Brandcenter grads bring no gimmicks, just glory for your best race day ever

Brandcenter alum Patrick Lapera and Rob Arthur chat about running culture and the launch of their new brand, Speedberry.

Photo of Speedberry Racer prototype for Fall 2024 launch

By Megan Nash

Less than a year after teaming up, Brandcenter graduates Patrick Lapera (Copywriting, 2019) and Rob Arthur (Art Direction, 2019), are successfully launching their new startup footwear brand, Speedberry.

Speedberry first started out as a passion project in their last-semester Innovation course with Professor Berwyn Hung and evolved through years of prototyping. Even after joining an agency post-graduation, Patrick, the founder/shoe designer of Speedberry, didn’t hang up his proverbial sneakers altogether. “I really wanted to make something that was mine and wasn’t moderated by creative directors,” said Patrick. “I kept making prototypes and one day Rob and I had a conversation and we said, ‘Okay, let’s do this. Let’s try to make the best shoe possible.’”

Today, Patrick and Rob (Speedberry’s brand director), are busy with soft launching the Speedberry brand in tandem with prepping the release of their flagship “supershoe,” the Superberry Racer, with plans to release this fall. The goal of the brand: help customers “embrace their chase.” For many runners, shoes are naturally their most important and personal piece of equipment. The Speedberry Racer design reduces traditional running shoes to the bare essentials – omitting bulky logos and materials for the fastest run. In other words, they’re unique.

On a Zoom meeting between catnaps (not really, but there’s a cat involved) and their nine-to-five, Patrick and Rob elaborated on brand inspiration, running culture, and how they plan to shake up the market with Speedberry.

For more on their brand story, check out our interview with Patrick and Rob below. 

Tell us the inspiration behind the brand.

Patrick: We started Speedberry because we were inspired by what other people in the shoe industry were doing, not because we were disgusted by it. Atreyu is a company we find particularly inspiring, as they’ve proven that a small shoe company can make running shoes that outperform the world’s biggest brands. The current design team at Puma is also one we particularly admire. 

A more unusual inspiration is actually Caroll Shelby and the Shelby Cobra automobile. In the 60s, his company Shelby American couldn’t afford to develop a sports car from the ground up, so they created a Frankenstein’s monster out of the lightest car chassis and most powerful engine anyone was willing to sell them. The result was a world-beating race car. We like to think the Superberry Racer is the shoe version of that.

What’s the meaning behind the name Speedberry?

Patrick: It was originally going to be called Ragdoll Running, but luckily Rob rescued Speedberry from that name by choosing the code name of the prototype to be the focal point. As a result, Speedberry is a portmanteau of my cat Blueberry’s name and the word speed. 

Rob: We did our research and nobody else was using it. When Patrick first introduced this shoe prototype idea again, I said, “I think you just need to simplify it.” That’s where we started ideating on the look and what we wanted the brand to be about. We’re not trying to copy another brand; we’re trying to create something totally unique.

How would you describe the Speedberry aesthetic?

Patrick: Speedberry is a celebration of an unhealthy love of running. It’s reveling in obsession with running your best race, regardless of how good you are, and even if those things are a little antisocial or selfish. It’s about beating your head against a brick wall until the wall breaks, no matter how concerned your family or friends might be, because smashing your head into brick walls is what gets you out of bed in the morning. In short, a brand for runners. 

Rob: It’s not a fashion brand, it’s not a glamorous product, we’re not trying to create a fashionable lifestyle. That’s what sets this brand apart, it’s about the technical aspect. Speedberry is not trying to jump on the bandwagon and stick our logo on something and call it a day. It’s creating a specific product for a specific purpose from the ground up.

Tell us about the design process and some of the unique features of the Superberry Racer.

Patrick: The one thing we didn’t want to do, especially for a first product, was reinvent the wheel or build the product around a gimmick. While our shoes are stripped down, they’re not minimalist. It’s more about knowing exactly what the shoe will be doing and allowing the removal of superfluous elements. We approached designing the Superberry as a series of decisions and looking at best practices. We want the shoe to help people run their fastest marathon. Then there’s the philosophy of how we got there. 

We thought of it as a racecar – power to weight. Obviously, shoes don’t have any actual propulsive power, but if we add a heel counter, it’ll be three-tenths of an ounce. If you remove some of the padding for the tongue, that’s worth the sacrifice. As for the carbon plate, it’s very close to the footbed in the Superberry. We don’t have enough data on the long-term effects that carbon-plated shoes have on sports injuries, but we’ve gone to great lengths to dampen the impact forces on the foot. It’s definitely not a shoe to run in every day.  

One of the features is a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) skeleton. We really wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t stretch and is resistant to tearing. It acts as reinforcement for the laces as well, but it’s really focused on lockdown, especially because it doesn’t have the amount of padding found in other running shoes, so we have to count on it fitting really well.

Aesthetically, we take a lot of inspiration from aviation, specifically NASA/X-plane prototypes, hence the liberal use of international orange. International orange was, and still is, often painted on NASA prototype aircraft to make visual identification easier. Like aircraft, the form of our shoes is almost entirely dictated by its function, but there are occasionally fun stripes!

Rob: When Patrick came to me, there was already a shape of the shoe, it was already in process. I had a bit of a template to explore. However, looking at a lot of the niche brands, not just Nike and the Asics of the world, still a lot of companies were doing angular spy designs and logos.

Going with a rounded berry-like design with concentric circles, that’s the brief Patrick brought to me initially before I even was fully invested. It answered the problem of making it stand out because not many other running brands have a logo that looks the same.

Who’s your ideal customer?

Patrick: We’ve discovered that there are three main ways people go into running: to exercise, for sport and the subculture. We are definitely oriented towards running the sport. One of the things we realized is that people care about being fast if they’re competitive, but everyone cares about being their fastest. Our ideal customer is someone, regardless of pace, with a difficult but achievable goal. The shoe is designed for a specific use, which is a long run in which your legs will get tired but you’re not going out too hard. 

Rob: As far as a brand perspective, once the Superberry is in a good place, we’re going to start exploring other types of products. We don’t want the Speedberry brand to just have one product, we want it to be a full product line. I’d personally love to see a range of products like shirts and hats one day, but it’s being specific of what we want the quality to be for those as well. That’s when we can open it up to an even wider range of people.

What do you want people to know about your brand? Maybe about you, about the shoe? 

Patrick: The main takeaway is this is a real shoe you can currently run in. I think a lot of people think because we can’t do the big media, they think it’s a render, but it’s a functional product. If anyone has questions on whether it might be the right shoe for you or if you’re exorbitantly fast and are willing to test this for free, you can visit, fill out the contact form and I’ll answer.

Rob: We’re crafting the voice of this brand, that’s the exciting part of where we are. We’re going to be releasing more information on Instagram and appreciate any follows and likes. There’s a lot of potential in this and I’ve been so excited to join Patrick in this endeavor and it’s been great creating something from scratch.

Stay on top of Speedberry and their flagship shoe, the Superberry Racer, launching in fall 2024 at

This interview was part of an extended conversation and has been edited for length and clarity.

The prototype that started it all!
Photo of Founder, Patrick Lapera and brand director, Rob Arthur at a race wearing the Speedberry Racer shoe.