Q&A with Randy Goldberg, co-founder of Bombas Socks

REUTERS/Courtesy of Bombas Socks

This week, after successfully raising $140,000 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, Bombas Socks shipped the first of their product to customers. Bombas, the Warby Parker or TOMS Shoes of socks, is based on a simple idea: one pair purchased equals one pair donated. In this case, Bombas donates to homeless shelters that are in massive need of socks.

We caught up with Randy Goldberg over email who, along with David Heath, founded Bombas Socks. We asked him about running a successful crowdfunding campaign, bringing a product to market and conscious consumerism.

First off, tell us about how the Bombas idea – one pair purchased for one pair donated – came about? It seems so straightforward, I’m a little shocked no one else had tried it.

The idea for the company came from a quote we saw in 2010. The Salvation Army was doing a massive sock drive on Facebook with Hanes, and they were quoted saying “socks are oftentimes the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.” That stuck with us. Socks went from an afterthought to something we thought about all the time. We had never thought about the fact that no one donates socks–they just wear through them and throw them out. It’s also rare that someone in need has a chance to change their socks. So we quickly realized the one-for-one model popularized by Tom’s Shoes really made sense for socks.

Do you have any tips or lessons you learned about running a crowdfunding campaign? Especially with Indiegogo? Did your plan (incentives, etc.) going into it change over time as donations came in?

Q & A with Joel Jackson, founder of Mobius Motors

In February, Global Post profiled an interesting startup in Africa called Mobius Motors that is working to manufacture affordable ($6,000) cars designed specifically for Africans.

By simplifying the designs through the elimination of non-essential parts like power steering and air conditioning, the team at Mobius is able to drastically reduce the cost of the vehicle, which they hope will help small business owners in need of affordable transportation. Reuters reached Mobius founder and CEO Joel Jackson over email to ask him about his plans for the car company and some of the challenges he foresees.

Reuters: First can you tell me briefly how Mobius came about? I understand you were working in Africa when you had the idea?

Q&A with cyber crime expert Tim Francis

Timothy C. Francis is Second Vice President for Travelers Bond & Financial Products in Hartford, CT. Francis leads Travelers’ Business Insurance Management and Professional Liability initiatives and serves as Enterprise lead for Cyber Insurance. Reuters spoke with him about what small businesses need to know about cyber crime. 


The bazaar, the oldest newest idea for small businesses

In an FT column today Dave Eggers pines for the days when schools taught metal and woodworking. “It doesn’t all have to be keyboards and screens, does it?” he asks.

It certainly doesn’t.

Many small business in the U.S. are  becoming part of a new wave of small-scale and super premium manufacturing. There’s any number of examples to look at, like the plumbing parts manufacturing in Brooklyn, the artisanal chocolate makers and the distillers in Boston.

There’s also no shortage of stories focusing on Brooklyn’s manufacturing boom. Turns out we are making things with our hands even if schools don’t teach us how anymore.

Love at first byte: Tech co-founders meet through dating sites






Gina Lujan did not meet her Hacker Lab co-founders the usual way. They were not
childhood friends. They did not launch their business from their Harvard dorm
room, or at incubators like Y Combinator or TechStars.

Lujan first met Charles Blas and Eric Ullrich after they responded to her personal ad
on Craigslist that read: “seeking all hackers and enthusiasts – where are you?”

“I got a few weird responses,” admitted Lujan, but she also hooked up with Blas, a
hacker who works for a local security company. “It was like founder at first site. The
minute we met each other we said let’s do this.”

On time: Q&A with Hodinkee founder Benjamin Clymer

At the most recent Pop Up Flea, a temporary Americana brand and menswear bazaar in New York City, one unexpected vendor stood out. Not only was the sheer size of its crowd impressive, but it wasn’t even a traditional retail store. The popular booth featured the watch blog Hodinkee—pronounced ho-dinkey—founded by former UBS consultant Ben Clymer.

Clymer was there to sell vintage watches, owned by others, as part of a larger marketing effort that he hopes will make Hodinkee the online destination for all things watch. So far, the strategy seems to be working. Clymer says Hodinkee gets about 300,000 unique visitors a month from more than 50 countries. Traffic to the site doubled in 2011 and grew 120 percent in 2012.

Hodinkee already has partnerships with online retailers Gilt, Park & Bond and Club Monaco. Clymer helps those outlets select watches to sell on their sites. John Mayer is a regular contributor to Hodinkee and Clymer is in talks to launch a web series on Jay-Z’s Life + Times YouTube channel. Clymer says there are currently no plans for a retail operation, but Hodinkee continues to add new products, including straps, pouches and ties to its online store.

Small businesses face holiday expense filing crunch

While many of us are making merry, it’s hardly the most wonderful time of the year for the accounting staffs at many small businesses.

A rush by employees to submit their expense claims so they can be reimbursed before the holidays, makes today the busiest expense-filing day of the year, according to data from online accounting services firm Concur (NASDAQ: CNQR).

On this day U.S. small businesses will process more than twice as many expense reports as the daily average. That’s a lot of unhappy accountants.

Entrepreneur, VC offers shortcuts to help startups be more successful

Image courtesy of Mark Hopkins.

Suggesting there are shortcuts entrepreneurs can take to improve their chances of success would appear to refute Malcolm Gladwell’s popular “10,000 hours” theory.

But instead of picking a fight with the “Outliers” author, entrepreneur and fund manager Mark Hopkins is just trying to be provocative to get people to pick up his own book: “Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap For An Exceptional Career”.

“I’m not at all refuting Gladwell’s 10,000 hours,” confessed Hopkins, 53, who actually references Gladwell in the book. “The shortcut is really a way to get people to pick up the book and for me to say: ’If you do these things then you have a good shot at it, but it’s going to be a lot of work.’”

Jim Koch on owning your own business

In the latest episode of Impact Players, Robert Wolf interviews Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, the brewer of Sam Adams beer. The two discuss entrepreneurship, the happiness that comes from owning your own business, and of course… beer.

Small business owners “nervous” about looming fiscal cliff

Eric Blinderman, who had to shut down his two upscale New York restaurants for a week in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, said the approaching fiscal cliff could mean a “double whammy” for his business heading into the busy holiday season.

With a package of $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to come into effect on January 1 if President Obama and Congress fail to agree on an extension or reach an alternate deal, small business owners like Blinderman will be hit with additional costs that could seriously impact their bottom line and ability to grow.

“That uncertainty is what leaves me so nervous,” said Blinderman, who operates two restaurants, both named Mas, in Manhattan’s affluent West Village that employ about 100 people.