Lighting Up the Dance Floor: Why We Funded Fuego
Dorm Room Fund is excited to announce our investment in Fuego, a sneaker brand that is revolutionizing dance footwear. Fuego has created a dance sneaker engineered for both the dance floor and day-to-day street wear.
Fuego’s founder, Kevin Weschler, is a Wharton MBA who came up with the idea for a dance sneaker after taking Salsa lessons in Brooklyn. He saw the need to replace outdated dance shoes, which are inconvenient and can’t be worn outdoors on the street. Not only did Kevin hate having to always carry his shoes around, he also wasn’t a fan of wearing antiquated, formal-looking shoes on the dance floor. Dance shoes needed a refresh. Many dancers skip dance shoes altogether and choose to dance while wearing normal street shoes. This is especially the case for hip-hop and dance fitness. However, the traction in these shoes makes it hard to pivot and turn, causing knee and joint pain over time. Kevin wanted a shoe that combined fashion, function, and comfort. Today, Fuego shoes can be found on the dance floor in 23 countries across a variety of dance styles, including Salsa, Hip-hop, Dance fitness, Ballroom, Swing, and more.
By leading product development all the way from the idea stage to the launch of the first shoe, Kevin has become a subject matter expert in the manufacturing of sneakers. Professional and recreational dancers alike responded positively to the initial shoe design, exceeding Kevin’s expectations but also driving him to make even more improvements. Fuego just launched its new and improved version of their dance sneaker, with greater flexibility, breathability, durability, and comfort.
Why Dorm Room Fund Invested
1. Team: Kevin is a scrappy entrepreneur and personifies hustle in everything he does. He has worked tirelessly to bring Fuego to market. Within a year of founding Fuego, Kevin performed countless hours of customer research, designed a shoe, found a manufacturer to make it, launched an e-commerce store, partnered with professional dancers, and hit truly impressive sales and product milestones. Furthermore, he has been a huge asset to Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurship communities and has helped several startups on campus rethink their branding and connect with key business partners.
2. Obsessive Customer Focus: The Fuego team lives and breathes its product which has undoubtedly led to its initial success. Kevin himself is a dancer, and in the process of creating Fuego he has gotten to know and understand the needs of some of the world’s best dancers. As a result of this, he has been able to create a shoe that blurs the line between fashion and performance wear. (Check out this promo video and you will see what we mean.) Within just months of the company’s launch, Fuego has been endorsed by a number of professional dancers, attesting to their true product-market-fit.
3. Market and Long-term Vision: Dance is even more popular than yoga, which seems to be the hottest new trend in the world of physical activity. There are 46,000 dance studios in the U.S. (compared to 43,000 yoga studios). With 30 million dancers in the U.S. and 200 million dancers globally, the dance market is large and is continuing to grow. However, Fuego considers itself to be more than just a dance shoe company. Rather, Fuego is an athleisure and streetwear brand that is rooted in and inspired by dance.
Written by Ryan Morgan, Dorm Room Fund Partner (Philly).
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