I Made 107 Three Pointers In A Row & It Inspired Me To Build A Company

Published: March 25th, 2022
Eric Porter
Founder, Stria Sport
Stria Sport
from Chicago, IL, USA
started November 2020
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Hello, my name is Eric Porter, and I am the founder of the athletic shoe brand, Stria Sport. We launched in the Fall of 2020 with our debut signature shoe, the 107 Series. The name of the 107 Series was inspired by a time when I made 107 consecutive three-pointers during a college workout. We sell performance footwear and apparel.

As a collegiate athlete, I was inspired to create a performance-based athletic shoe that was extremely comfortable, lightweight, and accessible to everyday consumers. Our team is made up of athletes, and our products are for everyday athletes. Whether you are a basketball player, volleyball player, tennis player, or engage in any sort of physical activity, our products are for you.

In our first year, our business has continued to grow as word spreads about our brand. We are continually adapting and implementing changes as we learn more about what our customers want.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

My backstory is pretty typical. I grew up playing sports, and my childhood revolved around whichever sport I was playing at that time. Basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf were my favorites. In all competitive and leisure sports, footwear is a crucial way to not only succeed but also to stand out. Selecting footwear for myself has always been an important part of my identity and brand.

Growing up, I developed a strong interest and passion for footwear and fashion, and entrepreneurship always intrigued me. From the time I was very young, my dad took me to sneaker conventions all around Chicago where we started our journey in buying and selling shoes. I started collecting shoes when I was 13. Thanks to this experience, I began to learn about different sneaker and lifestyle brands and started following what was happening in the industry.

Once I entered high school, basketball became my primary focus, and I played the sport on a year-round basis. I ended up playing at Loyola University Chicago and Lake Forest College. College is when I started to take my passion for designing shoes to the next level. Once I completed my senior season, the idea of Stria started to come together.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

The idea of creating my shoe was a dream I had since I was 13 years old. And if you told me back then it would happen, I’d think you were crazy. Throughout my basketball career, it was difficult to find a shoe that achieved the level of performance I aspired to find. This lacking is what truly led to the creation of Stria Sport. Our goal was to create a shoe that was extremely comfortable and light-weight, but most importantly, performed at an extremely high level. Having a sleek design and aesthetic was the vision we had for the shoe and our brand as well.

After my senior year of college, I began to seriously consider the idea of creating my shoe brand and thinking through how I could make it happen. I reached out to my current partners, and we began exchanging text messages with different shoes we liked and talking through how to incorporate all the important elements into our “dream shoe.”

We ended up connecting with a former Nike designer, Peter Backus. I had spoken to him about my vision, and we were on the same page from the beginning. We spent the next 6 months designing our debut shoe, “The 107 Series”. The best part about starting this business was that there were not any timetables. We had no deadlines, so we were able to take our time and zero in on our design and the materials we were going to use.

Once the design was complete, we were connected with a developer with a lot of industry experience. We spent the next year and a half working on samples and making sure our shoe was an as high performance as possible. We knew we only had one shot at establishing our reputation, especially as a new brand in a crowded market as a new brand. We ended up creating and refining 10 different samples until we were fully satisfied. Our wear-testing was completed by several college and professional athletes in Chicago to assure the quality was tested and approved.

When the shoe was complete and we had everything ready for our launch, COVID hit, which we obviously couldn’t have anticipated. The world shut down due to a pandemic, and it was a really scary time for everyone. So, we decided to delay our launch for a couple of months. Despite the questionable market, we ultimately decided to launch Stria Sport in 2020.

We used the pandemic to our marketing advantage, knowing that our target audience is active on social media. We knew our name would get around with people spending more time at home and online. We recently celebrated our first anniversary and are working on the next steps to keep the momentum going.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are profitable based on our Direct to Consumer business model. We are expanding to apparel and our current product lines and adding other distribution channels. Our short-term goals are to expand Stria Sport’s brand awareness and market reach. Our long-term goal will be to increase our portfolio of performance footwear and apparel and expand sizes to cater to female audiences.

It is important to listen to all ideas and suggestions, as factoring in others' experiences can be beneficial, however, in the end, you have to make logical decisions about what to implement based on what is best for you and your business.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I’m 25 years old and previously had no experience in the sneaker industry besides collecting shoes growing up. I have learned more in the last two years of business than I did in my entire lifetime, and I still have much to learn. We spent a significant amount of time up-front researching and learning best practices, but many things were simply learned through trial-and-error. We try our best to put ourselves in our customers' shoes, to better understand what the industry wants and needs.

When COVID hit and gyms were closed and sports were canceled, we had to get creative in how we reached our audience. Social media was a helpful tool to attract individual customers, but we also had to find a way to connect with coaches. An important part of our business model relies on establishing relationships with sports programs and having their players wear Stria gear. These partnerships rely on our ability to connect with coaches and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Other partnerships that have fueled our growth are the ones we have with some of the top sneaker reviewers in the country. We spoke to them about our brand, and, after wearing our shoes, they gave their audience their honest opinions. These reviewers all have massive followings on social media accounts, and their followers trust what the reviews say. Fortunately for us, we received very positive reviews for our shoe that led people to trust our brand, even though they have never even heard of it before.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Our website and eCommerce platform were built through Shopify. This platform allowed us to easily create a website, manage sales and inventory, and track analytics.

We have marketing campaigns run through our email marketing using MailChimp.

Canva assists us in creating branded content for social media channels.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I enjoy The Founder Hour, Boardroom: Out of the Office, and The Business of Hype. They have really interesting speakers who have founded businesses in similar industries that I can somewhat relate to. I like learning about the many business struggles and what led to their success. I try to relate the episode and topics to my own business to help keep our momentum and take us to the next level.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

The best advice I’ve received was to “just go for it.” The longer you wait and keep thinking of reasons why it won’t work, then you’ll never do it. I didn't want to have any regrets in the future and think, “what if.”

As an entrepreneur, I’ve found that experience is your best teacher. Testing out new marketing strategies and sales tactics is the only way to learn what works and what does not. Learning from mistakes and shortcomings is the only true way to grow and develop.

Once you start a business, many people will give you (sometimes unsolicited) advice on how to handle certain things. It is important to listen to all ideas and suggestions, as factoring in others' experiences can be beneficial, however, in the end, you have to make logical decisions about what to implement based on what is best for you and your business.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you want to learn more about Stria Sport or to browse our products, visit our website, Stria Sport. Follow our journey on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook under @StriaSport.