A Startup With A Goal To Sell 1 Million Shoes And Donate 5 Million Books


PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF (ANY CO-FOUNDERS) AND YOUR STARTUP?

Mike Todd – Founder/Reader

I am a 20-year veteran of shoes and once British Royal Naval Submariner. I am a self-confessed bookworm who has turned his last issued pair of deck sandals into a noble cause by launching the Twodeck Brand with the TD001 on 1 July 2017.

My ambitious goal is to sell one million pairs of sandals and donate five million books delivered to Room to Read Australia in the next seven years.

Room to Read Australia is a not-for-profit charity focused on girls’ education and children’s literacy in Asia and Africa.

HOW DID YOU GO FROM IDEA, TO MVP AND LAUNCH?

The last pair of sandals I was issued with, followed me around from flat-to-flat and house-to-house. They crossed continents in shipping containers and twice went into the skip only to be retrieved! It took a Gen-Y contracted IT specialist and a patient wife to give me the push to turn an idea into a real business.

Jamie Wilson of Deck Hand IT helped with the creation of the site, and I pulled on as many industry experts as I could muster to help me find a suitable factory. I also spent six months learning how to craft the sandal at a local shoemaking school. Under the tutelage of Darren Bischoff I turned my hand at sandal making. Next stop Portugal and real-life factory floor creativity.

My two young children were my anchor as I used the Twodeck Brand launch as an excuse that they needed to read more and helped halt the march of devices into their every day activity. When they realized that having a book is, to those in the under developed world, a treat and not a right, they did their bit in making sure that reading was part of their lives. And this, regardless of the brands success (or not) is my real win.

WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE DURING THIS PERIOD AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Keeping costs from escalating is an ongoing challenge. When you make a physical product, there is always a temptation to continually develop and tinker.

Our factory is in Portugal so being on-site at the right time was crucial. This of course costs money, so it was important to do as much as possible in my two week trips to Portugal with my shoe agent (my angel) as is possible… often made harder when you have to drink great food and wine every night making it a herculean effort to start the day.

DURING THIS JOURNEY TO BUILD AND LAUNCH YOUR STARTUP WHAT IS ONE THING YOU LOOK BACK ON WITH A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT?

Portugal – Portugal – Portugal.

Speaking stilted English and a little Portuguese we managed to recreate the sandal that I last wore some 30 years ago. So much was the similarity, that I clicked my big toe through the holes in the leather on the sandal just like I used to, as soon as I tried them on.

Like a smell that can transport you back in time, so can muscle memory and for one brief moment I was back on the sonar working at 300 meters below the sea…

OFFER US ONE INSIGHT, TIP, MARKETING STRATEGY OR GROWTH HACK THAT HAS WORKED REALLY WELL FOR YOU AND YOUR STARTUP?

My tip, find a Gen Y to make sense of the online world!

I thought I knew a lot – but my skills were at walking pace in comparison to the pace of innovation and change that the internet offers.

For example, knitting together your accounting system and your inventory system using third party applications is easy to say – but a real task to achieve. As a business with inventory, knowing that a size 6 in yellow is on the shelf when you check your warehouse, will save time and make for a happy customer when you respond straight away.

Back orders are slack-orders and will never stimulate the modern consumer’s demand for on-time every-time delivery.

HOW IS YOUR STARTUP GOING AND WHAT DO YOU AIM TO ACHIEVE IN THE NEXT 3, 6, 12 MONTHS?

We are five months in and our proof of concept is tracking well. One retailer in Melbourne stocks TD001s, we have a number of online customers and an agent about to start reselling in NSW. We are also confident of placement in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand for the Summer Season 2018 (with delivery May 2018.)

Our goal is simple – 1 million pairs sold in 7 years and 5 million books donated.

Our aim is also to have some fun – read a lot more and help at the very least, those not as blessed to #walkthesamepath.

#walkthesamepath is our mantra. However much we have different opinions, beliefs and prejudices, we ask only that those with a good and privileged life, a life of love, safety and trust, to acknowledge that we do so because of luck rather than judgement. At Twodeck we agree and promote that everyone, at the bare minimum, should be able to #walkthesamepath.

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