Blake Mycoskie is the "Chief Shoe Giver" at TOMS Shoes, a company that he founded in 2006 to provide shoes to impoverished children around the world. He has been a professional entrepreneur since his sophomore year in college when he founded a campus laundry business.
Previously, he founded Driver's Ed Direct, launched the advertising firm Mycoskie Media, worked as spokesperson for the online company GreenTiePoker, was CEO of Closer Marketing Group, and served as President of Phil Hellmuth Productions.
He has also had experience on reality television. He was the contestant for Tennessee on Fox's "Sexiest Bachelor in America Pageant" in 2000 and finished third in the second season of CBS's The Amazing Race in 2002. As a result, he launched an all-reality television network called Reality Central in 2002. Mycoskie studied philosophy and finance as an undergraduate at Southern Methodist University.
Question: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Blake Mycoskie: One of the things, I think, with being an entrepreneur, starting a new company that a lot of people make a mistake in is they try to, quote, prove the model for so long, intellectually, in business plan, in research, in focus groups.
To me, it’s a lot of BS at the end of the day. The best thing to do is just do it. Literally just find how quickly and how inexpensively you can create a prototype or a test and just actually go out there and launch it. And it’s not going to be perfect. The logo’s not going to be right.
Our Web site was rinky-dinky, tiny. It looked pathetic when we launched. But we were selling $100,000 worth of shoes every six months on it. So it worked.
You don’t have to be fancy to make it in a business.
So my advice to people who have an idea is just try to launch it for the least amount of money you possibly can and with the least kind of barriers to entry. And then if it works, you can go back and write the business plan and put together the funding and all that. But I think so many people spend so much time trying to raise money or funding and business plans and focus groups that, by the time they actually prove it, they’ve missed the opportunity because someone else has already done it.
Recorded on: April 28, 2008