Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sporting goods but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Caleb Ulffers, Co-Founder & CEO of Haven Athletic, located in Omaha, NE, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Haven Athletic designs and manufactures organized bags for high-performance athletes. We designed them ourselves out of a need to be more focused in the gym and less stressed about messy or missing gear. We designed it for athletes that CrossFit (like myself) and have found athletes in all sports, including a bunch of professional athletes across the NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and others, we also love the focus our product brings to their workouts.
Tell us about yourself
So this started with me. I was digging around in my gym bag, and I couldn't find my gear, emptied it out and was so frustrated by the time I found my headphones that I didn't want to work out. Gym bags suck. They've been the same since the 80s. They're messy and often get in the way and cause stress and anxiety around missing or messy gear. Today's athletes, whether pro or just very committed, have evolved and use all sorts of gear like percussion massagers, neuromuscular stimulators, and air-powered recovered boots. Gear evolved, but bags haven't.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Bootstrapping the company through presales to over $1.25M in revenue. We entered this business having no idea how to make a physical good. We continually put one foot in front of the other to figure it out.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The early days of managing finances are very hard. When you know your margins aren't the best, or you have to take some money that's not at a great rate. When you're building on faith instead of data, starting a company is the hardest thing I've ever done. If you really believe in it, you have to wake up every day and tell yourself that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Pick something you love or are passionate about. If you're the ideal customer, it will make product development and marketing easier because you inherently know what works. This doesn't replace the need for customer research, but it is a very helpful foundation.
- Just start. You don't have to be all in right away. It doesn't have to be the perfect idea.
- Learn from everyone. Ask stupid questions. Pretend you don't know the answer to get someone's full thoughts on a subject. You never know where the next gem of advice will come from, and I want to hear everything from someone else's point of view.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.