers, El-Scari decided to temporarily step away from the company.

“I went to Lehigh University specifically for their entrepreneurship program,” he said. “…The courses reminded me that entrepreneurship is about figuring out what works and what doesn’t and pivoting. So I changed my name to A Sneakerhead’s Paradise and started to feel more comfortable leading a team. This is really where things started to change. »

Nazr El-Scari, A Sneakerhead’s Paradise, pictured during a pitch at Lehigh University

El-Scari graduated in 2021 Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. While in college, he began applying to incubators and entering pitch competitions – recently winning Rocket Trust Bank’s Small business, big dreams competition. He had grown his team to 10 people, divided into marketing, technology and sneaker acquisition departments.

Nazr El-Scari, paradise for sneakerheads

“I was extremely transparent with my team, even before they were on my team,” El-Scari said. “Present the financial situation and what we need to do immediately with the platform. It’s something that excites me. It brings me a lot of joy to be an entrepreneur and to build my team.

The A Sneakerhead’s Paradise team is fully remote, with headquarters now based in Boston. El-Scari recently took the opportunity to leave Kansas City to utilize a bigger shoe market and step out of his comfort zone personally, he said.

“I love Kansas City and grew up with a lot of family nearby, but I really wanted to push myself so I could grow as an individual, a founder, and an adult,” El-Scari explained. “I think having this safety nest nearby would have saved me the risks I had to take last year. … My goal is to settle here [in Boston], but bring opportunities back to Kansas City. The city still has my heart and they are my people.

Over the next year, El-Scari aims to transfer A Sneakerhead’s Paradise from a website to a mobile app, he said. His other major goal is to start hosting events across the United States to grow his platform, as well as the community of sneaker fanatics, he continued.

“We are currently thinking about the setup and potential partners,” El-Scari teased. “We want a different experience than what people traditionally have at events. I think our remote team is an advantage in that we can have a bigger national presence and form a sneaker community across the country.

This story is possible thanks to the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundationa private, nonpartisan foundation that works with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create unusual solutions and empower people to shape their future and succeed.

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