You’ve had the lightbulb moment – the idea that you know you’ll do anything to bring to fruition. But what does ‘anything’ entail? How do you secure funding? Should you take out a loan? Or is Kickstarter the right avenue for you?
Tom, the designer behind Doughboy Watches, found himself in that boat when he first came across the market for World War 1 trench watches. Armed with a creative mind and less inclined to think about the numbers, he was quickly immersed in the business operations of running a design-centric brand. Here, he talks about embracing the learning curve.
What advice would you give to a young brand seeking funding?
The first question to ask yourself is: what separates your brand from everyone else? Create something truly unique that has an incredible story behind it and people will come to you. When we started Doughboy, there wasn’t another watch around that looked like ours, and given the history behind the watches, we had people hooked. Start to build up awareness about your brand using social media – the more people are talking about it, the more everyone will want to be a part of it – including investors.
What would you advise young entrepreneurs to keep in mind when delivering an elevator pitch?
If you want someone to invest in your product, they want to know that their money is backed by something made with confidence. If it takes you more than 45 seconds to explain your product to someone, you need to rethink your marketing pitch.
You mentioned that you started with $12 and an idea – what were your first steps of the ideation and development process?
Yes. Twelve dollars, two friends with different talents, and we were off and running. I wanted to create a watch that harkened back to the earliest form of the modern wristwatch. Creating a watch that was made over 100 years ago is a bit of a challenge, because the people that you would get information from on how to do it are long gone. Since I have a background in working with metals and machinery, I consulted various industry resources and books. It’s amazing the amount of free information you can find in books.
3 Important Lessons for Every Entrepreneur:
- Spend a lot of time reading: a knowledgeable person is a successful person.
- Once you have a well-developed idea of what you want, figure out where you can find your materials and how to streamline that process.
- Never borrow more money than you can pay back.
Inside Tip: You can’t look at a small business in the month to month term if this is something you want to do for the rest of your life you have to think yearly.
As a designer, how did you embrace the business side of your operation?
For me, it was by bringing people on the team that know how to get things done, and if they don’t know at the time how to do it they will figure it out for you. If you don’t have a strong foundation your venture will fail, period. This will also help your creative side continue to thrive. Being caught up in the logistical part of your business as a creative can seriously hurt ideas for new products and progressive branding. I am terrible at logistics, and my business partner Adam is one of the most crucial parts of this entire operation.
When it comes to our next move on how to grow our business, I rely on his judgement. But remember that if you have partners in your business, it can be challenging to all gravitate towards one goal. Everyone has something different they bring to the table, and in order to have a healthy business that produces results you need to have respect for all of those people and ideas, whether they’re good or bad.
Feature image photographed by Liz Clayman
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