The entrepreneurial journey is about creating your own destiny by investing time, money, and effort into something you believe in. Through this process, a brand is built, which ultimately determines the trajectory and extent of your company’s impact.
If anyone knows how to craft and lead a global brand, it’s Daymond John – the world-renowned FUBU Founder, Shark Tank Investor, and serial entrepreneur who has counseled hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs on the hit ABC television.
Daymond started his entrepreneurial journey when he created the fashion label FUBU, growing the brand from an initial $40 investment into a $6-billion dollar company. He has since authored three books on entrpreneurship, the most recent of which – The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage – catapulted to The New York Times best seller list. In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Daymond a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, a position focused on promoting the power and importance of entrepreneurship on a global scale. Most recently, Daymond launched the new coworking space, blueprint+co, created for like-minded creative executives to bridge the gap between innovators and corporations.
IVY Magazine sat down with Daymond to discuss what it takes to shine in investor meetings, spend your money wisely, and create a coveted brand.
What advice would you give to somebody about to pitch to their dream investor to be successful?
Know every single thing about that target. What are their needs? Are you a strategic aspect to them? Do they learn off of you? Do you make them feel young and sexy? Do they think that it’s saving the planet? What is their need? Does it compliment something they currently have in their portfolio?You know a lot of people like to pitch to number one and two in the market. I want to go pitch Nike, I want to go pitch so forth. You don’t want to pitch them, you want to pitch number twenty who wants to be number one cuz number twenty is sucking
You know, a lot of people like to pitch to number one and number two in the market. “I want to go pitch Nike, I want to go pitch so and so.” You don’t want to pitch them, you want to pitch number twenty — who wants to be number one, because number twenty is sucking wind. So, you find out what’s keeping that person up at night.
Be infectious. Be energetic. Real people that are going to succeed regardless of pitching you – they’re just telling you the story. You want to get on the ride? That’s up to you. That train is gone as far as they’re concerned. You have to make them feel like, “I can’t miss this train.” You have to have a passion or twinkle in your eye that is so bright, they know you’ll wake up for the rest of your life every single day as if going to work is like opening a Christmas present. Then show them how they’re going to make money.
When you’re looking to invest in a company, what are the key things you look for?
Initially, I’m going to need to hear the story first. Where do you come from? Then I want to look at the numbers. Are the margins straight? Where is your form of distribution? The pipeline and everything else like that. Is there scalability? What’s in it and why are you developing the brand?And this is the closing part: it’s the person, always the person. The first couple of stats and numbers give me if I’m interested and then when I’m interested, I go “alright, do I like this person?”
And this is the closing part: it’s the person, always the person. The first couple of stats and numbers show me if I’m interested, and then when I’m interested, I go: “Alright, do I like this person?”
You want to look at someone you want to invest in, someone you’re going to maybe speak to for the next 20 years. Someone that – God forbid this business does not go well – then we’re going to do something else together, because we learned how each other works and we value each other’s position.
How do you define a brand?
Well a brand, from my perspective, is that something that somebody recognizes or asks for by its name, and there is a promise that brand delivers on.
I believe there are four different things out there:
1) An item. Water is an item. You can get it anywhere, any aspect of it.
2) A label. You go to a store, you don’t see the one you like, but you see bottled water in there and there’s a label on it.
3) A brand. This is Poland Spring. It’s a brand. You ask for it by name, whatever the case is.
4) Then, if you’re lucky, you can become a lifestyle. Whatever that lifestyle is. Apple is a lifestyle, Nike is a lifestyle. Even Xerox is a lifestyle, to a certain point, because they’re established. Coca-Cola is a lifestyle.
How do you become a global brand? It’s all a part of the process. What is the culture that you have? And who are you convincing it’s good for? And how – when you really come up to your test – how is it being translated to the generation coming up behind it who didn’t have the first exposure to it?
As a company grows, how do you maintain your brand’s authenticity?
Plenty of brands evolve and plenty of brands stay the same. Nike is exactly what they believe they are: “Just Do It.” Fubu, if you go to Korea, is a skate brand. Listerine started off as something to remove polish off of floors, right? It moved over to something else. You know they created something? They came up with the first campaign saying, “stop chronic halitosis” – before people knew what that was.
There are many brands that shift and they shake because new customers find them. It all depends on how the new customer finds them, and what’s the purpose of it.
What do you think makes a great brand?
There are a couple of components to it.
1) The DNA is strong, and it’s been there from Day 1. I think that the ambassadors are not paid for. They are apostles and they go out there and spread the word and you don’t have to pay for it necessarily.
2) The ambassadors are not paid for. They are apostles – they go out there and spread the word, and you don’t have to pay for it.
3) There’s a promise that you deliver on. It’s a quality you deliver, and it depends on the brand. No Frills is a brand. Our parents used to go there and say. “Listen, boy, beans are the same. I don’t give a shit. White label, get that white label.” That’s it. Their thing was, “I don’t spend money on that brand.” Brands can be nasty, you know? But it’s still a brand, right? Everybody believes a brand is supposed to be something glamorous. Old Dirty Bastard was an old, dirty bastard, right? He’s a brand and he delivered on that promise.