Photo: Sneakprint

Sneakprint: Shoes that fit like a glove

Personalization instead of mass production - this is the approach Sneakprint takes with its custom-made sneakers using 3D printing. Founder Kevin Zürn tells us about his plans to revolutionize the shoe industry and permanently change consumer shopping behavior.

Munich Startup: What does Sneakprint do? What problem do you solve?

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: Sneakprint produces and sells sneakers that are individually adapted to the foot and the needs of the wearer and whose midsole is produced using 3D printing. That means we don’t sell sneakers by size, but we measure, digitize and analyze each foot in advance to model and produce a suitable midsole in “me-size” for the wearer. Through 3D printing, we can customize the hardness and shape individually and then make everything in one operation.

We are revolutionizing the current shoe industry by replacing mass production with mass personalization. It is important to us that people wear a shoe that really fits and that is worn sustainably for a long time. Currently, one in five sneakers is thrown away unworn, as it is often cheaper for existing brands to dispose of the shoe instead of putting it back into circulation.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: A product like ours does not yet exist in this form. On the current shoe market, there are of course “comfort shoes” that have a so-called memory sole. The sole is supposed to conform to the shape of the foot, but if you have a deformity, this is counterproductive. A memory sole would only manifest the deformity, but not correct it.

Of course, there are also insoles or orthopedic shoes. However, insoles often have the problem that they only fit into the shoe to a limited extent and often no longer provide support after a short period of wear. Orthopedic shoes are often not fashionable and therefore unattractive for young people. Our styled and fashionable sneakers are optimized by an orthopedic technician for each individual foot, this is a real innovation.

The Sneakprint sneaker with individual sole (Photo: Ruan van Jaarsveldt)

Market readiness after three years of development

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: I need insoles myself and have very wide feet, which made it difficult for me to shop for shoes that fit. I had to buy a shoe that fit the insole and often didn’t find one I liked. In 2015, I was still a student and was asked to start a fictional company for a project in college. At that time, 3D printing had arrived in the shoe industry. However, it was not being used for any health benefit, but only as a marketing object. This is how the idea of Sneakprint was born, because 3D printing is perfect for this, to customize each shoe to the wearer’s foot. The idea never left me, but I couldn’t really pursue it at first due to other jobs.

During the Corona pandemic, the time had finally come. I finally found the time and strength to work intensively on the idea and founded Sneakprint. After more than three years of research and development, tests and prototypes, we have now made it and reached market maturity.

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: The biggest challenge was to find a suitable shoe construction as well as the material, a suitable printing technique and a structure for the midsole. We also developed a workflow to automatically generate the individual grid structure. This was a big challenge, but we mastered it. After countless tests, setbacks and investments, after a long time we developed the perfect material in interaction with the printing technique, structure and shape. In the process, many partners were involved and intensive agreements and cooperation were necessary. Another challenge was to develop a working impression set/digitizing solution for our customers’ feet. There are many cell phone scan options to digitize one’s feet via photo. However, many of them were not accurate enough, so at least for now we have opted for our working manual solution. In the long term, however, this will be replaced by a digital scanning solution.

Sneakprint aims to promote conscious shopping behavior

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, where in five years?

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: Our goal is to be an established brand for fitting “me-size” sneakers within a year. We want to gain recognition in the DACH countries and already make our first customers happy. In five years we want to supply all of Europe with our sneakers. We are working on our own production line, which is a realistic goal for five years.

In the long term, we would like to achieve with Sneakprint to promote a conscious shopping behavior of our customers with our sustainable and personalized products. We don’t want mass-produced products that are made for the landfill, but rather convince with high quality, individual fit and design in a sustainable way. A B2B solution for industry is also being planned.

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: Thereare countless programs and subsidies for startups in Munich. We ourselves had the opportunity to have our developments funded through the Innovationsgutschein, Wipano or the Digital Bonus. This has helped us a lot, because as a self-financed startup, funds are limited. However, it takes a lot of time to find the right funding program for you, as there really are countless. Also, there are many events and programs for networking, where you can introduce and present your project to the public. Therefore, I would call the startup location Munich the ideal place to found a company.

Munich Startup: Public transport or bicycle?

Kevin Zürn, Sneakprint: Luckilymy office is close to my apartment, so I can take a walk in my innovative custom sneakers every day. In the city, I usually move around by public transport and I can see many positive changes at MVG that have taken place in recent years: from the simplification of the zone system to more attractive prices for the Deutschlandticket. Since parking in the city is almost impossible anyway, public transport and our sneakers are the perfect combination for getting around Munich.