Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

21 July 2015

Michael Fox, Mike Knapp and Jodie Fox

Three words: your perfect shoes. In 2009, Mike Knapp (BLaws/BSc 2003), a UQ Computer Science and Law graduate, with friends Michael and Jodie Fox, launched Shoes of Prey.

During his time at UQ studying Computer Science and Law, Mike Knapp met fellow Co-Founder, Michael Fox whilst studying the Law and quickly formed a friendship. “Michael was a lot of fun and, in our final year, was the president of the Law Student Society. He was great at managing people and organizing things, and we both enjoyed talking about start-ups,” Mike recalls.

 “It seemed clear enough, even then, that we would start a business together. Michael was studying commerce and law, and his commerce skills have actually served our business very well, particularly when we've had to raise capital.”

Post-graduation, and after a stint as a Judge's associate in the District Court of Queensland, Mike resolved that his passion was working on online businesses. “After trying my hand at being a lawyer I realized that it was no accident I had studied computer science at UQ; it was my passion in life.” Mike said.

Mike joined Google in Sydney in 2005, before transitioning to the engineering team and moving to San Francisco. His role with Google also took him to China, and then back to the US as a software engineer. Then in 2009, a start-up opportunity that would revolutionise the way women shop for shoes presented itself.

“Our inspiration for the business came from the book 'Purple Cow' by Seth Godin. The premise of the book is that, if you are driving down a country lane, black and brown cows start to look very ordinary after a while. However, if you see a purple cow you will instantly be hooked. You will share a photo of it on Instagram, and tell all of your friends. In business, you want to strive to create purple cows, and so we went looking for a concept we thought would really resonate with people.” Mike said.

Around this time, fellow Co-founder, Jodie Fox was getting custom shoes made in Hong Kong. “Her friends loved her shoes so much that they would ask her to make shoes for them too. At some point it clicked that this could be the idea we were looking for.” And so, the trio joined creative forces and Shoes of Prey was born.

The business recently announced a partnership with leading department store, Nordstrom, to roll out six physical stores across North America. Shoes of Prey was one of the first Australian online stores to open a ‘bricks and mortar’ version. The start-up now employs approximately 100 people, and has offices in Sydney, Seattle, Tokyo, Manilla and Guangzhou.

So what next for Mike Knapp and Shoes of Prey?

Mike says that “in many ways we are at the very beginning of our journey. There are so many things left to accomplish with Shoes of Prey, and I'm sure my schedule will be full for the next 10 years!”

As the company’s Co-founder and Co-CEO, Mike’s passion for developing the world’s slickest shoe design interface is only matched by his interest in cutting-edge technology and online learning. “We want to expand our retail stores, continue to create beautiful products and cool technology, and also create a world class organization that treats its workers with dignity and respect. I feel very energized about the future.”

To read more about our entrepreneurial alumni successes, click here to access the full feature in our latest issue of ingenuity alumni magazine.

Visit the Shoes of Prey website.