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Powered by Battery  |  February 1, 2021
More than Sneakers: Lessons From StockX in Empathy, Communications and Hypergrowth During a Pandemic

This season of the Powered by Battery podcast features portfolio executives representing companies from various geographies and technology sectors. The views expressed here are solely those of podcast guests, not Battery. If you’re interested in learning more about these companies, or others in the Battery portfolio, you can access more information here.

Figuring out how to rapidly scale a novel type of e-commerce business is never easy—but try doing it during an unprecedented global pandemic.

Just ask Scott Cutler, the CEO of online marketplace StockX*. Cutler—whose Detroit company started off selling high-demand sneakers but has since diversified into areas ranging from streetwear to watches to electronics—has overseen seen brisk growth at StockX over the last year and raised significant capital from investors.

But Cutler, a veteran of the New York Stock Exchange as well as consumer-tech companies like eBay, has had to do it differently this time. In this podcast with StockX board member and Battery General Partner Roger Lee, Cutler discusses StockX’s business model as well as his evolving leadership style over the last year. Notably, his approach has included focusing more on internal communications; showing more empathy with his executive team and employees; and planning ahead for pandemic-related, market disruptions that could impact StockX’s business. Have a listen.

Powered by Battery · More than Sneakers: Lessons From StockX in Empathy, Communications and Hypergrowth During a Pandemic

Key Takeaways:

  • It is possible to be almost “genetically engineered” to run a certain company. OK, these are the words of board member Roger Lee. But he’s only half-joking. Sometimes job opportunities present themselves that do seem perfectly suited to someone’s specific background, and it’s often wise to pursue them pro-actively. Cutler says that when he saw the first-ever press release issued by StockX several years ago–when he was not involved with the company–he noticed it said the firm was building a “Stock Market of Things” based on the principles of the New York Stock Exchange, StubHub and eBay. “To me, it was a call to action,” Cutler recalls, as he’d done stints at all three organizations. He reached out to company co-founder Josh Luber immediately and became an adviser to him.
  • Trust is a critical, but hard-to-crack element of an online marketplace. Marketplace founders, take note: It’s extremely difficult, but also very beneficial, to cultivate trust in your platform. This increases customer satisfaction and, in turn, can create a positive feedback loop that leads to more sales. StockX’s focus on independently authenticating all the goods it sells on its platform, though a network of global authentication centers (all of which have been operational throughout the pandemic), has helped it build brand and boost revenue. Due to the anonymous nature of the live market and its authentication process, the company does not accept returns from customers, which increases goodwill among sellers on the platform and decreases friction for them, making them incentivized to do more business with StockX.
  • Business is personal, and the pandemic has reinforced this. Remote work, as well as the broader health, political and social crises that marked 2020, forced Cutler to develop a more empathetic leadership style. He says he started kicking off his team-leadership meetings with a “personal check-in”, allowing executives to talk about things they were experiencing in their personal lives, whether it was a family member ill with Covid-19, the birth of a baby or political or social challenges. “It was a way to connect when weren’t together physically,” Cutler explained. He says the shift actually allowed his team to operate more efficiently.
  • Communication is key. During the pandemic, StockX has doubled down on internal communications, Cutler said. This has included holding events like weekly town halls with all employees as well as new business-continuity and contingency planning. StockX tried to think about improving communications to all the business’s stakeholders, both internal and external, as a way toward improving productivity and results.

This material is provided for informational purposes, and it is not, and may not be relied on in any manner as, legal, tax or investment advice or as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any fund or investment vehicle managed by Battery Ventures or any other Battery entity. 

The information and data are as of the publication date unless otherwise noted.

Content obtained from third-party sources, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified as to its accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Battery Ventures has no obligation to update, modify or amend the content of this post nor notify its readers in the event that any information, opinion, projection, forecast or estimate included, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate.

The information above may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events or expectations. Predictions, opinions and other information discussed in this video are subject to change continually and without notice of any kind and may no longer be true after the date indicated. Battery Ventures assumes no duty to and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements.

*Denotes a Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments, please click here.

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