Jesse Rademacher Is Building the Design Platform of His Dreams

Before becoming a self-described entrepreneur, Jesse Rademacher already had what many people would consider to be a “dream job.” After putting in his time as a sneaker and apparel designer for a few different companies throughout his career, Jesse finally landed himself a job at Adidas, eventually becoming the Design Director for Adidas Basketball and Innovation. He was collaborating with superstars such as Pharrell Williams, as well as NBA All-Stars James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Donovan Mitchell. For someone whose two main passions in life were design and sports, Jesse felt like he had struck gold, landing a prestigious job for a huge company where he would get to combine his talent for industrial design and his passion for sports.

They asked these designers, “What percentage of your creative ability is being utilized by your employer?” The vast majority of responses said that they felt that less than 20% of their creative ability was being utilized by their employer. This was all the information that Jesse and Sean needed to make the decision on what type of business to create.

But when he got to what he thought was the top, he wasn’t satisfied. While he learned a lot about design and the industry at Adidas, the company that was instrumental in his career path and development, he felt that there were fundamental things that Adidas was doing wrong in terms of how they approached their creative talent. As a creator and designer, he felt that the large corporate environment and culture hampered his ability to innovate and create. While his stature and income were at their peak at Adidas, he wasn’t happy as a creative. In addition, his mental health suffered because of how he was told to do his job. He was essentially the “basketball fixer” for Adidas for four years, flying around the world on short notice fixing problems that he had not created himself. He felt that working for a company that focused more on profits than on the consumers and the creative talent was harming the entire process of innovation. So, after 10 years, he quit Adidas and sought to start his own business.

That business is Madeium, where Jesse is a Co-Founder. Madeium is the first ever Design “DAO ” (a distributed organization governed by its community), and Jesse set it up as an innovation and creativity machine that he hoped would craft the future of the creative industry and empower entrepreneurship of other creators and designers. The goal of Madeium is to harness the world’s lost creative potential with a community centric approach for designers, innovators, thinkers and makers, and to provide those creators with the tools to design and bring great products to the digital and physical marketplaces. The other Madeium Co-Founder is Jesse’s brother Sean. While Jesse’s background is as an industrial designer, Sean’s background is as a digital and graphics designer.


Jesse began his career path by heading to North Carolina State to major in design. After two years, however, he dropped out and stayed out of school for a year. After his version of a gap year, Jesse returned to NC State to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Industrial Design. Upon graduation, Jesse took a job working for the North Carolina State Government where he was responsible for creating and designing recycling ad campaigns. After two years working for the State Government, Jesse quit and drove west to Los Angeles, where most of the footwear and design companies were based out of.

His first job in the footwear industry was for Sole Technology Inc., where Jesse was responsible for conception, renderings, tech packs, colors, and materialization of products from start to finish. In 2011, after four years at Sole Tech, Jesse was offered a job at Adidas, as their Design Director for Adidas Skateboarding, Snowboarding and Action Sports. He helped bring that division from a 17 million dollar business to a 250 million dollar business in three years, and in 2015, he became the director of Adidas Basketball. Among other things, he got to work with many NBA stars, including James Harden who won the 2018 NBA MVP wearing the shoes that Jesse designed. However, after ten years at Adidas, he knew he wanted to pursue his own venture, and he quit and founded Madeium.

Jesse had always wanted his own business. In terms of finding the right partner, Jesse looked no further than his brother Sean. They had never worked together before Madeium, but their skill sets complement each other so well and they both wanted to get out of corporate America and create a better model for design. It was also a wonderful opportunity to co-own a business with his family. Together, the two of them created Madeium. They have been working on Madeium, building the infrastructure and the ecosystem for three years.

Now, they are weeks away from launching their first product, YxungSneaks.

YxungSneaks is both a digital and physical (in the real world) sneaker product When someone buys a shoe from Madeium, they receive the physical shoe, a digital avatar, and an NFT of a digital version of the sneaker which they can choose to hold on to, sell, or use in digital spaces.

YxungSneaks is 3D printing their sneakers and combining them with digital NFT versions of the sneakers.

According to Jesse, “there really are no competitors to Madeium, because no one else has ever done something like this. EVER.” This gives Jesse and Sean the freedom to continue evolving and changing their business because they have no competition.

Madeium looks to make the sneaker designs as unique as possible, working with and collaborating with numerous artists and designers who want to feature their designs on the sneakers. They have focused on reducing costs as much as possible and expect to have an 85% operating margin, and to make about 10x as much money on each pair of shoes as Nike does.

Hard work and striving to get the design perfect are two things that define Jesse. For YxungSneaks, Jesse designed lots of different models for each shoe and devoted dozens of hours to each design. It takes this kind of hard work to create a truly beautiful and cool design. For example, in 2018 when James Harden won the MVP, he was wearing a shoe that Jesse designed. That shoe went through multiple designs before Harden ever even saw the shoe.


Before launching Madeium, Jesse and Sean talked to over 300 creatives/designers that they had come to know through their many years in the industry. They asked them various questions, but their main question they had was about a concern they had themselves felt within the design industry.

They asked these designers, “What percentage of your creative ability is being utilized by your employer?” The vast majority of responses said that they felt that less than 20% of their creative ability was being utilized by their employer. This was all the information that Jesse and Sean needed to make the decision on what type of business to create.

They then asked these designers what they felt they would need to unlock that 80% of their ability that was not being used. Most of them mentioned having more stability, insurance, and access, so Jesse and Sean decided to build their business on these pillars of providing a better experience and platform for creative designers.

“No one else has ever done something like this. EVER.”

When Jesse left Adidas, he knew that he wanted to make something happen quickly. Jesse and Sean knew they had a real opportunity to do something, but they had to take the time to learn and to build it the right way. While the process of creating Madeium was not too challenging for them, it was definitely a huge learning process. Jesse’s experience at Adidas, both positive and negative, informed his approach. At Adidas, Jesse found that they often talked themselves out of putting ideas into action. Jesse worked on using these ideas and found many more problems in need of solutions throughout the design industry. He set out to solve those problems and to do a better job of providing a platform for others to experiment, innovate, learn, design and build.

Building a business off of believing in creators, believing in their own ability to problem-solve and aspiring to revolutionize an industry, and putting in incredibly hard work is what its all about for Rademachers.

Photo Credit: Jesse Rademacher (with permission)

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