Kicks as Currency

The founders of Tradeblock were all sneakerheads and friends from their Houston high school. Darren Smith, Mbiyimoh Ghogomu and Tony Malveaux felt that the online sneaker community never reflected the passions and trading that were the core of the sneaker culture.  

There was a very large cash market at sites like StockX and GOAT, but online swapping, which normally occurred at conventions, had never caught on. The community needed a peer-to-peer network — built and run by sneakerheads but brought forward to the digital age. Still, the end state of product market fit was unknown.

Tradeblock founder, Mbiyimoh Ghogomu analyzes his latest pre-release build
Tradeblock founder, Mbiyimoh Ghogomu analyzes his latest pre-release build.

Today, Tradeblock is the world’s largest pure-play sneaker trading platform. How did Ten X Labs fit in?

We made time — The first thing Ten X Labs did for Tradeblock was create time and space for the Founders to focus on sneakerheads, and not investors, lawyers and accountants. We relieved the founders of a number of these back-office responsibilities and connected them with trusted partners instead. These were not big, complex things but the time saved was a big deal. Most early-stage companies run out of time.

We provided air cover — First-time Founders often feel like they need to know - and be addressing - every aspect of a business’s operations, especially when talking with seasoned investors. Ten X Labs helped Founders identify the things that matter now, and provided air cover to say “I don’t know, and we’re not working on that right now” when they were quizzed about things not currently relevant. Ten X believes most ideas aren’t bad, it’s the existence (or lack of) focused execution that is the difference between success and failure. We give air cover so that the Founders can focus, and execute.

This gave the Founders confidence By providing the time to work on the business, as opposed to the back office, and providing space to execute on what matters now, the Founders developed a confidence that sped their own leadership maturity, but the company’s as well.

“From the very beginning, Chip and Phil worked with us to figure out what was possible, as opposed to others who saw obstacles everywhere. This sped us up. Today, Tradeblock is offering a new and exciting approach to collecting, and our member growth and community engagement is off the charts.” Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, Tradeblock Founder & CEO

What was the outcome? When Ten X Labs tallied up the above, we observed that there was both an internal result and an external result. The internal result was creation of an execution oriented culture that would be sustainable and resourceful. The external result was that, to the extent that seed funds are the eventual customer of Ten X Labs, we had accelerated the company’s ability to show product market fit, and raise their Seed round growth capital more quickly, and at lower cost.


  • Company website — Tradeblock | Secure Sneaker Trades
  • CultureMap Houston — Clever Houston sneakerheads kick it with $8.9M in funding for innovative digital marketplace
  • AfroTech — Sneaker Trading App Tradeblock To Disrupt The $30B Sneaker Resale Category With The Intro Of Public Offers
  • Yahoo! Entertainment — How Tradeblock is Providing a Refreshing Way to Get Your Hands on Sneakers
  • Shoppe Black — Black Owned Sneaker Brands You Should Know
  • Footwear News — Inside Tradeblock’s Mission to Make Sneaker Trading More Accessible