Job Title: Co-Founder Of Athletic Shoe Company
Type of Company: My company designs and patents athletic shoes, contracts with outside firms for manufacturing, and then controls online marketing and distribution.
Education: BA, Economics, Yale University
Previous Experience: This job was my first experience in the field. I had a small amount of previous experience in the financial sector.
Job Tasks: My company is still very small, so I play a hand in the whole process, from designing a shoe, patenting it, finding a manufacturer, marketing, and then selling it. Every design we have starts with an idea about what we think a shoe should have--something about the cushioning, sole, the upper, anything like that. We figure out the best way to incorporate that quality into a shoe that people will want to buy, sometimes meeting with doctors or biomechanical movement specialists to make sure the idea makes sense from an athletic and medical or anatomical point of view.
Then we have to check to see if someone's already come up with that idea and patented it. (Sometimes they have, sometimes they haven't.) If no one else has, we patent it and find a manufacturing company that we can work with. Sometimes we pay them up front, other times we give them part of the profits from the shoes that they make.
Most of our marketing is done online. We try to find websites that target the market we want to sell to: running websites, espn.com and other sports websites... places like that. We've managed to be pretty successful on a small scale, and we're hoping to enter into negotiations with one of the big companies to have them buy us out soon.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part about my job is that I'm my own boss. I get to set my own hours, do what I want to do, and reap all the fruits of my labors.
At the same time, that can also be the worst part of my job. Sometimes there's no one to go to for help and I have to struggle through whatever the problem is on my own. This can be very exciting, but also very scary at times.
1.) Make as many friends as you can who do completely different things. You never know where a good idea will come from.
2.) Find something you love doing, and then devote yourself to that. It's very hard to succeed at doing something you don't like.
3.) No matter what part of a company you find yourself in, having a knowledge of everything (management, IT/Tech, sales/marketing, etc.) will go a long way.
Additional Thoughts: Starting your own company can be a very exciting thing, but it's definitely not for everyone. It requires dealing with a lot of stress and puts you through a lot of uncertainty. Even people who know that they want to start their own companies might be better off working for someone else for a few years to get a clearer picture of how a business is run.
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