How Kevin Ma, founder and CEO of Hypebeast, turned a sneaker blog into an empire

Kevin Ma isn’t bothered with a five-year plan. “Every day, we’re just trying to improve on the last one,” says the founder of the men’s streetwear bible Hypebeast. For the 35-year-old Canadian entrepreneur, who has grown his company from a scrappy digital resource for sneakerheads into a global cultural force, that slow-and-steady approach seems to be working just fine. Born and raised in Vancouver, Ma grew up far away from the cities that fostered the youth culture he craved. He sought out obscure fashion magazines and dove into online sneaker forums that covered the latest trends in New York, London, and Tokyo.

In 2005, Ma turned his passion for shoes into a business by launching Hypebeast at a time when street culture and blog culture were just getting acquainted. Over the past 12 years, Hypebeast has evolved into a sprawling multimedia empire, including an e-commerce platform that carries over 300 brands. The website attracts millions of monthly visitors and sets trends with its snappy coverage of shoes, fashion, and technology. At an uncertain time for print media, in 2012 Ma even launched Hypebeast Magazine, a quarterly featuring long-form journalism and sleek fashion editorials. Next, he has his well-trained eye on the Latin American market. When asked about his recipe for success, Ma keeps it simple: “Follow your instincts and try different things out,” he says. “It’s cliché to say, but if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed.”