Launching the Pilot for Nike Adventure Club

The Challenge

Kids grow fast and old shoes create a lot of waste.

Kids grow fast and wreck shoes, so moms constantly need to buy new shoes to keep up with their kids’ growing feet. Old shoes are sometimes donated, but many old pairs of shoes are left behind in musty closets or dank garages.

Nike saw an opportunity to solve the hassle of kid shoe shopping and develop a service that recycles old shoes. But before launching an expensive offering, they wanted to experiment with business models.

We partnered with Nike to explore the following:

  1. Build a long-term, 1:1 relationship with young athletes
  2. Leverage alternative business models
  3. Create an on-ramp tool and use case for a new platform powered by a circular supply chain model
Project Overview



Project Type

Corporate Venture Building


Consumer Packaged Goods

Project Attributes

Digital Product/Service
Direct to Consumer

Key Milestones

  • 60-day live Alpha test
  • Beta launch and first revenues
  • Scale to 10,000 users, post profit
  • 18 months | Spin in as Nike Adventure Club

Spun in as Nike Adventure Club and earned millions in revenue in 2020.

Validated Nike’s first use case for a product-as-a-service, circular business model

Created behavior change for consumers to return their used shoes

Expanded upon an attractive market for Nike (i.e., young athletes)

The Impact

The launch of a minimum viable experience (MVX) that scaled successfully into a full commercial version.

By conducting a series of affordable in-market experiments, we helped Nike de-risk its efforts to build meaningful relationships with a new-to-Nike target customer group, and inspired the company to take the leap in shifting its thinking from product-ownership to product-as-a-service.

This project allowed Nike to validate its first use-case for a product-as-a-service, cyclical supply-chain offering, and paved the way for other follow-on offerings in different market segments (e.g. the adult runner).

“No other firm walks the walk like you do. You actually work alongside us to stand the venture up, win customers, collect revenue, and pivot the business model in real-time.”

Head of Nike Accelerator
How we did it

We got into the market quickly to learn and then earn.

Identifying the target customer and defining the MVP

After a series of observational research sessions and interviews in homes and at retail stores, we had validated the critical jobs-to-be-done for the “Chaos Mom” and her 2+ kids.

We identified a minimal set of service elements that we hypothesized would deliver the maximum value and the achieve the jobs to be done.

Testing critical assumptions with learning experiments  

We started by testing our critical assumptions individually. For instance, would customers be willing to return old shoes to us?

To test these, we developed a separate business and brand to house the new service, creating distance from Nike to avoid false positives and internal legal hurdles. We ran landing page tests, prototyped shoe fit and returns, and ran lemonade stands in the wild to recruit sign-ups.

For returns specifically, we went into retail stores, handed out pre-paid shipping boxes to moms with kids and said, “Return this when you’re ready.” More than 50% of the boxes came back, and often with more than just one pair of kid’s shoes!

Validating willingness to pay and earning first revenues with a 60-day live alpha

To test the full service experience, we designed a 60-day, live alpha test that let moms and kids participate in a shoe subscription service.

Kids were able to use a pair of shoes for as little or as long as they want, moms could order their next pair when ready and return the prior pair after the new ones arrived. This alpha test validated our value proposition and business model with paying customers.

Accelerating and scaling to 10,000 users

We continued to de-risk and scale the business by designing a high-fidelity beta-test with a more comprehensive feature set, multiple pricing tiers, and some deeper Nike connectivity.

As we scaled, we continued to refine specific elements of the solution, such as the revenue model, by designing and executing parallel learning experiments with users. This allowed is to get a much better idea of customer’s pain points and needs for the service as it scaled.

Spinning in as Nike Adventure Club

With enough confidence and market data to support a promising commercial launch and acceleration, Nike spun in the venture and launched it as “Nike Adventure Club.”