Published: June 5, 2024 By

Herzberger and Kue on stage at Shark Tank

Leeds alumnus Marc Herzberger (left) and business partner Cheng Kue wowed Shark Tank's investor panel with their “SLYDR” shoes.

A Leeds alumnus’ customized shoe company is gaining traction, thanks in part to his recent appearance on the TV show “Shark Tank.”

Marc Herzberger, a 2012 Leeds graduate with degrees in accounting and Chinese, and his business partner, Cheng Kue, pitched Shark Tank’s panel of venture capitalists on the show’s April 19 episode—touting the Hype Company and their custom and licensed slide-on shoes.

The pair landed a deal with investor Barbara Corcoran for $100,000 in cash and $250,000 as a line of credit for 25% equity in the company.

“It was a great experience that cast us into a national spotlight,” said Herzberger.

He’s no stranger to the footwear industry. Before he joined The Hype Company in 2022, Herzberger worked for Crocs for a combined 10 years at the company’s Broomfield, Colorado, headquarters as well as at its European headquarters in Amsterdam and Asian headquarters in Singapore, focusing on finance and supply chain analysis. Kue, who has a degree in industrial design from Georgia Institute of Technology, worked with Herzberger at Crocs.

The Hype Company makes two types of slide-on shoes. The original “SLYDR” features college logos, which it licenses primarily through the Collegiate Licensing Company. The SLYDR Pro, which has become the team’s focus for future growth, has customizable, interchangeable straps.

“Collegiate was a nice place to start the brand since it’s easily recognizable to anyone at least who has an affiliation with that brand,” Herzberger said. “Colleges will always be part of the brand, but now the business is shifting away to focus on people’s passions, whatever they may be.”

On their “Shark Tank” presentation, Herzberger and Kue said they felt fan gear had grown stale with many companies selling the same types of products, so they created slides intended to be “fan forward” rather than “brand forward,” Herzberger said.

Keu and Herzberger win at Shark Tank“A lot of people were asking, ‘Can I get my high school sports team logo (on the slides)? Can I get my over-30 soccer league or my church softball team logo?’ We realized there was a huge market that nobody was really addressing in footwear,” he said.

The team separates the shoe into two components, importing blank white straps and printing custom logos in Denver. “People can upload a photo of their family, dog, cat, team sport,” Herzberger said. “We have the ability to print just one pair, so people can just go to the website and upload a picture.”

Aside from on its website, the company sells the slides via wholesale as well as drop-ship through Fanatics, Finish Line and Target. The slides retail for $50 to $60.

Since the episode's airing, the pair have been in contact with Corcoran’s team, Herzberger said, working through plans.

The Hype Company, which had over $500,000 in sales in the last five years, saw a boost after the show aired.

“Our ultimate goal is to be a leader in on-demand, personalizable footwear,” Herzberger said, adding plans include exploring other types of customizable footwear, such as clogs.

Herzberger and Kue applied to be on the show in the fall of 2022. Shark Tank’s team reached out in the spring of 2023 to get more information, and in March 2024, they found out they were selected for an air date.

“When you say you’re a ‘Shark Tank’ company, everyone recognizes it, and I think it’s really fun. There’s also some really fun ‘support groups’ for lack of a better term … where you can network with other people on the show and learn how they raise capital,” Herzberger said.

He added: “It’s been really great to become part of this greater network of the sharks and their teams, but also all the other companies that have come before us, and ideally we will continue to learn from everybody.”