Safesize: The company changing the way we buy shoes
By Endeavor Greece Nov 1, 2021
“We are a digital Al Bundy,” Angelos Stavrakis points out, founder and CEO of Safesize, opting for this humourous way to describe his company by making specific reference to the most famous character of the legendary sitcom “Married with Children.” In reality, this startup helps consumers find the model and shoe size that best fits their foot, either they shop online or go to a physical store. The company’s vision is to change the way customers buy shoes.
Angelos Stavrakis was born in Athens and studied business research and marketing at the Athens University of Economics and Business, before completing his MBA courses at Bocconi in Milan and at Kellogg in Chicago.
As he told Outliers, Endeavor Greece’s podcast series, whose media partner is MoneyReview, he launched his career at the consulting industry and moved on to the retail sector when he accepted the offer to become the marketing director of Intersport and returned to Greece. This is where he conceived and put to the test the idea that would later evolve into Safesize, a company whose clientele now includes the largest department stores that sell shoes all over the world.
Safesize had developed a virtual fitting technology based on three stages:
Shoe scanning (every year it scans approximately 1.5 million shoes worldwide)
A 3D visualization of the shoppers’ foot (either through special foot scan machines placed in offline retail stores or by the use of a mobile phone)
An AI algorithm
“We identified a very big market niche, which had not been targeted yet,” Mr. Stavrakis points out and adds that the global footwear market is estimated at $350 billion, while the market segment that Safesize aspires to address is estimated at $1-3 billion for the next four years. Since its inception, Safesize has already served 16 million customers, and this year alone it is estimated that 3.5 to 4 million shoppers are going to use its service. The company, which is the only one to offer this unique service worldwide, receives percentages from the sales retailers perform with its help and makes profits from the sales of the hardware the company has developed.
Safesize aims for a future in which the consumer will have the digital profile of their own feet, they will be able to design the shoes that fully meet their personal needs and have the features they wish, achieving personalization through the company’s algorithms.
Safesize has raised 26€ million from investors including Convent Capital and 3TS Capital Partners, as well as from customers, who chose to enter its final financing round because they consider technology to be a very significant part of their strategy.
Expanding in Athens
The headquarters of the company being in Amsterdam, Safesize has an office in Ljubljana, which is responsible for the development, and another one in Shanghai that serves the Asian market. It has recently opened an office in Athens aiming at creating a research and development team.
“Many people in Greece are interested in quality. We have tried several times to cooperate with Greek engineers and the outcome has always been favorable,” Mr. Stavrakis says. At present, the Safesize team in Greece amounts to 13 individuals, but its aim is to grow fivefold its size.
“The situation in Greece has changed. Our country offers a number of incentives on a professional and personal level to those who wish to bring their company to Greece and create job opportunities,” the founder of the startup points out, having moved from the Netherlands back to Greece with his family. He even says that he is impressed by the extent of the digital transformation and estimates that “it makes sense for companies to come back to Greece.” After all, Greece is an up-and-coming investment destination, which is obvious from the fact that Convent Capital has 20 Greeks in its investment portfolio and is extremely interested in new opportunities in Greece, as Mr. Stavrakis discloses.
Safesize’s recipe is “to provide a real solution to a real problem with a dedicated and capable team,” its founder says and he adds that Safesize is a “people first company.” “To us what comes first is the well-being and comfort of our employees,” he concludes.