The Transcript Is Auto-Generated And May Contain Grammar And Spelling Errors
Tyler Jorgenson 0:01
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgensen has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz Ninja, entrepreneur radio. Welcome out to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. I’m your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today we have Tom Malloy, you may know Tom as a wide receiver for University of Kentucky, or you may see his payroll and that from Deuce brand, all over athletes and all over people all around the country. Welcome back to the show, Tom. Appreciate it. How are you doing today? Oh, man, I’m so good. And I’m excited to talk to you guys about the journey of the Deuce brand because I think that some people see a brand. And they just assume that it was always sunshine and roses. And easy, right? So let’s wind it all the way back. Tom, when was the moment that you first realized that you were an entrepreneur,
Tom Malloy 1:21
I can tell you, it actually is right around 2008 2009. Actually, me and my business partner have been friends, since around 2000, he had an idea of taking a wristband that had a watch piece in it. And using just the relationships we already had existing through sports, to use that as marketing material. So we naturally just had a lot of friends in the sports world that were coaches, agents and or players. And so once we started to think about our connections, and then you know, having some background and in the mortgage business and running businesses and like knowing the full, the full funnels of how business should be ran, we were able to then take those ideas and marketing ideas and then start to have some success early. So
Tyler Jorgenson 2:08
yeah, we dropped you just dropped like one of the biggest milestone dates in recent business history and then followed it up with a mortgage. So were you one of the like one of the many of us that was in the mortgage world that found 2008 as like a pivot to your next step opportunity.
Tom Malloy 2:26
To be honest with you, I was running parallel. start a business, I think it’s all about cash flow. I can tell you to do a sprint, we’ve never done a fundraiser round. We’re self financed, we own 100% of the business. And so we’re saying that, you know, at the beginning, we you know, I basically had to continue to have revenue coming in for myself in order to live until sales started picking up so even though 2008 hit um, we were able to still have Deuce brand launched in 2009. And to be honest with you, we’re really blessed to start 2010. We went all doors, Brookstone, all the doors, Dick’s Sporting Goods. In a retail setting, the first time we’d ever done anything along with attending some trade shows that had a lot of SAAS and distribution in Japan, in Europe and South America as well. So how diverse are we running? Yeah, so yeah, we went zero to seven figures in the first year, from just starting with a product. So yeah, we’re blessed again, with some distribution right out the gate. That’s huge. So
Tyler Jorgenson 3:27
you know, you, you come up you and you and Gary come up with the idea for the brand, you start making some product, you know, it’s apparel, and you use your connections, you start getting some momentum, what was the first major obstacle that you guys faced? And how do you overcome it,
Tom Malloy 3:42
I think the first obstacle that we faced was, was actually the distribution. Um, we actually had never had to deal with QC or quality control on a product. So the first name product was a silicone wristband with a timepiece. And so when we first brought in our initial inventory to get to the retailers that were supporting us, we actually QC that with a team here in San Diego, which means that we actually made sure that each watch physically worked. We actually had to backtrack, once we had a, you know, an order of over 10,000 units, that we knew that it was taking too much time to do here in San Diego, that we could actually do that with our manufacturer. So we actually had a lot of work to do. So actually, Gary had a chance to go back to China in order to set up a QC process that once the manufacturer is done, it went to a different facility, and it was QC and then was packaged. So I would say that’s the biggest thing when you’re working with any type of product is making sure that it’s ready to go once it’s landed. Because because we’re a small team. At the end of the day, that’s we’re not in the business of quality control lean so that the process of doing that but more of like selling quality products. So making sure out the gate that once it’s produced that anything that’s coming into our fulfillment center that it is quality product Because that’s the, that’s the standard that we want to set with our customers. Well, I
Tyler Jorgenson 5:04
think that’s huge. Like, if your goal is to build a big brand, right, then you’ve got to have happy customers. And if the products are coming out and they’re, you know, they’re not meeting your quality, then it’s a bad start. So I think that’s, that’s really great advice to early entrepreneurs is to find ways to make sure you have quality control, good consistency of product, I can tell you some more stories of having to go through those trials on some of our brands, but it’s, it’s insane. What you guys, so right out the gate 07 figures your first year, you guys started getting momentum? What was the thing that you realized, like, really soon? I don’t know how to do this. And how’d you guys like figure out how to close that learning gap?
Tom Malloy 5:42
Yeah, I think the other piece with working with retailers is that you don’t understand is that they actually have net net payments. So not only do you have to make payments to manufacturers, maybe beforehand, most manufacturers want to eliminate their risks. So they, they don’t give you net terms. And so you might have to pay for a product upfront, ship it, and then it gets to a retailer. And then they might have a net term of 1530, up to 60 days, we’ve worked with target that has a net 60 or Dick’s Sporting Goods, I haven’t that 60. And, you know, with that we’re not a bank, and so on, you know, with that, that means that you actually are putting up money for let’s call it 60 to 90 days that is tied up until you get paid. So I would have to say, you know, we actually, you know, again, thank God, we had the ability to have different partners that we knew. And that’s also within, you know, the financial industry where it wasn’t using a traditional bank, but we did have some bridge loans that we did. So it wasn’t using factoring companies or traditional bank, but we had friends and family that would actually give us you know, some net terms in order to get the product over. And then we were able to fill those. So I’d say that’s the Yeah, so I said, that’s the biggest thing. And from 2010, when we really were rolling to now, there are some, I would say there’s been some major advances in ways for smaller companies in order to get those net terms that weren’t around back in the day. And so those are some hurdles that we overcame, and, you know, a retailer won’t bring you on, if they think that you can’t make those terms. I mean, this is the bottom line, you might not be ready to play in the big leagues until you’re able to do that. So we’re able to navigate that. But that was again, a blessing that we had, that were able to help us out.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:21
Yeah. And so you guys started, I mean, really, from 2010 to 2016, you were retail focused, where a lot of brands that are starting to they’re starting with a dip, you know, in e commerce focus first and then moving towards digital. So that gives them potentially some cash flow and some logistics that they can leverage to try to build into that retail space and wholesale space. You know, as you guys what made you guys finally make the move in 2016, to be able to expand from from b2b and wholesale into going direct to consumer.
Tom Malloy 7:54
Yeah, I can tell you back in 2010 e commerce was really in the infancy stage, people were doing it. And you know, we currently use Shopify. But back in the day, there was a barrier to entry. And I was actually building a site that had a that had a cart feature. I’ll tell you right now, and just being honest, we paid about 20,000 to have a site made, that’s a lot to get started when you don’t know what that will generate. But once it was up and running, it was beneficial. But when we started we went to trade shows that was how brands started, you heard of brands Getting Started through going to here in San Diego was called Asr, but action sports retailer are going to Vegas to a magic, you know, and hitting it big where they found a couple retailers to support them. So that was the journey back then. And then we can tell you that we were doing it in parallel retail and e commerce. But e commerce was not our focus again, retail was we did have some licensing that we actually added to expand our footprint, we had about 40 College licenses. We also had an NBA license for three years. But really what happened is around 2015 is the holiday season, we were working with a distributor, and we had a great sell through through Sports Authority. And once the holidays hit, they put in a holiday order. We delivered it but then Sports Authority went bankrupt. So as I mentioned, we’re self financed. We’ve never done around fundraising. So that meant that we were actually stuck with a lot of holiday inventory. Bridge loans do I can tell you it was a hard period for for deuce.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:24
So you guys had actually delivered the product when they went bankrupt. Like Were you able to at least get the product back?
Tom Malloy 9:31
We send it to a distributor who then then told us that Sports Authority is not taking it but that we are still responsible for it. So we don’t
Tyler Jorgenson 9:41
know where to go like there were brands that got stuck with products sitting you know, that had already been delivered and that that’s an extra so how did you guys navigate that’s a big deal, right? Yeah, big. Got the whole holiday order together. It’s all sitting at your distributor. You guys survived. Would You Do?
Unknown Speaker 9:56
Yeah, we did. We did. I think um, you know, we We took the hit, I say we took it on the chin. And with that we had a lot of hard conversations with your partners that were helping us finance. But you know, we we believed in the vision and our brand, that, you know, we’ve we’ve had a lot of success. And we know that there’s traction. And so the one thing that we discussed internally is that we would never be put into this position again, on depending on a retailer, we can’t, we have to depend on ourselves to generate the revenue for our company to stand. So at that point, to be honest with you, it was I think, early 2016, it must be like on a weekend in January, I told you that we had a site built in any time in, you know, before 2016, we’d have to call the company that built our site in order to make the tweaks on it, hey, we need a new banner, they would do it is it’s old. That’s just how it was done. Yeah, that was, yeah, we so on a weekend, actually, I signed up for Shopify, built a site in about eight hours, and switched the domains that we were live, we’re up and running. And from there, we just became students of the game. We all learn we’re still doing everything in house. You know, we’ve hit over seven figures annually on the Shopify platform. And with that, you know, we haven’t looked back knowing that, like we, you know, we control our own destiny at that point. So, so yeah, it’s been a good run. And so I would say the the mix went from like a 9010, retail to e commerce to flipping that to about like, 8515 words 85% ecommerce into about a 15%. Retail.
Tyler Jorgenson 11:29
Wow, that’s a big shift. And so, I mean, do you what is your opinion on the future of retail,
Tom Malloy 11:35
it’s, I would say, the future retail, it’s an experience, um, I can tell you that, you know, my household me and my wife, we still like to go around to the mall, I still as a, you know, owner of a brand I like to see what brands are in stores, I like to see how their merchandise, I like to see what’s new. And and maybe there’s, you know, videos and displays. Now, you know, back in the day, you know, we’ve had great footprints in stores, we’ve had floor displays, you know, mannequins with our, you know, products at the front of the doors. So I believe retail is still going to be an important place. Um, I think with that, it’s going to be different, because resellers are going to be dependent on brands selling through so you know, using our customers to continue to drive traffic to retailers. So I would say it’s still a piece of, you know, like this omni channel presence for a brand, I would say, like, I’d say like an authority, like once a brand still is in retail, like people recognize that, oh, I saw that brand in this store. Oh, that’s great that, you know, like, a lot of people are looking for newer brands, in retailers, they’re not looking for, you know, the, they will support new brands, I guess I should put it that way. So instead of just the traditional brands, Nike, Adidas, they want to see fresh gear, they want to see brands that like, you know, the, you know, we’re a basketball niche, that’s, that’s where we are, they want to see the young Hooper’s wearing gear that they can that they saw on Instagram or Tiktok. So, so we’re actually excited about where we are on our e commerce journey, knowing that we can actually continue to expand on the retail once those opportunities come up.
Tyler Jorgenson 13:11
So yeah, that’s huge. Man, I think I think I totally agree with you in that retail is still going to be valuable, right? I don’t I don’t believe that retail is dead. I think it has to evolve big time. And I think it’s sad seeing some of these some of these retailers that I think could have evolved and been a really big leader in their niches instead close. But I think it just leaves more opportunity for those that are willing to evolve to stay alive and thrive. And be a platform and a location for new brands to launch and scale. I think that’s really cool. You guys have you have some cool stuff coming down the pipe on over at Deuce brand. You’ve got a new partner coming on board. Tell us about that. And how you guys just make that expansion?
Unknown Speaker 13:53
Yeah, actually, we’re really excited. So yummy. My business partner Garrett, he’s been working with. His name’s Phil handy. He’s actually been a professional basketball player. He actually was with LeBron and Kyrie and Cleveland, kawhi and Toronto. He was with la last year when they want it. And he’s still a current. He’s a bench assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. He actually has his own brand that we’ve actually put under the umbrella of Deuce brand and it’s called Be your own goat go supportive. But you know, his thing is that make the most of your your daily grind be the best you you can be so be your own goat. You know, with that it’s a basketball apparel brand. And, you know, since we’ve been working with him over the last two years, we just developed a great relationship and I think we have the same goals the same mindset, you know, with this brand word underdog mentality brand, knowing that, you know, we’re having to grind for everything that we get, and that with with him, he he’s he supported us, you know, from the beginning, was introduced through Kyrie to our brand since Kyrie has been rockin our our wristbands on court for he’s been But, you know, with Phil, we, we actually have a new collections dropping throughout the year. But with him becoming one of our partners, we’re just excited to, you know, see where this leads, knowing that he has a lot of different relationships that throughout the basketball community where Deuce can actually, you know, be a part of those, if those are on court, you know, summer camps, where he’s with the Mamba Sports Academy, or it could be you know, to be honest with you, we actually had 30,000 wristbands placed in footlocker Australia, of be your own goat this last holiday season. So these are opening up new doors and new relationships that Phil can bring to the table.
Tyler Jorgenson 15:37
That’s awesome. And I think, you know, it’s fascinating that even though you and you and Gary have been together and building this business together since 2010, you’re still open to strategic partnerships and new partnerships that make sense for the brand. That shows a lot of teachability a lot of humility and willingness to do that. What, as you and Gary have built, right for the first, whatever, it’s been one man 19 21 years since you’ve been doing this, how have you as a team been able to find, like a balance between the partnership like of because by I’m sure that your roles in the hats that you’ve had to wear have evolved a ton in that timeline?
Tom Malloy 16:16
Yeah, great question. So actually, I met Gary back in 1998, we both walked on at university Kentucky, we both had separate journeys, but we both ended up in San Diego around 2008. Deuce brands started ended 2009. But you know, you’re right. Um, as entrepreneurs, we have different skill sets that we bring to the table, Gary handles the the manufacturing, the marketing, you know, working with our influencers, and a lot of the relationships on that side, I’ve actually just taken the reins for the ecommerce platform, and that tech stack, and so, you know, also running the paid media, and that includes, you know, Facebook, Instagram, Google, tick tock. And so, we actually have two different parts of the business that, you know, we need both, right, so at the end of the day, you know, we we’ve been able to use our strengths, and then I have weaknesses and same with him to where we’ll actually be able to, you know, have the company continue to, to evolve and know what, what we can do what we can’t do by the constant communication we’ve had throughout that. So well, that’s good, no, no,
Tyler Jorgenson 17:23
no brawls or fist fights, you guys have been able to work through everything,
Tom Malloy 17:27
I would tell you, if there was to be honest with you, you know, the 10 years of business, you know, even in the dark times, you know, we’ve just sat back and kind of looked at the milestones that we’ve hit, um, you know, sometimes we thought we were down and out, we might get a big deal. Um, yeah, I can also tell you that we’ve worked with AAU sports, which you know, has a million amateur participants, and, you know, they’ll come in with a custom, you know, part of our business as well as a custom portfolio where they’ll put in a X amount of a big, you know, custom bag order where that was unexpected, where it carried do so that next season, so, even when we thought is bad, you know, we’ve you know, thank God that we’ve had the ability to continue to move forward with different, you know, different orders coming through.
Tyler Jorgenson 18:07
Yeah, that’s huge. What, what are some of the creative ways that you guys have had to find to like, bridge the leaner times? or, or, you know, solve those kind of cash flow problems?
Tom Malloy 18:17
Yeah, I think, um, you know, with being under fire, I think as an entrepreneur, you start to be creative in the ways that you bring in revenue. It’s very important, right? I mean, as you can tell, with our business switching in 2016, from a retail to e commerce, that’s a different strategy, totally different strategy, totally different distribution method. Um, you know, we’ve actually taking the skills that we’ve learned, and that could come from sourcing that could come from the financing, you know, the Shopify knowledge, the email knowledge through klaviyo SMS marketing. One is that we’ve actually, you know, taken on a company that does underwear an underwear category, it’s a larger company, not gonna say the name but they actually great friends of ours, but we help them start their e commerce along with still run their email marketing, which is a seven, the email alone is just a seven figure business for them. We also have a large custom portfolio. So you know, in the basketball niche if you went to any gym across the country or court, you know, people were in wristbands, they love them. So actually, we we have a big portfolio of custom customizable wristbands, we have four different bands, you can customize that, that has been a great revenue generated for us. And then we also again, I’ve actually worked with Phil on his, his brand, and we also run another basketball influencers, website as well. So it helped him build his brand onto YouTube personality. And so we’ve generated a couple of different revenue streams that are to continue to build up the business that we can actually then take that money and then push that back in to do sprint. So we take all of that and just push that back in the brain. How are
Tyler Jorgenson 19:57
you guys innovating after this much time in the apparent And that sort of space I mean, there’s only so many ways you can have a peace sign do sign, right so how are you guys staying creative?
Tom Malloy 20:08
Yeah, I think for us you know we like to take a look and see what what players have in their bank bags and or what are they wearing to their games? What our athletes were an on and off the court. I can tell you right now we’ve been blessed with a lot of NBA players were in our product walking into the games. I don’t know if you’ve just followed either NBA teams or players. A real big thing right now is in walking into the game. So it shows them behind the scenes walking in shows what gear they’re wearing, you know from us, just really our niche be in basketball, you know, we know that people like tracksuits, we have shorts we you know, the wristband so you know, what we’ve been fortunate able to do is that if somebody you know like I mentioned we customize wristband, so from Kyrie Irving to a Bradley Beal, Jason Tatum, Katy, whatever it might be, we might make these custom wristbands, send a package of our all of our apparel, and organically our brand showing up once they’re walking into these games. You know, how we innovate to be honest with you, we definitely go overseas to our factories, check them out, check out what new fabric there is, um, you know, and I think for us, we like to, again, find products that you can wear on and off the court, or even practicing. So with that, we do like to have that the casual wear, but also, you know, be really comfortable in what you’re wearing, too. So I think it kind of fits right now with what’s going on in COVID. You know, attracts it’s been really popular, because you know, people haven’t had to go the office, but even if you do go the office, you’re still looking good.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:40
Yeah, I got you. So you guys are like the men’s basketball line of Lulu lemon for for women’s yoga pants. Right? Like, yeah. Enough off the court. Yeah. Yeah. Love it. What you know, so you guys, you and Gary as well, as, you know, Phil, that are coming. It’s coming in. You’re all athletes. You’ve all grown up playing team sports? How What did you learn from team sports that you’ve applied into how you’ve worked with your team? Yeah, that’s
Tom Malloy 22:10
a that’s a great question. So, you know, growing up, I think with sports, you know, I had said that I’ve been an underdog as well, even though you know, I’ve been blessed to be able to play football at a college level, you know, I’ve had to fight for everything. So I think, you know, I mean, the two a days, the the hot summers, the the weight rooms, the running, you know, just teaches you drive, you know, I think there’s still a lot of hunger in there, even the the success that you might have, you know, there’s another level, I think the what you can see once you start working with different athletes is that these different levels are are attainable, but it takes a lot of work to get there. So I think that’s what we’ve taken with Deuce is like, knowing that like, you know, we like to write down our successes, take a look at those knowing that, hey, you know, there’s other companies that are doing three times what we’re doing, but how did they get there. So, you know, we’re not reinventing the wheel. And I think that’s the same in athletics, right? I mean, the repetition is the piece. So we try to continue like to start at a ground level, knowing that we can’t get to the championship overnight, but knowing that like, the the days that we continue to grind, and that same with sports, the more routes that you’ve run, the weight room that you hit, you know, twice a day, the running that all of a sudden, those start to pick up speed, and it starts to continue to carry over to the next year. So we’ve seen that momentum continue to carry on since 2016. So we’re really excited what the next couple of years have in store for us and, you know, the partnerships and you know, the next levels that we hit, that’s huge. I’m
Tyler Jorgenson 23:40
a big fan of that the concept of, you know, the two days, right, where I think every entrepreneur, if you clean to the certainty of the nine to five, right, it’s never going to be a fit, you got to be willing to you know, put the kids down hit second shift right and get get the next round of work completed. Because if you want to win it’s up to you know that not not on anyone else. And you guys took that responsibility by taking care of control of your website taking control of the brand quality control, like it’s clear that’s in your guys’s DNA and in your makeup. It’s really neat what you know as as we’re getting here towards the end of the interview. First of all, I really hope everyone goes checks out do Spratt if you’re not already follow him on Instagram, they’re on Instagram as Deuce brand and that Deuce brand calm. I’m loving the story, man. What is one big piece of advice you’d give entrepreneurs who are in the maybe in the apparel space that are just getting started?
Tom Malloy 24:33
I would have to just say just just start it you’re never gonna be big enough. But if you don’t start like if you if you plan too much, like I can tell you that we we never wrote a business plan we just started doing right now. Thank you. I’m a big fan of the alchemist. You know, he had to start his journey. Yeah, like if he didn’t start his journey. And you know, there’s bumps along the way or he was stopped and it kind of like your mindset shifts and you’re like, Well, that’s it. Forget about it. But like, you need to keep progressing, knowing that like, this isn’t a six month journey, I can tell you that like, now we’re hitting 10 years, I thought we’d be in a totally different space, but the whole landscape has changed. So it’s like you got to one is like you’ve got to start. But I think the second thing is that you have to be a student of the game. Um, you know, with things changing, you know, entrepreneurs want to help each other, you know, I’m open, you know, if anybody wants to hit me up, you know, feel free. You can find me on LinkedIn, you know, Tom Malloy, but um, you know, people like to share things, there’s no secrets, you know, there’s a lot of free education. You know, even if you probably hit up Tyler, he’d be like, Hey, thanks for reaching out. Like, I think that’s a great thing. So like, once you do start and you do hit a roadblock, more than likely, which 100% somebody else has hit that roadblock? So how do you get through that and power through, um, you know, I think if you know that you’re not the only one facing challenges because you know, I G or Tiktok show a lot of success. They don’t show the hard days, but like no, knowing that if you can break through those, you know, the hardships that it actually leads to some positive things and you reflect on those, you continue to grow.
Tyler Jorgenson 26:07
I love that. Now, I’m a huge believer in lifestyle design, and that business is we build businesses so that we can live the life that we want. First of all, congratulations, you just had your second kid like appreciate that thank you, I’ve hours ago or something. Super congratulations. So this might be a little bit of a tighter question for you. But I always ask this question What’s one item on your personal non professional bucket list that you’re going to accomplish in the next 12 months?
Tom Malloy 26:35
To be honest with you now that we are working remote even associate with my team here don’t get Don’t get me wrong. My wife’s from Brazil So actually we want to get down in Brazil for about 30 days so if we can get there after the holiday season so you know, the holiday season ends around the 15th or 20th of December before Christmas and then take about three or four weeks to take our new daughter down there to introduce her the family that’d be great. So that’s a goal that we’re we’re trying to get to that’s a great goal. Absolutely
Tyler Jorgenson 27:03
love that. Everyone. Tom thank you so much for coming out on the show all my businesses wherever you are, wherever you’re listening, watching or tuning in, it’s your turn to go out and do something. Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the real secrets are shared, go to biz ninja.com slash VIP and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And our one last favor. If this episode was meaningful to you, please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneur so they can grow along with us is ninjas. It’s your turn to go out and do something