IT whiz uses his tech expertise to launch successful fashion business with school friends

  • Written by Sarah Fleming

Alex Hsu grew tired of friends and family asking him to buy shoes for them as he travelled frequently between the United States and Australia. He saw that popular shoes could be purchased overseas for a fraction of the cost than at home, and a business idea came to him. Two years later, he is the founder of successful e-retailer The Next Pair, which sells globally recognised brands such as Nike, Asics, Converse, Vans and many more.

“I already had an IT business that I owned with a group of school friends,” says Hsu. “When I was travelling, I had a lightbulb moment. Why not create an online shoe website that mirrored the IT business in terms of structure and model? I realised we could leverage our existing contacts and experience to build a business selling a commodity that is highly sought after and importantly that I had a real passion for.”

The website was launched in 2014 and has grown significantly since its inception. In the current financial year, Hsu is expecting at least a 75% growth in revenue as a minimum. The site has increased traffic by 350% as compared to this time last year, on a daily basis. The team have done this without spending big dollars on marketing. “We invested in one major campaign which was television ads but the rest has been organic, digital pay per click, social media and public relations,” says Hsu.

Founder Alex Hsu says, “Our buyers live and breathe shoes. They are the ones that are doing the groundwork and finding the highest-quality shoes that are fashion-forward, on trend and appealing to the Australian market. Quality and affordability are the two most important factors for us. It didn’t make sense to us that Australians were paying almost double for the same shoes that are readily available overseas. Our mission is to sell premium brands at extremely fair prices, opening this market up for everyone,” says Hsu. “Essentially, we only operate online which means we don’t waste a cent on expensive retail stores. On top of that, our buyers are absolute shoe fiends and are committed to sourcing the best-priced products.”

The core team of four consists of Hsu, Andrew Wong, Kristopher Hunt and Ryan McClelland. All four lived within a stone’s throw of each other growing up and have been best friends since primary school. “It’s every kid’s dream to work with their best mates and we feel pretty lucky that we’ve actually made that dream a reality – and that we all still like each other having done so!” says Hsu.

Julia Nati, from Nest Marketing Management assists the team with their marketing decisions based on close to a decade of experience in footwear. Nati worked as part of the ECCO Shoes Australia team for over eight years.

The Next Pair’s vision is to become the online destination for fitness and lifestyle footwear providing bold, individual styles for the urban landscape. Hsu and the team have big plans for the future. “We want to create a more interactive site allowing input and feedback, so we can rank and source shoes people want based on feedback. We’re also planning to expand into selling the entire lifestyle ‘package’ including socks, headphones, shorts, jeans and more – as long as they come in a pair, we’ll sell them!”

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