088: How to choose the right niche for your membership – with Dejan Pralica

Dejan Pralica is the co-founder of SoleSavy, an exclusive sneakerhead membership community. In this episode, he joins Ward to discuss how to evaluate your passions to help you choose the right membership niche.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any errors 🙂

Ward Sandler: Welcome everyone today. I’ll be talking to Dejan Pralica. Dejan is the co-founder of SoleSavy, an exclusive membership community that helps its members to find other true sneakerheads, collectors, and enthusiasts providing them with the right tools and resources to purchase the products they want for retail. 

Dejan, welcome to The Membership Maker podcast

Dejan Pralica: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Ward Sandler: Great membership businesses thrive when they cater to a specific audience. You run quite a niche membership community, how did you figure out your niche?

Dejan Pralica: Just comes from a personal passion of mine, really. I love sneakers. I love the culture there with it. I was frustrated by the current landscape and my primary goal was how do I bring the community, the culture together through community? Because I wanted to engage with other people like myself and I found out was dissipating online through Twitter, through Instagram. It wasn’t, it wasn’t the same anymore. Aand I just loved it. I knew there was a hole that needed to be filled in this massive market where everyone was in my opinion, was thinking about it the wrong way. Sneakers is a hundred billion dollar market. Resale is a 60, sorry, $30 billion market globally. It’s massive, but no one was thinking about the consumer and I was the consumer and I was thinking, what the hell do I do? I’m frustrated this isn’t fun. Where am I? Where are other sneakerheads? Who can I talk to? And I just dialed into my experiences and frustrations and my passions to create that community and that platform for us.

Ward Sandler: So kind of like an aside question, obviously, since this is a huge community in general, not just yours, just in general around sneakers. And obviously there’s social media, like Instagram, and there’s obviously influencers out there who are sneakerheads who are posting about this, and people are commenting on it. What about that did you see? Okay, that’s fine. That’s a place to talk about sneakers for sure. But what was missing and exactly that you were feeling something was missing? 

Dejan Pralica: So a lot of the industry, not a lot of initiatives, a lot of the innovation in the space was focused around the secondary sales and the resell. So the concept of maybe more relatable PlayStation vibes were very difficult to get over the holiday and people were selling them for a large profit that’s the sneaker industry, specifically last five years has gotten out of control. So the average person who wants to buy a shoe for $200 is basically just being left out in the wild to spend three, four or $500 to buy it because I mean, all the innovation was coming from, how can I charge this person more for the shoe they want, versus how do I enable this person to buy it for the lowest possible price? And that’s the gap I was trying to fill, right? There was nothing in between. It was either if you don’t get it from Nike, you got to get it from Starbucks and I wanted to eliminate stock X from that and give people no reason to go to secondary marketplaces, to buy and pay those premiums because they could get it from us directly.

Ward Sandler: It it makes sense to follow a niche that you already are involved in already as opposed to any new niche, right? Like, Oh, you’re going to be a yoga teacher. If you don’t do yoga or like that doesn’t make much sense to say ‘Oh, but I think yoga is going to be popular’. So I’m the credit business around that. Like that doesn’t make sense, right. Let’s stick to what, you know, even then it’s difficult, but at least you’re eliminating some of the unknown variables. And I also liked that you’re not just targeting folks who are, you know, kind of into sneakers. You’re trying to target the folks who are like really into sneakers, right. So like trying to though, I don’t know what you would call that. It’s not like experts or professionals, but like people that. , like, this is like a yeah. 

Dejan Pralica: And you know, the term that gets thrown around a lot is sneakerheads, sneaker, enthusiasts, collectors, whatever you would want to call them. Our approach has been that. It’s a hundred billion dollar market. I don’t have to go for the hundred billion dollar market right now. Why not focus on the two, three, four, $5 billion aspect of that? That is super-focused spending the most money, the most engaged, acquire them, build an audience and a product around them, and then when we’re ready, we scale and build outwards.

We then go attract the father with two kids who used to be a sneakerhead, but wants to be involved in the culture for $7 a month. You know, we find our scale and, explore the rest of the market, but go to the people who are going to be the most engaged, who will give us the best feedback, that in my opinion is the same model that the brands follow. Nike, Adidas, New Balance. They have these sneaker releases that are limited and some that are not, but they use it as a barometer test. What is the rest of the world going to want? Because these super passionate people are going for this. So if we see that this can resonate with them, that will follow into culture, influencers into movies, and then into mainstream.

And we can leverage that to sell product. That is definitely the way to think about it. And that’s how we approach building the business and building our audience. 

Ward Sandler: Yeah, I love that. It’s really smart. Just like dive right into the center, like the core of the niche, like, cause that is where all the energy is going to be and then expand out as needed. Because if you start too wide, you’re not going to resonate with folks is a lot harder. You’re going to, you’re going to get, you know, people that are like. Half industry, head asking questions, maybe being cheap, maybe canceling. And you’re going to kind of flounder a little bit with the business, but if you go to the folks where it’s like, these are the people that care the most about this thing, if you can’t get them to sign up for your service, you got a fundamental issue, and it also is a way to test is this business even makes sense, right? 

Dejan Pralica: Exactly. Instead of trying to cast a giant net for product market fit and trying to do a hundred things to a piece, to a hundred different user profiles. Find the best ones who can give you the highest revenue rper user, and then test, test, test, iterate, find the perfect product for them, and then pull pieces out of that, to see where it fits in with the rest of the market and different types of users, because they’ll just be pulling yourselves at too many different places and you won’t build a great product. It’ll be too generalized. 

Ward Sandler: Yeah. And I think it’s one of those counter-intuitive things, again, especially if you’re a newer business owner where it’s like, no, I don’t want to say no to anybody. I want everyone to come and sign up. Why would I make it exclusive or make it so that it doesn’t appeal to everybody?

And it’s the counterintuitive side of that is like, you want that in the beginning. You can’t do everything all at once. You can’t do the wide net. It’s much harder. Just pick that core in the beginning, 

Dejan Pralica: Especially as a bootstrap company, you know, it’s what we did, what you guys have done. What bootstrap founders do is the opposite of Quibi, right? Quibi took billions of dollars and was like, here you go, world. We have the perfect product, but didn’t take any time to actually get to know their audience and made assumptions based off of that. So, you know, and this a hundred billion, a hundred million dollar company, right within the VC industry and all that stuff.

But it’s just like, if you can do one thing really well and monetize that, you’ll have a rock solid foundation, but gives you the, the opportunity to then expand away from there without losing your base and growing the company. And that’s been very valuable to me through everything that we’ve been planning and doing.

Ward Sandler: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Dejan, we really appreciate it. Would you like to share any resources or recommendations for folks trying to learn more about SoleSavvy? 

Dejan Pralica: Yeah, I mean, please check us out on solesavvy.com, it’s spelled wrong on purpose because when we did this, you couldn’t get the two of these in the domain name and why not? So check this out! Solesavy.com, same thing on social, on Instagram and Twitter. If you’re a SneakerHead casual or experienced, definitely give us a look.

Ward Sandler: Thanks, Dejan.