Portland Trail Blazers basketball player Damian Lillard is already successful on the basketball court. Like many of his peers, there is also a goal to succeed in business. In a recent Forbes interview, the talented point guard expressed to the media outlet why he decided to invest in a Hong Kong and New York City-based e-commerce company, Kicks Crew.
The seven-time NBA All-Star stated that a pair of “fake” sneakers he purchased online prompted his venture into investing with a company that he knows he can trust.
“I’ve had my own shopping experiences with shoes, and just knowing how it goes, knowing how often things go wrong…it’s not all about just trying to ‘make the dollar,’” Lillard said. “It’s about the customer service, where integrity is involved, and character is involved.”
Kicks Crew is the first startup investment in Lilliard’s portfolio. The e-commerce company has headquarters in New York City and overseas in Hong Kong. Last November, he was involved in the company’s $6.2 million Series A funding round. Along with Gobi Partners, Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li’s Pacific Century Group and Complex China, the total from that round brought the total amount of funding up to $7.2 million.
Although Kicks Crew was founded in 2008, the company shifted towards e-commerce when the coronavirus pandemic started. On the website, there are many brands to choose from including the likes of sportswear giants, Nike and Adidas as well as luxury brands like Fendi and Louis Vuitton.
Through his investment with Kicks Crew, Lilliard was able to connect “on a real level” with people in Asia. Earlier this month, Lillard coached high school students in gyms across lower-income areas of Kowloon, being able to interact with the community. He wants a genuine connection with the people.
“I want people to feel a part of something, and I want them to feel connected to something that’s not just transactional,” he says.
“My career was built on forming that community of people that appreciate and respect what I do and how I do it,” Lillard says. “My role [at Kicks Crew] is being a part of creating that type of community, and then just growing it from there.”
Lillard also stated that through his partnership with Kicks Crew, he will remain in the game to “steer the potential of the company.” He wants to ensure that, based on his prior experience, the products coming from Kicks Crew are authentic to the consumers, especially in a market that has a major problem with counterfeit consumer goods.
With the NBA season being off for the summer, according to Sports Illustrated, Lilliard is rumored in trade talks but he has expressed that he wants to stay in Portland.
Damian Lillard Explains Why First Startup Investment is in Sneaker E-Commerce Company