- Foot Locker announced Thursday that it has taken a minority stake in Super Heroic, a children's athletics startup that makes footwear, clothing and accessories, according to a company press release.
- The athletics retailer invested $3 million in a Series Seed II investment for the younger company, bringing Super Heroic's total capital raised to $10 million since its founding in 2016, per the release. Foot Locker Inc. will also serve as a board advisor to Super Heroic, "partnering with the company on various growth initiatives from product to content."
- The startup was founded by Jason Mayden, current CEO, and Harshal Sisodia, Chief Marketing Officer, who both previously held footwear roles at Nike, according to their LinkedIn pages. Mayden's last role at Nike, which ended June 2014, was senior global director for the Jordan brand, while Sisodia's final role at the athletics giant was global digital brand director, until his departure in November 2016.
Foot Locker's investment not only provides some solid funding for a startup looking to find its way in the children's footwear space, but also breathes new life into its own Kids Foot Locker branch, which will be the first brick-and-mortar retailer to sell Super Heroic products in the U.S., according to the company.
Super Heroic's shoes were "specifically created for children," and feature bright colors and easily adjustable straps in lieu of laces. The company's mission is based on the idea that "play is good for the soul," per the company website, and their shoes are designed with children's play in mind.
Foot Locker is far from the first to invest in an innovative, younger company with the hopes of reaping benefits from it. Macy's invested in retail store concept b8ta last year, Walmart has flat-out acquired several younger companies to grasp category expertise, and Target has several programs aimed at giving startups a leg up, including one aimed at Gen Z entrepreneurs, a beauty-focused accelerator and Target + Techstars, the last of which often leads to partnerships with Target.
Fresh ideas from Super Heroic could help the company with its kids unit the way other partnerships have helped its flagship. The company has experimented with different retail formats, including a pop-up with Nike focused around the NBA. Foot Locker is competing in a difficult space, albeit helped by a widespread obsession with sneakers as everyday footwear. The retailer struggled slightly to produce positive earnings results last year, but reported better comps later in the year.
"With its robust talent and cutting-edge innovation, we look forward to working with Jason and the entire Super Heroic team to offer an exciting, fresh product to our customers, while realizing additional growth opportunities for the future," Richard Johnson, Foot Locker's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Giving kids the tools to be active is in our DNA. Having our two companies come together to empower kids to play has the potential to be game changing."