I started Yes Man without know anything about business, entrepreneurship, or even watches. All I had was a vision and was willing to do anything I could to make it happen. At the time I had just finished my freshman year of college, cruising through the year and having the time of my life. That summer, I landed what I thought was an awesome internship—I would be selling the same kind of eye-black pro athletes wore to stores across the country.
My internship as a sales rep was not what I had imagined—I ended up making hundreds of cold-calls a day. I couldn’t believe how constraining and restricting the 9-5 workday felt. I wanted to do more with my life and entrepreneurship was my outlet. After realizing my 9-5 job was only 1/3 of my day, I set out to chase my dream of starting my own company.
The vision for Yes Man came freshman year when my friends and I would make the most of our day by considering our use of time. We’d be surfing before class or catching the sunset at night and realized time is invaluable and everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, yet so few acknowledge their allocation of time.
While shopping one day I came across a belt without holes and thought why not apply that concept to a watch strap. Entrepreneurs should always be thinking how to apply innovations in other ways and that’s exactly what I did—I created the first holeless leather watch strap.
Now the hard part started—finding a reliable supplier. I used to live in China as a foreign exchange student my junior year of high school so that was the first place I looked. I connected with people all over the world and ended up working in four different time zones. I was based in my hometown of Bethesda, MD leading everything, had a buddy in San Diego helping me design our logos, had an engineer in Budapest developing our computer aided designs, and have our manufacturer based in China.
I still remember the day I received Yes Man’s first watch prototype—I was literally pacing in front of my door when it arrived from our supplier. It had been four months since I had really started to pour my life into Yes Man, and finally our baby had arrived. Now that we had our supply chain dialed in it was time to turn to Kickstarter to fund production.
Kickstarter was an incredible process—it’s about 30 days of insanity. You’ll either blow your funding goal out of the water and drown in all the attention or you’ll struggle to push towards it. Both scenarios are a wild ride. We pushed hard and reached our $15,000 goal in under three days.
Through my college entrepreneurship experience I’ve learned anyone can start a business. What it comes down to is execution and implementation. People tell me their ideas all the time, but rarely do they act on them. Your idea is nothing without implementation.
I’m now onto my second Kickstarter campaign, funding production of Yes Man’s newest product line: handmade hybrid bamboo sunglasses. This summer while traveling China, checking out suppliers and connecting with other entrepreneurs, I came across this supplier who literally grows the bamboo we use on our sunglasses in his backyard. I was blown away by the quality and have never seen anything like it. This incredible connection led us to launch these sunglasses! We’re live on Kickstarter now and could really use your support. I think it’s a no-brainer- we’re hooking you up with polarized handcrafted sunglasses for only $30 while other brands charge well over $100. Check it out here
Entrepreneurship is a journey and nothing happens overnight. Regardless of where you end up with your business, starting will for sure be a learning experience. I can guarantee you, you won’t get anywhere thinking about your idea. Start doing and who knows where you’ll end up.