Benoit Pagotto is the founder of RTFKT, a virtual fashion platform that quickly became one of the biggest brands in the NFT market.
Pagotto started his career in retail, working for four years at famed Parisian concept store Colette, before moving into marketing. He had stints at various advertising and design agencies, eventually moving in-house at esports company Fnatic.
In early 2020, he launched RTFKT with co-founders Chris Le and Steven Vasilev. Plans for the company’s debut were almost thwarted when in the weeks prior to launch, Nike was awarded a patent for CryptoKicks, a blockchain-based virtual sneaker — the exact product that was set to be at the centre of RTFKT’s brand. The founders forged on, and its virtual sneaker drops — which featured the work of artists such as Jeff Staple and Takashi Murakami — quickly gained attention.
RTFKT’s growth was rapid. By 2021, the company had inked a $8 million funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz and boasted that its collaboration with digital artist Fewocious on 620 pairs of virtual sneakers generated $3.1 million in revenue in less than five minutes. Its monthly revenue in May 2021 was $4.5 million, a massive jump from its total annual revenue of $600,000.
RTFKT’s story came full circle by the end of 2021, when Nike — which never released its CyptoKicks — acquired RTFKT for an undisclosed sum. Pagotto has since added the title of a senior director, brand and partnerships role at Nike to his resume and in April, the two companies released the long-awaited CryptoKicks.