Editor’s Note: In honor of 10 years of the IDS program at the iSchool, Alexandra Archambault will be leading you through a 10-episode podcast series. Each episode highlights a different successful startup company from the program.
Alex: This week I called up Danny Goldberg ’15, to discuss his since-sold boxing gear company Golden Gear.
Danny actually started the company back when he was in high school. Pretty cool, I know! We also got to chat about what he’s been up to since he sold the company, which, unsurprisingly, is starting a lot of other businesses.
Finding the Niche
Danny: Golden Gear was a start-up, where we made our own line of boxing and fight equipment. A lot of our equipment was hand-made in Thailand and we sold the boxing equipment throughout the US and the world through numerous gyms, stores, fighters, etc.
I started the business when I was in high school. Growing up, boxing was always my passion. I was working at a gym at the time and I really wanted to be making more money. I realized they were a lot of guys coming into the gym and they all needed equipment, obviously, and there was no store in the gym. So I thought if I could sell equipment, that could be a way I could make some cash.
Originally I stated importing boxing equipment from Thailand and then I would sell it just directly to gyms. On the weekends my parents would drive me around to different gyms. At the time there was just one store that had opened up in Long Island where I grew up and I would sell the equipment to them.
From there it started to grow and over time we started to grow an online presence. We sold the equipment throughout the US and the world.
Enduring Lessons in Creating a Business
Alex: Although Danny had started Golden Gear before he even got to Syracuse University, he still utilized the resources on campus to grow his business and learn how to be a better entrepreneur.
Danny: Through the company’s lifetime we were really like a boutique family business. My family helped with different roles, and we never grew it into a corporation by any means. We had a strong following on social media, we ran a handful of stores, and we outfitted a lot of different professional fighters. We were trying to be all things to all different kinds of people.
Looking back on it now, working with John Liddy in the Sandbox taught me and gave me a very strong foundation with answers to the questions I had on starting a business, and also the right steps to start a business. We already had significant sales prior to my coming to Syracuse, but we probably doubled in revenue from the time I came to Syracuse until I left.
More than anything, I got a strong foundation on starting businesses, solving problems, moving fast, and getting things done. I’ve started numerous businesses since then. I still think back to the initial questions John had asked us in the Sandbox. Key questions like ‘Who do we sell to? What do we do? How do we do it?’ Those types of questions are something that I’m grateful for learning from John.
Embodying the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Alex: After graduating from Syracuse, Danny sold Golden Gear. But that doesn’t mean he traded in his entrepreneurial hat. Instead, he just kept starting new businesses. For some time after Golden Gear, he actually had his own jockstrap business. Since then he has just been coming up with new ideas.
Danny: Never say never, but I don’t see myself working for someone else. Unless my business would be bought or I would sell it.
For the past two years I’ve been running a sourcing agency. I help companies source manufacturers and scale their productions overseas. We essentially help companies manufacture different products overseas and bring them to market in the US and the world.
I’m in the process of starting a furniture company. We acquired an electric sit-and-stand desk that requires no assembly, and we’ll be launching that in early 2019. I felt that the Sandbox was very much like a playground for adults who want to start their own business. And that’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve started school.
While you’re in school, it’s the best time to start a business.
Taking Advantage of Syracuse University Resources and Support
Alex: And of course, I asked Danny for advice. He thinks the best time to start a business is while you’re still in school.
Danny: I’d say especially while you’re in school, it’s the best time to start a business. It could be something small, it doesn’t need to be big. I sold boxing gloves and jock straps; neither of those businesses were going to end world hunger or something like that, nut it gave me a good foundation for running a business today.
School is such a safe environment. It’s so much more acceptable to fail (at running a business) while you’re in school. In school, there’s no real pressure from the outside world if it works out or not.
When you finish school, your life is a bit different. You have bills to pay. And as you get older, it only gets harder: if you end up having a family or things like that, you’ll have a lot more responsibility. And taking those risks becomes harder and harder. But while you’re in school, if your business doesn’t work: you’re still a student. You’re in the same shoes as everyone else.
For starting your own business, for someone who might be scared to do so even if you’re out of school, I say: just swing the bat. There can be downsides, but there are tons of upsides if it works!