Josh is a startup founder who believes that socks can change the world. His argument is pretty convincing…
What did you do before you started this business?
I consider myself a lifetime entrepreneur as I started my first business activities at the age of 7. I have had various ‘ventures’ from eBay powerseller, events, fashion and ecommerce. I studied business management at the University of Birmingham and, after graduating, I was selected for the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.
I have had my share in career ups and downs, which comes with being an entrepreneur. Working at Virgin, I was creating ‘Tinder’ for corporate expenses management, but I didn’t realise how many other much larger organisations were already working on a similar idea. I realised it was a no-go. It was a shame but it led me to Stand4, which has been a great adventure so far – people always need socks!
What inspired you to start up? What got you into crowdfunding/using Indiegogo?
Everyone needs socks, but often they are overlooked as dull and poorly made. My thought was, what if we made them the most important thing we put on every day? What if each pair stood for a different cause from the UN Global Goals? What if every transaction, however big or small, could have a positive impact in the world?
Platforms such as Indiegogo give creators the opportunity to put their ideas out to the whole world to find people who want to support their vision. I can’t explain the feeling of being overfunded! It’s so touching to have support from all over the world, without Indiegogo my story wouldn’t have been able to reach so many people.
For me, the whole process of crowdfunding fits perfectly within the R&D process of creating a product. You can instantly see appetite for the product by the volume of funding whether the public agrees with your concept. Being able to take an agile approach, using feedback and plugging into product development, means we are going to market with the strongest product possible.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
What if ‘socks’ could change the world? Yes, socks! Stand4s are so much more than just ‘another’ pair of socks – they are unisex bamboo socks which are super-soft, antibacterial, and ethically made. Through a cause logo on the ankle, wearers can show what they Stand4 - gender equality, water or education and much more. Buying just one pair of bamboo socks can plant 10 trees, vaccinate three children against measles, power a hospital, or provide a year’s worth of clean water.
How would you describe your business to your Grandma?
First off, for the record, I love my Grandma dearly! However, I don’t expect her to fully understand what I do as I am the first entrepreneur in the family. In her generation, nobody grew-up wanting to start up a business, let alone an internet sock business – it was unheard of.
My family has been in the surveyors and finance industry, so socks and charity is a whole new chapter. When I started, my Grandma really couldn’t get her head around the idea of people using the internet to buy socks and in a day or so they would be delivered to their house/work; it was just “bonkers” to her.
How I would describe my business to my Grandma is, everyone needs socks, right? Not only do we get rid of those annoying sock bugbears (think holey toes and heels) with our designs/tech, each pair helps the wider world by going toward charitable services. Everything from planting new trees to vaccinating children!
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Anywhere and everywhere! When you are trying to do something as crazy as changing the world with socks you need a lot of support. I have some amazing supporters from mentors, family, friends and certainly peers - Stand4’s team is arguably rather big.
I started Stand4 with no experience of fashion or charity. I believe rules are easier to break when you don’t know them. I appreciate that I am not an expert at everything. Luckily, thanks to the latest gadgets and tech, you can access so much information through the internet - having Google at my fingertips is really handy as a founder!
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Stand4 has been fully bootstrapped so far, which has had its positives and negatives. It’s been great as it forces me to think outside the box, especially when it comes to our marketing, and has taught me plenty when it comes to supply chain.
It kick-started me to build new skills as I didn’t have the budget to hire experts. For example, we needed socks so I learnt fashion design; we needed a website, so I learnt how to build a website.
Overall I would say the bootstrap funding experience has been great, I’m proud of what I have achieved based on my newfound knowledge and funding so far. We turned down traditional investment early on, and looking back, it was the right thing to do. I have used all my savings on stock and getting the business to this point and we’re hoping that Indiegogo as a crowdfunding platform will take us to the next stage to continue our growth.