Read on to learn how a 10th grade student plans to completely change the landscape and culture of sneaker reselling, one of the world’s most rapidly growing industries.
Currently in Secondary Four (the Singaporean equivalent of 10th grade in the US), Remus Er is a 16-year-old Singaporean student who has established himself as one of the premier names in Asia’s luxury sneaker reselling game. He buys limited edition sneakers such as Air Jordans and Yeezys online, then resells them on his Instagram (@hypemaster.sg). In a good month, he can rake in upwards of USD 20,000, over half of which is profit.
Prior to starting Hypemaster, Remus had no entrepreneurial experience, and only began the company after attending the December 2018 edition of an event called ‘Culture Cartel’, held at the F1 Pit Building in Singapore. At the event, which highlights street culture across Southeast Asia, Remus discovered Key Master machines – an arcade machine that allows players to move a key to try and win a prize, usually at the cost of a few dollars. After winning multiple pairs of shoes and then selling them at the event for a few thousand dollars, Remus discovered his passion for the reselling business. Hypemaster was born six months later.
On the surface, Hypemaster’s business model seems simple: buy popular sneakers and resell them to willing customers for profit. But the system is highly dependent on a whole host of factors, some of which are out of Remus’ hands. For example, how much they make in a month constantly fluctuates according to the amount of releases that month. When there’s a very popular release, like this month with the J Balvin Air Jordan 1, it creates demand, and with it, an opportunity for Hypemaster to capitalise. It’s not always smooth sailing though. “If the month is what we call a dry month – the shoes that month aren’t profitable, or there’s a very small number of releases – that’s when we don’t make as much,” Remus explains.
The coronavirus lockdown period in Singapore – known as the “circuit breaker” – created spending power for Singaporeans to buy sneakers , as the Singaporean Government provided citizens with at least SGD 300 (USD 225) as a part of a COVID-19 relief scheme. “That’s why we saw increasing sales during the July, August, and September period,” Remus remarks. “But after that, when they did not continue to get a subsidy, there was a decrease in sales.” Being an entrepreneur, however, Remus was able to pivot to another way of generating profit. He created a Discord group called Cloud Alerts and charged a monthly fee to members who were looking to learn how to obtain limited edition sneakers at retail – the fee covered information, tools, guides, and one to one support.
After purchasing one or multiple pairs of sneakers, Hypemaster lists the shoes on its website as well as WhatsApp and Facebook groups. They even occasionally do pre-orders if the shoes are in high demand. With express shipping, Hypemaster can send shoes to anywhere in the world within a maximum of five days, and sometimes even in less than one day for nearby countries. Its clientele is fairly widespread, but the majority are from Asia – especially India, Indonesia and Malaysia, and of course, Singapore. Certain countries will prefer certain products. For instance, Jordan 1 orders usually come from Indonesia, while Yeezys will usually go to Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Remus attributes a lot of his success to the continuous support of his father, Sam Er. “My dad is very supportive because he’s been through this journey – he has his own company and he’s done his before, but just in a different industry,” he beams. He says that if he’s unsure of anything, his father is always there to provide advice and to warn him of potential dangers. “Through ups and downs, he’s always there for me,” he remarks. His mother, however, is perhaps more reminiscent of a traditional Asian parent. “She’s more worried in the sense that she prefers me to focus on my studies, get the grades, get that cert, and then get a proper job,” Remus laments. “She doesn’t see this as a proper job, she sees it as a hobby instead.”
Although Hypemaster is showing plenty of promise, Remus isn’t putting all his eggs in one basket. College is still on the table for the young entrepreneur, who understands the importance of obtaining a university degree and the avenues that it can open up. “It’s always good to get a degree, whether I use it or not,” he asserts. “It depends, but it’s good to have a safety net out there in case things go wrong. I still have the uni cert as my backup plan, and I can get a job somewhere.”
Remus splits his day into four parts: “6, 6, 6, 6” – six hours for school, six hours for tuition and homework, six hours for rest, and then another six hours to attend to business matters. Such structured organisation is impressive for a teenager who speaks with a confidence and poise that belies his youthful appearance, and relative lack of business experience. He advises fellow entrepreneurs to have confidence in their endeavours, and to not live life with any regrets. “If you need advice, consult your parents or your friends,” he says. “There’s good advice out there but don’t trust it 100%. We’re still young, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t look back.”
The recent opening of Foot Locker in Singapore sparked international attention due to the vast opening day crowds, and the subsequent arrival of special ops and riot police called in to disperse the mass of sneaker fanatics looking to secure a pair of Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 in black – which retails for SGD 349 (USD 262), but can easily be resold for at least a SGD 100 profit.
Remus says that Foot Locker did not post details about the release anywhere online, but sources on the inside managed to obtain information about the drop, which is how people ended up learning about the event – a glimpse into the sometimes secretive world of sneaker reselling.
Remus says more Singaporeans have joined the sneaker reselling scene in recent months, seeking to break away from the traditional grind of a nine to five job. But it’s not exactly easy to get started. He explains that there are two main ways to acquire contacts: meeting people in stores or building relationships with past clients. “When you join this type of scene it takes experience and knowledge to build up not just contacts, but also information about the releases,” he asserts. “Throughout those six months [between Culture Cartel and starting Hypemaster], it took me some time to understand the whole scene better, and I talked to people who have been in the scene for two to three years.”
When asked if he had ever faced discrimination due to his age, Remus replied that he faces more discrimination due to the industry he works in. “They call us scalpers or whatnot, but reselling has been around for decades – maybe not in the sneaker industry, but in property, artworks, and in collectors, there’s a history of reselling where you buy low and sell high.” He believes that many people are “salty” or perhaps jealous of his rapid success, but critics rarely understand the depth and nuances of the sneaker reselling industry – the time it takes to build connections, develop networking and understand how the industry works and functions, and to excel and make money.
Critics might have plenty of things to say about Hypemaster and the sneaker reselling industry, but “unambitious” certainly isn’t one of them. Remus and 22-year-old co-owner are currently working on opening a flagship store called Elev8. The store is Remus’ attempt to redefine sneaker reselling culture, and will be a base for selling plenty of “hype” goods – including shoes and apparel. “We want to build on the customer experience; you’re coming to not only shop for shoes or apparel, but you’re also here to embrace the whole atmosphere, resell scene, and the culture itself,” Remus explains. The store is scheduled to be open for business in March 2021.
Remus has high hopes for the store, and believes that the opening date – coming right after the end of Chinese New Year – will see Elev8 reap plenty of early success. “At that time, Singaporeans will be riding on the Chinese New Year wave, where all the kids, teenagers, and even adults themselves will have red packet money that they’ll get from their relatives, family and friends,” he asserts. “That will create a spending power for them and they’ll be willing to splurge on whatever they want.”
Singaporean men are mandated to complete a minimum of two years of National Service (NS) upon turning 18, and Remus will be no exception. He hopes to get Elev8 and a remodelled Hypemaster up and running before he heads on to NS. It’s uncanny to meet someone so young who seems to already know what his future is going to look like, but it’s safe to say that we’ll be hearing a lot more about Hypemaster over the coming years.