A version of this article previously appeared Forbes. When I learned that one of my former UC Santa Barbara students scored a $1 million investment from the Shark Tank judges, I reached out to see what insights he might be able to share with his fellow entrepreneurs. Whether you love or loath the show, his responses might surprise you. Jeff Overall, Founder and CEO of PolarPro, was successful because he properly balanced the show’s need to entertain its audience, while delivering a professional pitch of his solid business. The entertainment factor was his exaggerated, surfer bro delivery which charmed the judges, but didn’t distract them from the underlying fundamentals of the business. I recently caught up with Jeff and he candidly shared his thoughts regarding his Shark Tank experience and whether or not he felt the return on his efforts were worthwhile. You can check out his Shark Tank pitch HERE (go to the last segment of the video and be ready to watch an annoying onslaught of commercials).
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. In this second installment of my conversation with George Powell, Founder and President of Skate One, he describes how Tony Hawk and the other members of the Bones Brigade revolutionized skateboarding and made it cool again, after its near death in the late-1980’s. He also shares his frank thoughts regarding his long-standing relationship with Stacy Peralta. Skate One is now the world’s largest skateboard company, with best-selling brands such as Powell•Peralta Skateboards, BONES Wheels and Mini•Logo Skateboards. You can read part one of our discussion here, which covers a number of insightful topics, including the origin of Skate One and George’s multi-decade partnership with Stacy Peralta.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. George Powell is proof that you can do well by having fun. Rare and fortunate is the person who successfully converts their passions into a lucrative vocation. Mr. Powell, Founder and President of Skate One is such a man. The world’s largest skateboard company, Skate One produces many of industry’s best-selling brands, including Powell•Peralta Skateboards, BONES Wheels and Mini•Logo Skateboards. I am always on the lookout for inspiring entrepreneurs who have leveraged their passions into healthy livelihoods as they serve as instructive role models for my UC Santa Barbara entrepreneurial students. After speaking with Mr. Powell, it was clear he fit the bill. This is the first of a two part, extensive interview I recently conducted with Mr. Powell.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Rose Broome, Founder of HandUp is rocking the non-profit world. HandUp allows donors to hyper-focus their donations to individuals with specific needs. This is a game changer for the homeless. Rather than panhandling for spare change, HandUp, with the help of its partners, allows people in need to create a video which tells their story. Instead of putting their handout for money, they can give passersby a card which contains a URL to their video. Donors can then make targeted donations, knowing that 100% of the money will be applied to removing obstacles which are keeping the person in poverty. In one instance, a HandUp client had secured an apartment, but they needed money for the security deposit. HandUp collects the money and then provides it directly to the landlord, ensuring that the donors’ funds are properly deployed.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Kurt Kutay, Founder and CEO of Wildland Adventures, believes that "luxury adventure travel" does not have to be an oxymoron. In fact, for the past 27-years, he has specialized in bringing exotic travel destinations to those of us who are healthy and active but whose competitive sporting days are long behind us. Ever fantasized about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro but aren't on speaking terms with any Tanzanian Sherpas? How about hiking in Patagonia without carrying a 60-pound backpack and eating freeze dried food? Kurt and his crew can make these, and about 35 of other once-in-a-lifetime treks, a reality.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. It should be no surprise that this social media guru has earned over 113,000 authentic Twitter followers. His bonafides are impressive: named by Forbes as a Top 50 Social Media Influencer, cited by LinkedIn as a Top 25 Social Media Market Expert and proclaimed by AdWeek to be a Top 50 Person Re-Tweeted By Marketing Leaders.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Always the bridesmaid? While it still emotionally sucks, at least it will no longer break the bank; that is, if Kelsey Doorey has it her way. Warning: Kelsey's idea will make you ask yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?" Ms. Doorey, Founder and CEO of Vow To Be Chic, believes that men have had it too easy for too long. When they are invited to join a wedding party, they simply roll into a tuxedo shop, rent a suit that (sort of) fits and off they go, fully equipped to sing bad karaoke and do shots at the wedding reception.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Much has been written about social entrepreneurship; ventures in which an explicit goal is the betterment of society. However, far less attention has been applied to entrepreneurial philanthropy, in which a startup mindset and accountability is applied to issuing non-profit grants. Intrigued by the concept, I was turned onto one of the leaders in this emerging field of philanthropy, A Better Chicago (ABC), by friend and ABC Board Member, Brent Rasmussen. ABC is applying entrepreneurial principles to the art of charity. Even the organization's lexicon reinforces its startup mindset. It performs "due diligence" before it makes "investments" and it measures results as a "return on its investment."
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Ms. August Scott began her Zappos career in their customer support call center. Her positive attitude and willingness to take chances rapidly propelled her to the coveted and influential position of Coach. I met Augusta when I toured Zappos' headquarters as part of the Downtown Project's Catalyst Creative Speaker series (you can view my talk here). Several Zappos employees had mentioned "Coach" and the impact she has had on the corporation during our tour. When we passed her in the hall, her face lit up and she gave us a joyous greeting. Despite our brief encounter, it was clear to me that Augusta Scott has charisma and charm at a level few people possess.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Brandon Martinez, Co-Founder and CEO of INDMusic, is helping to the change the face of online music. INDMusic has over 300 partners, and has generated over 2.5 billion views on YouTube. By their own estimation, INDMusic is the largest music network on YouTube, with over 100 million monthly views and 2 million subscribers.