I recently invested in a new kids shoe brand, Ten Little. They make healthy shoes that look and fit great, plus a data platform that leverages shoe sizes and growth curves to predict when its time for your kid to size up. They just launched last week (and announced a new $2.6M seed raise, led by NextView), so I thought it’d be fun to share some thoughts on why I’m so excited about this company.
First, some problems with kids shoes
If you’re not a parent, you’ve probably never thought about this before, but buying shoes for kids is really hard! Here’s why:
- Figuring out young kids’ shoe size is challenging. You can’t just have them try on a bunch of sizes and give you feedback (turns out young kids don’t have a lot of patience for this sort of thing and are also not great at giving detailed feedback).
- They also don’t tell you when they outgrow their shoes (and it’s hard to know just by feeling for their big toe) so you never know when to size up. So there’s a good chance your kid is often wearing shoes too small for them.
- Kids’ feet aren’t shaped like adults’ feet. They’re a little boxier and require support in different places. But most kids’ shoes aren’t designed for them – they’re just shrunken down adult shoes. So there’s a good chance your kid is often wearing shoes that don’t actually support their feet.
Fatma and Julie
When Ten Little co-founders Fatma Collins and Julie Rogers spoke to me about these problems, they instantly resonated. As a father to two little girls, my wife and I had both previously struggled over the shoe-buying problem. Figuring out sizes for our oldest daughter, Juliette, had been a total guessing game. And it was equally difficult to figure out when sizing up was appropriate (or even remember to do so).
What resonated even more was their extremely thoughtful approach to these issues:
Shoes designed specifically for kids’ feet, in collaboration with world class doctors (no more shrunken adult shoe issues).
Intelligent sizing mechanics, powered by sizing data for other brands’ shoes, in combination with a smartly designed “Fit Finder”.
A predictive data model that keeps track of your kid’s foot size against early childhood growth models and their ever-expanding dataset. This means they can predict when your kid will need to size up (with really high levels of accuracy). When this happens, they make it easy to instantly size up via SMS.
And of course, shoes that look great. Not only are they clean, stylish, and versatile right out of the box, but each pair comes with a set of fun high-quality, durable stickers that kids can use to customize each pair.
Turns out, this approach to the kids apparel shopping experience is not only thoughtful, but really unique. Kids obviously grow really quickly, which creates lots of opportunities to refine the data model and re-engage with customers. And leveraging predictive size modeling can be applied to not only kids’ shoes (a $10B industry in the US), but also nearly every type of kids’ clothing, too (a $69B industry in the US).
This opportunity, alongside Fatma and Julie’s creativity, product sensibility, and overall grit is what has me most excited for Ten Little’s launch. I’m looking forward to seeing Ten Little shoes all over my daughter’s favorite playground this summer!