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Self-Storage Turned Sexy: Interview with Sparefoot’s CEO Chuck Gordon

“Self-storage is very sexy contrary to popular belief,” said Chuck Gordon in response to the idea that self-storage isn’t the most appealing industry for a young entrepreneur to pursue.  Chuck Gordon is co-founder and CEO of Sparefoot, the world’s largest online marketplace for self-storage.  Gordon described Sparefoot as the ‘ for storage’.

Chuck Gordon is from Washington, D.C., and attended UCLA.  When he decided to study abroad in Singapore during his junior year, he needed a place to store his belongings.  As one can imagine, Los Angeles isn’t the best place to find affordable storage.  Instead of spending $1,000 on a storage space, Chuck put half of his stuff in his co-founder Mario’s attic in Bakersfield and the other half at his girlfriend’s place in San Diego.  We all know the light bulb moment comes next; ‘there had to be a better way.’

Eight reasons to start your own business when you graduate

Eight reasons to start your own business when you graduate/graduateAre you coming to the end of your university course and wondering what to do next? It’s become a much more popular option for large numbers of graduates, but why would you start your own business?

1 Unemployment is high…

First for the gloomy stuff. According to The Guardian, at the end of 2011, 18.9% of those who graduated in the previous two years were unemployed. Admittedly, this was lower than the beginning of 2010 when the figure peaked at 20.7%, but it’s still more than four-times higher than those graduating four to six years ago. So there are no guarantees you’ll find a job, let alone a job you want. Starting your own business could be the best way to avoid unemployment for some graduates.

2 Competition for good jobs is tough…

Also, according to The Guardiangraduates are now “having to settle for low-skilled jobs more than used to be the case. In the last quarter of 2011, more than one-in-three of those graduating in the last six years were in low-skilled roles.” In 2001 this figure was almost 10% lower. Starting your own business could be the best way to avoid ending up in a humdrum job that doesn’t make best use of your skills or education.

3 You dream of riches…

There are no guarantees, and you might earn less – or little or nothing – by working for yourself. However, running your own business could provide you with more income. So what are you likely to earn working for someone else? First-job graduates earn £15.18 per hour, on average (source: The Guardian). Science graduates doing medicine and dentistry-related jobs earn the most (£21.29 per hour); while first-job humanities graduates pick up £14.63 an hour and arts graduates earn £12.06 per hour (all figures before tax in 2011).

4 You dream of fame…

Many young entrepreneurs now enjoy celebrity status. One example is Richard Reed, who co-founded Innocent Drinks in 1999 with fellow Cambridge University graduates Adam Balon and Jon Wright. Reed studied Geography at St John’s College and then worked in advertising for four years. The three friends started off selling wholesome smoothies from a stall at a London music festival in 1998. Now partly owned by Coca Cola, Innocent sells more than two million smoothies a week, has some 250 employees and turns over £100m-plus a year. Reed is a regular on business TV programmes and is one of the UK’s best-known business people.

5 You want greater flexibility…

Don’t fancy early mornings? Want to pick which days you work? Much will depend on the type of business you start, but working for yourself could grant you much more flexibility to live life your way (including possibly starting your working day a bit later!). That flexibility is unlikely to exist working full-time for someone else. Running your own business might even enable you to work from home or another location of your choice.

6 You want to be your own boss…

Don’t want someone else telling you what to do? Perhaps you’d rather call the shots and decide your own destiny? Fair enough, but with power comes responsibility, which meansyou must make your business a success. Do you really have what it takes? And running your own business can be a lonely, erm, business. It’s not for everyone, but if you succeed, the rewards and sense of satisfaction can be much greater.

7 You have a great idea…

One of the best reasons for starting your own business is coming up with a great idea. Great business ideas come from many places, for example, you might spot a gap in the market or seek to earn a living from one of your passions. You and your university friends may have thought of a good business idea. You’ll still need to test your business idea before starting up, and you’ll still need to work hard, show desire and commitment and get your share of luck.

8 You want excitement…

There’s no doubt about it, starting your own business and growing it into a larger, more successful enterprise is a great challenge and there’s an element of risk, but this can be a source of great excitement. Working for yourself involves highs and lows, so you really need to carefully consider whether running a business is for you. It can be unpredictable, too. Some days you might question why you ever started your own business and on others you might think it’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Starting a new business? Chances are you are unlikely to get a domain name to match for your website

The current crop of startups boasts wacky spellings. The reason founders say, is that practically every new business—be it a popsicle maker or a furniture retailer—needs its own website. With about 252 million domain names currently registered across the Internet, the short, recognizable dot-com Web addresses, or URLs, have long been taken.

The New York cousins who started a digital sing-along storybook business have settled on the name Mibblio.

The Australian founder of a startup connecting big companies to big-data scientists has dubbed his service Kaggle.

The former toy executive behind a two-year-old mobile screen-sharing platform is going with the name Shodogg.

And the Missourian who founded a website giving customers access to local merchants and service providers? He thinks it should be called Zaarly.

Quirky names for startups first surfaced about 20 years ago in Silicon Valley, with the birth of search engines such as YahooYHOO +0.73% —which stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” and GoogleGOOG -0.25% a misspelling of googol,” the almost unfathomably high number represented by a 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

By the early 2000s, the trend had spread to startups outside the Valley, including the Vancouver-based photo-sharing site Flickr and New York-based blogging platform Tumblr, to name just two.

The current crop of startups boasts even wackier spellings. The reason, they say, is that practically every new business—be it a popsicle maker or a furniture retailer—needs its own website. With about 252 million domain names currently registered across the Internet, the short, recognizable dot-com Web addresses, or URLs, have long been taken.

The only practical solution, some entrepreneurs say, is to invent words, like Mibblio, Kaggle, Shodogg and Zaarly, to avoid paying as much as $2 million for a concise, no-nonsense dot-com URL.

The rights to, for example, sold for about $2.5 million last year.

Can a Global Virtual Team Work For a Startup?

Working far from your hometown, doing long-distance business trips and travelling the world are not exceptional in the business life any more. The global virtual team and/or virtual management is now part and parcel of almost every growing business. Sometimes it is necessary to have outsourced staff. Or, the manager has to travel frequently. But being on the move or far away should not be a barrier to keeping a great team together any more.

In truth, those willing to move around or work in long-distance teams are more likely to have the entrepreneurial spirit embedded in them. As a frequent traveller myself, I have picked up many skills and habits from travelling that led me to thrive in the start-up ecosystem: diligently searching for the cheapest options to solve our needs, accepting weird working hours, not being put off by tough means to reach a valuable end and being fascinated by the new and different instead of sceptical. I also discovered during the first year away that friends don’t just disappear – the right match is the right match, and time does not wear that down.

Your travel companions are like your team-mates

Being stranded in stations and airports around the world is not half bad if your companion is a good match. Your travel partner choice is a huge factor in the success and failure of a trip. The same is true for your company, and even more so in the narrow confines of a five-person start-up. The internet has transcended most borders and this means that many employees don’t have to physically be in the same room as you in order to make a successful business work. The Basecamp team did it. So can you. Embrace the technology that makes it possible!

How Growing Your Business Is Like Training In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Last week I found myself caught in a bad situation: I was on the verge of passing out as my neck was caught between two legs. At the same time my arm was gruesomely extended with massive pressure grinding into my elbow. For those that recognize this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique, I was caught in a deadly “triangle armbar.” I considered my options. A) I pass out from the choke B) My arm breaks or C) I could tap out. I chose option C and tapped out with a sore arm and a bruised ego.

“The reason you are getting caught in a submission,” my martial arts instructor Steve told me, “is because you are not attacking enough!”

I looked over to see his Octopus tattoo: a reminder to attack my opponent as if I had eight limbs.

“If you find yourself not moving for more than 5 seconds, move. Do something! Just don’t sit still.”

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson reminded me how closely linked martial arts is to growing a business. It’s all about movement. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the times I stop moving are when I get caught in a submission hold. In business, the times I stop working hard to find new opportunities are when my sales drop. Experience has taught me time and again that movement is the key to surviving in business and to winning at it.

Making sales for your business is one of the strangest things. When you work hard, you sell a lot. Putting in the extra time on a customer proposal, or making one more sales call is the difference between an underachiever and an overachiever. The moment you stop working as hard as you know you can, your sales drop exponentially. It is rare to find an average salesman. I believe that there are only hard working sales people and sales people who do not work enough.

“I’m working really hard but my business is not growing. How do you explain that?”

It is the hardest part about growing your business. It is also the hardest part about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was absolutely demotivating last weekend when someone who hadn’t trained in over a year walked in and crushed me on the sparring mats. After all, I train four times per week at my gym and have 2 years of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experience. Is hard work not the answer to success? After conducting a lot of research, I discovered that hard work is the answer, just not the way I originally saw it.

Mastery Curve

This graph represents the plateaus we experience in our lives. In the beginning of starting something new (a job, a new business or a sport) we easily experience a lot of growth. Some call this “beginner’s luck.” I prefer to think that it is a combination of excitement and knowledge of that skill we didn’t know before.

Looking back at the graph, you will notice the first plateau. The obvious downtrend is when we stop getting the results we first experienced at the start. We do not progress as quickly, our excitement fades a little bit, and ultimately that plateau offers us two options:

Quit and try something else
Work hard until you break through
Do you quit when things get hard, or do you work hard to break through? Hard work requires movement. It requires you to put in the extra hours of training, or the extra hours of cold calling, or the extra hours of networking with new people. It takes movement to get up in the morning when everyone is still asleep. It takes movement to put a smile back on your face when things don’t go your way.

In saying this, the last thing I want to do is “preach” to you. I’m no superman! In fact, getting up on weekends is something I really struggle to do. Knowing that movement is the secret to pushing past my plateaus and reaching new heights of business growth is what motivates me to move out of my comfortable bed instead of sleeping in.

Plateaus are inevitable as you continue to develop your skills in business, martial arts, working out at the gym, or playing a sport. One of the reasons I emphasize working your passions so strongly throughout my blog articles is because when you love what you do, you find the will to breakthrough your plateaus.

Managing Your Movement

One of the best “success” principles I have ever been taught is the ability to organize one’s day with positive habits.

Eric Thomas once said that if you swing your axe at a tree in different places, it won’t move. But if you aim your axe in the same place every single day, eventually that tree will fall down!

I organize my day and my week around a series of consistent practices that I have to do in order to grow my business while working a job and still doing all of the things I love to do. Rather than stay rigid and time-bound, my schedule is a series of daily tasks I have to accomplish each day in the same order.








Cold Call

Cold Call

Cold Call

Cold Call

Cold Call










Writing Articles

Writing Articles

Writing Articles



Writing Articles



Writing Articles

Marketing Over Social Media

Marketing Over Social Media

Marketing Over Social Media

Marketing Over Social Media

Marketing Over Social Media

Marketing Over Social Media

Marketing Over Social Media

Free Time

Free Time


* Note: I use a Franklin Covey Day Timer to keep track of all of my weekly appointments, and CRM (customer relationship management) software to manage my sales opportunities and contact list.

In total, it may not seem like I’m doing a lot of things. That’s exactly what I want. I do the same key tasks day after day that slowly place me on the fast track to success. Overcoming plateaus becomes easier each time I experience one because I keep repeating the same tasks over and over without thought or doubt. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we call this “muscle memory.” When you practice the same movement one million times, eventually that technique becomes second nature. In business, repeating the same series of tasks eventually becomes second nature too. Growing your business is like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The more you move, the more you will grow and succeed.

To conclude, I wish to leave you with my favourite quote from Bruce Lee.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Adrian Boucek is the author of, a blog full of charismatic wisdom, controversial advice and passion-fueling interviews on the topics of Career Advice, Dream Employment and Entrepreneurship. Follow Adrian on Twitter: @adrianboucek

Startup to $850,000 in 1 Year: Interview with Crisp Video Group’s Michael Mogill

A year and a day before I spoke with Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group was born.  Only 366 days later, the company has grown to 8 employees and is projected to earn $850,000 in revenue for the year of 2013. Having success as an entrepreneur is nothing out of the ordinary for Mogill, who at the age of 12 launched a web design company out of his parents’ home.  “I’d have web design clients come to my house and my mom would let them in the front door.”

Now 27, the Atlanta based entrepreneur and Crisp Video Group have landed clients including Audi, Red Bull, and Verizon, while simultaneously building a niche in the dental and medical industry.  The company specializes in promotional videos less than 5 minutes long, often called sizzle or highlight reels.  After seeing an opportunity in the dental industry, Crisp Dental was launched and focused on filling marketing voids.

Q: How have you been able to grow Crisp (to this level) in one year?

A: “It’s really just company culture and work ethic.  From the very beginning I’ve been committed to doing this the right way.”

In addition to being the sole owner of Crisp, Michael is the founder and owner of ATL Nightlife and Reboot Music, both of which are based out of Atlanta.  Michael admits that balancing time between his endeavors is still a work in progress, but surrounding himself with a great team and putting systems and structures into place help with time management and balancing his businesses.  Mogill realizes the sacrifices that need to be made as an entrepreneur.  “If you want to get invested in entrepreneurship, you have to put the time in.”

Hear the full audio interview with Michael Mogill below.

Interview Highlights

– Most important factors when using video marketing: Have a goal behind a video. “Never put together a video just to have one.” The quality of the video reflects the quality of the brand.

– Best experience as a young entrepreneur: Being able to help clients solve a problem and creating something from nothing.

– Advice for young entrepreneurs: Cut the people who aren’t getting you where you need to get to, those who are bringing in negativity or not hitting deadlines.  Don’t spend time hoping people will change.

Michael Mogill’s keys for young entrepreneurs

– Set standards for what you will and won’t accept.

– Surround yourself with ‘A’ players.  People who do what they say they’ll do.  Also, put people where they will succeed.

– Have 1 person that you can count on and rely on so that you don’t have to do it alone.  Have somebody there who understands and can support you along the way.

Quick Fire Questions

One industry you wouldn’t want to do a promotional video for? I wouldn’t want to do a video for a client who doesn’t believe in their own product or service.

Coolest brand or project that you have done a video for? Easy, Red Bull Freestyle, a National DJ Competition.

What is the one company that you would do anything to work with that you haven’t had the opportunity to work with yet? I’m a diehard hockey fan, so I would have to say the NHL.

Favorite alcoholic drink? Patron and pineapple.

Favorite musician? Based off of the best concert I’ve ever been to, U2.

Favorite celebrity that you’ve met in person? Comedian Aziz Ansari.  Everything he says is funny.  He was a friendly and genuine guy.

Listen to the full interview here:

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

About the Author: Michael Luchies Michael Luchies

Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur and passionate supporter of everything entrepreneurship. Michael is Co-Founder of PitchJam and is National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). He has been covering entrepreneurship over the past 5 years and has been published on Under30CEO, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, ThinkEntrepreneurship, PitchingGreatness, and other websites and publications. On Twitter @MichaelLuchies.

Dear Entrepreneur: Uncertainty is Natural

Response to a post by a newly minted entrepreneur on facing everyday blues and uncertainty in the first 6 months.

Dear Entrepreneur,

The fun thing is that you never know whether you’re on the right track or not. It is living life in small moments and the bigger picture at the same time.

You’re On A Trek

Imagine you’re on a trek. Keep looking at the peak every now and then. Are you nearer to it then you were before? If yes, keep focusing on the path, or make one that seems right. If the peak seems farther that it was before, realize which was the wrong turn and undo it. Ensure your team stays together, ensure all of them want the peak. Ensure each one of you wants to share the load while making your way to the top by sharing food and water among yourselves equally. The peak is the BIG PICTURE and your immediate path stands for the everyday challenges. Roadblock? Find a way. Thirsty? Find a stream. Leopard in your way? Knock it out (killing is cruel). One team member behaving like a douche? Show him the way down. Douche villager who is rude while showing the way? Still be polite (burn no bridges).

Losing steam? Look at the peak again! Breathe the friggin’ mountain air! Look at your strong legs, look at the clouds, look at the innocent birds chirping happily all around you- the world loves you. You love yourself. And you’re so strong that you’ve made it so far. You chose the mountain. You chose your team. You chose the path- built it, I’d say. You’ve settled in your niche, you know your purpose, you know where you’re headed. LOOK AT THE PEAK! And it will all make sense.

Uncertainty is Natural

Because no one is driving your life but you. You never know that you’re on the right track till the short term goals get fulfilled. Set milestones, they help you know that you’re on the right track. Product reached a certain stage? Good. People/Mentors appreciate the progress? Good. Team still motivated enough? Good. You figure out how you’ll make money? Good.


Understand the reason why you feel you’re back at Square One. Is it the progress at the project? Is it lack of team cohesion? Is it lack of financial security? If yes, then get things in order. List them, sort them out. Make sure the startup grows slowly but steadily. Is it purely emotional? Speak about it to your family, your better half. Feel loved.

The First Year Is Often Slow

It always is, because you’re out in the cold, trying to build something and making tonnes of mistakes. But you learn so darn much then, that helps you accelerate in the next year and after that. So don’t worry that you’re taking time, you’re learning in the process. But DO NOT get complacent and DO NOT take things as they come. You might need to initiate and lead and create and execute.

Where Is This Coming From?

From numerous conversations I’ve had with fellow business people, my own experience (2 years out in the cold till date), a number of blogs online and wonderful books I’ve read. You’re not alone, but you gotta do what you gotta do :)

Kick ass. Best wishes.

Sushrut Munje – Founder & MD at Hammer & Mop, a premium cleaning services company based in Mumbai (India). In love with efficiency and animals. Writes a non-commercial editorial series for StartupCentral on customer service insights.

Startup Weekend Isn’t Just for Entrepreneurs

Startup Weekend is the best 54 hours of my year. I’ve helped organize Startup Weekend Columbia for the last two years, and with this year’s event happening in just two short months (September 13th through the 15th), I started to ponder why some people are intimidated by the thought of attending.

I hear things like, “I’m not an entrepreneur” or “I’m not a developer” or, even better, “I don’t have an idea.” These are all objections I can easily combat by explaining what really goes on at Startup Weekends — and why they’re valuable for everyone. Whether you’re a high school student who’s never even heard of the term “coding” or a 60-year-old business professional with zero interest in joining a startup, Startup Weekend is for you. Here’s why:

High School and College Students

Why Attend: You need experience. You want fun. Startup Weekend has both. During the 54 hours, you’ll build new skills you never thought possible, you’ll be able to tackle a real problem and create a real business to solve it, and, better yet, you’ll have fun doing it. Columbia Startup Weekend makes an effort to combine work with play by providing games, kegs (for the over-21 crowd), and a host of other activities to liven up the weekend. If you have a great idea, Startup Weekend could even turn into your career.

Success: At the 2011 Columbia Startup Weekend, two high school students, Nahush Katti and Vikram Arunachalam Arun, blew the audience away with their concept for DoctorOn, a teleophthalmology company. The DoctorOn device consists of a small machine called iOn, which manipulates light into a slit and is designed to be attached to a smartphone, and an app. The DoctorOn team was recognized at Startup Weekend and has since gone on to participate in other pitch competitions; they’re on their fourth iteration of the prototype for the iOn device.

Recent Graduates

Why Attend: You either have a job or need one. Either way, Startup Weekend will strengthen skill sets that will help you progress in your career. If you’re interested in starting or joining a startup, this could not be an even better event for you — you’ll meet lots of startup founders and talk to people who are starting the journey themselves.

Success: Last year, Ryan Brennell led a team called Gladitood (formerly Woogah) and created a platform that helps conservation and humanitarian projects raise funds and rally volunteers from all over the globe. It’s a medium through which people can truly experience the world by engaging in communities everywhere. Gladitood received an honorable mention at Startup Weekend and has since been accepted into St. Louis’ ITEN and presented at 1 Million Cups.

Professionals/Business Owners

Why Attend: The other participants at Startup Weekend could be your future clients or employees. You’ll never find a better-targeted group of intelligent and driven individuals in your hometown. This is the number-one “networking” event you should attend all year. Don’t walk around trying to sell, though; get involved with a team and add value. They’ll remember you. If you happen to join a group that’s working on something you truly believe in, you might just find yourself in a new career.

Success: Eric Margheim joined the MedSocket group at Startup Weekend Columbia. MedSocket is a company dedicated to improving healthcare by connecting clinicians with the best health information available with two patented products: 1-CDS, a clinical decision support tool, and 1-Search, an innovative medical search engine. These tools provide clinicians with easy access to information at the point of care. MedSocket received third place at Startup Weekend and has since gone on to receive seed funding from Centennial Investors. The team now consists of five full-time employees and several part-timers, and it’s even been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Grant.


Why Attend:  If you’re an investor complaining about the lack of great local companies to invest in, you must attend Startup Weekend. You could not find a better opportunity to vet potential founders, provide feedback before making an investment, and see an idea from conception to execution.

Success: Columbia’s first Startup Weekend winner was Zapier, a SaaS company that allows users to sync web apps without ever writing a line of code. Zapier went on to participate in Y Combinator, but local investors were able to see the potential first — and a couple of them invested.

Startup Weekend is a great opportunity for everyone, from high school students to CEOs. Participants get to hone their skills, meet other driven people, and drink lots of coffee. Look for a Startup Weekend in your town so you don’t miss out — it may just change your life.

Kelsey Meyer is the President of Influence & Co. and the co-creator of “Contributor Weekly.

7 Lessons From Sustaining Our Startup’s Rapid Growth

Ministry of Supply launched in June 2012 to immediate fanfare- garnering 4,000 customers and selling 6,000 dress shirts in our first month.  At the time, one of our co-founders, Kit Hickey, described the company as, “an adolescent trapped in a baby’s body, and we had to learn how to sprint before we could learn how to walk.”

Fast-forward one year, and today our company is the proud parent of four beautiful products, with a fifth on the way.  The ATLAS performance dress sock is the most technologically advanced and sustainable product we have released to date.  Its Kickstarter campaign, that ended recently, raised twice its goal in only 24 hours.  So how does the game change between the first and fifth child of a company?  Kit wrote an article for Forbes a few months ago entitled “5 Lessons From Managing Our Startup’s Rapid Growth.” Since seven seems like a lucky number, I want to talk about the “7 Lessons for Sustaining Our Startup’s Rapid Growth”

1.  Be Thirsty: Keep Learning And Moving.

My father was my high school hockey coach, and he used to have a saying, “Get a little piss and vinegar in your veins when you’re on the ice.”  It may not be the most eloquent quote, but it gets the point across.  Be thirsty for the next sale, be thirsty for the next investor pitch, be thirsty for the next chance to “wow” someone.  But also, don’t get tunnel vision because of this thirst.  Be open and learn along the way.  The more you go after opportunities and keep moving, the more you learn, the more you fail, and ultimately, the more you succeed.

2.  Build Community Through Empathy.

A company is nothing without its customers.  Nothing is more important than understanding the woes of a customer, relating with them, and trying to help them out if something goes wrong.  Recently, we had a customer email us saying his wedding was coming up soon, and he wanted to buy a CORE undershirt to stay dry and comfortable, but our website showed the item was out-of-stock in his size.  So we sent him two of a different size, for free, along with a handwritten note saying these were a wedding present from us.  Building a startup isn’t just about profit-loss and customer conversion, it’s about being human and building a community around the products you are passionate about and the values your company holds true.

3.  Create Through Design Thinking.

Design Thinking is like the Scientific Method of Product Development.  Identify a problem, brainstorm all possible solutions, refine your solutions, and then act on your information.  Whether designing enterprise resource planning software or a luxury watch, design thinking asks you to critically analyze exactly what you want to accomplish and use a combination of artistic and scientific thinking to develop an amazing product. Steve Jobs had a quote, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means who it looks.  But, of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” This mindset builds great products.

4.  Be Confident.

It’s hard to define beauty.  Is it the Golden ratio?  Is it an Apple product?  Maybe it comes to down to Justice Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it,”  (although he wasn’t referring to beauty…).  Regardless of how it’s defined, as a fashion company, we are striving for it and we have to be confident in our tastes. It doesn’t matter if Ministry of Supply clothing keeps your body cool, is forever wrinkle-free, or can make you a grilled cheese sandwich if it doesn’t look like stylish clothing that you would feel proud to wear.  There are always times of doubt when we wonder “will customers buy this product?” or “Is developing this product a waste of time and resources?” We are all human, and these feelings are natural.  Having the self-confidence and conviction to push through the doubt and believe in your abilities will be one of the best qualities you can acquire.

5.  Promote An Active Lifestyle.

Promote the lifestyle your brand is built upon.  Our apparel is built for an active lifestyle, so we need to be promoting one, or else we become hypocrites.  Our belief is that when the body is active, the mind will stay active, too.  We challenge ourselves to be active and be our best, even when going on company retreats.  Our most memorable retreat included hiking and winter camping in negative degree temperatures, which is certainly no cakewalk along the beach.  We want our customers to feel their best and our employees to be their best at all times.

6.  Innovate Through Technology.

MIT is our heritage, NASA is our inspiration, and we are changing the way people view their clothing by infusing technology into everything we make.  We use thermal imaging, strain analysis, and pressure mapping (processes usually reserved for industries like aerospace and automobile) to ensure our new ATLAS dress socks have the optimal balance of ventilation, durability, and comfort. Innovation doesn’t require a brand new, novel idea.  Innovation is about finding new uses for existing technology and making something new and better as a result.

7.  Be A Champion.

Yes winning is important, but this isn’t the type of champion I am talking about.  There are nine members of our team, and we all champion different areas of the business. Gihan Amarasiriwardena, co-founder and engineer by trade,specializes on product development and new technologies, while AC Ingersoll works tirelessly on social media and marketing communications. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop Gihan from suggesting a funny idea for a Facebook post, or AC from brainstorming new product features.  Be a champion of what you do, but don’t put up fences based on job titles and company tenure.  Champions are team players, they better everyone around them, and they attract talent.


This one isn’t rocket science (even though our APOLLO dress shirt does use some of that…).  Set goals, accomplish goals, set new goals.  Know your core strengths, know your core market, and know what you do not know.  Concentrate on how to best grow your company, and don’t be distracted when issues arise.  Deal with problems in stride, and stay on the course to success.

Derek Switaj works at Ministry of Supply, an e-commerce company that is inventing the future of performance professional apparel. The company has been featured in TechCrunch, Inc., Forbes and Elle Magazine. Derek is also the head of the Boston College Entrepreneur Society and serves as the Boston Regional Director of the Compass Fellowship, a social entrepreneurship program for freshman in college.

That Moment When You NEED To Start Your Own Business

“Dude, the margarita mix is only half full!”


“You didn’t fill the margarita mix!  What the hell have you been doing all day??”

These wonderful words were provided to me from a young punk who clearly didn’t read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders.  This illuminating conversation was at the end of a long shift when I was working as a barback at a bar/restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

You see, I thought this job was going to be great.  Right on the Fort Lauderdale beach, I heard stories of barbacks making over $50 per hour in season, sometimes almost a thousand dollars in one day.  What I came to realize is that reality doesn’t always equal expectations.

After this brief conversation occurred, Basketball Training Club was on my mind almost 24/7.

I had an idea for what I wanted to do, but, at the time, I was still in the mentality of “getting a job and working your way up”, which, in today’s world, is extremely flawed.  I searched for good opportunities wherever I could, but they were few and far between.

So what did I do?  I did whatever any visionary entrepreneur would do; I started by own business.

I started to put hours and hours of my free time into creating Basketball Training Club.  I made a vow that I would never have to get a crap job like a barback again, doing things like mopping up vomit, cleaning toilets, and doing trash duty, all while being treated like another worthless employee.  Anybody could do that, and I wondered how I was going to separate myself.

For a lot of people, they get sucked into the older generation’s mentality of life: go to school, get a job, work hard, and retire.  That mentality worked 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.  But lots of people are still stuck in the mindset of working for someone else, since that is what they have been conditioned from birth to do.  In school, you’re supposed to follow all the rules, and get the right answers so the teacher can give you a good grade.  At a job, you’re supposed to be a good employee, do your job, and not cause problems.

But now, people are being fired by the thousands without even a thank you.  I worked at a bar for 8 months, putting in thousands of hours.  I was fired by a text saying, “You’re not on the schedule anymore.” My friend worked at a restaurant for about 2 years, and was one of the hardest workers I’ve seen.  That restaurant fired him for one little mistake.  In my mind, starting a business is one of the most rational things you can do for yourself these days.  Great employees are being let go all the time, and the job stability of the past has vanished.

This will encourage more people to create their own businesses, and monetize what they know.  However, where are the schools on entrepreneurship? Where is the information to help people be an expert at what they know?

From the beginning of time, entrepreneurs were the lifeblood of society, with Thomas Jefferson wanting to create a new America, to John Hancock signing the Declaration of Independence.  No boss would have told them, “Oh yea, John, next week we’re going to create a new country independent from the British.  We’ll need you to work overtime.”

America came from the ideals and passion of the entrepreneurs who realized that being ruled and having a boss was not working.  They realized that if they didn’t create a new nation to make life better for themselves, nobody would.  Most importantly, they knew they could do it, and would strive their hardest to make their vision a reality.

Now, I’m encouraging you to realize that you have the skills to succeed.  You have the knowledge and you have the passion, yet only you know what that is.  A question for you to ask yourself is, “What can I do better than anybody else?”  And how can you help people, and make the world a better place, with your knowledge and skills?

We are living in an age where there is almost unlimited opportunity, if you know where to look.  Figure out what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and how you can make money doing it.  The rest will fall in line.

So now, what are you going to do?

Tyson Hartnett has played professional basketball in Sweden, Argentina, and Chile, and has recently started his first business,  He created Basketball Training Club to try to help players from all over the world not only better their basketball games, but to try to help better their lives as well. 

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