Start-up thinks outside the (shoe)box with top menswear

Startup thinks outside the (shoe)box with luxury menswear
Startup thinks outside the (shoe)box with luxury menswear   

Step up your shoe game, says Evan Fript and Ben Earley, founders of Paul Evans, a luxury menswear brand.

Watch the cofounders give their 60-second pitch to a panel with Carter Weiss, founding partner at Silas Capital, Alicia Syrett, founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital, and Kent Bennett, venture partner at Bessemer Ventures. Will the "Power Pitch" panel make them a shoe in or will they get cold feet? Watch the video to see what happens.

Best foot forward

While working in finance, Fript and Earley searched for affordable and stylish, high-quality shoes. They said they faced limited options in retail stores, so they decided to complement their custom suits with their very own footwear brand. "We know what young, successful, professional men want. We feel strongly that today's man is much more fashion forward and excited about looking great then ever before. This of course includes having the best shoes on the market," said Fript.

"We believe that shoes make the man," added Fript.

More quality for less

In August 2013, they launched e-commerce startup Paul Evans. The company sells high-end men's dress shoes and leather goods. "We source, design, market and distribute all of our own products in-house in order to eliminate the middleman," said Fript.

Paul Evans’ men’s shoes
Source: Paul Evans
Paul Evans’ men’s shoes

Because of the direct-to-consumer business model, Paul Evans claims it is able to sell a shoe that would cost $800 in a department store for less than $400 on its website. Currently, 16 men's shoe styles are offered, all made from calfskin leather. The founders chose a manufacturer in Naples, Italy, where they boast well-known luxury brands and also manufacture shoes.

And the founders said beyond quality and style, convenience is also a top priority. "Men don't shop, they buy. Spending five minutes to make an online purchase that's delivered straight to your door is infinitely more convenient than trekking to a department store, making a purchase and carrying the items home," said Fript.

During the Power Pitch segment, Syrett asked the founders how they overcome their lack of retail experience.

"The fact that we don't have a retail background, I think, is actually a strength because we don't come in with these preconstrained notions of what needs to happen or how it has to be done. We're doing things our way, the way we want to do it. And we think we're bringing energy to the industry," Fript responded.

Bennett then asked how capable it is for the Italian manufacturer to scale with Paul Evans.

"They can absolutely scale and have an amazing manufacturing capability. They've been operating for decades and would love us to ramp up further. We're another source of distribution for them, so they want to grow with us," responded both founders.

In the future, the co-founders said they intend on creating a women's shoe line as well as a Paul Evans guide shop, a store model similar to that of Bonobos. Customers would be fitted by a guide, shown different shoe styles and then make their purchase online.

According to Fript and Earley, Paul Evans is growing over 80 percent each quarter with gross margins over 60 percent. Self-funded with $250,000, the co-founders told CNBC they have reached $350,000 in revenue. They project Paul Evans to become profitable and aim for 20 percent operating income this year.

—By CNBC's Heather Schnepf.

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