His company threadless sells more than 100,000 T-shirts a month.
Threadless uses the power of crowdsourcing to sell over 100,00 t-shirts a month, Talk about dropping out of college to run a multi-million dollar company.
To think that nine years ago, Jake was living in a small apratment and submitting his t-shirt design to an online contest, something that he did not think would blow up this much, he did not even know the business model.
How are you doing Jake?
Doing well, working from home today, writing a chapter for the Threadless book coming out next year.
What are your plans for the weekend?
It's Friday - about to start! It's going to be a crazy weekend. Tomorrow I'm flying from Colorado to Chicago to take part in our holiday party. My flight lands at 8:20pm, party starts at 9:00, I'll be partying all night then my flight home leaves at 6:00am the next morning. Gonna be CRAZY!
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this interview?
I would probably be writing for the book
Can you briefly give the YHP Readers some background information about you and what you do?
I started a t-shirt company called Threadless.com back in November of 2000 with $500. Today it is a huge, strong online art community with over 1 million users!
How do you define success?
In units of fun. It's all about being happy.
How do you build a successful customer base?
For us its about building friendships and community. This happens very slowly but very naturally. And you end up with an incredibly strong community of people who share a common interest and trust the business.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
I started dating my wife around the same time I started Threadless. I didn't create Threadless as a business though, it was more of a hobby. It wasn't really treated as a business until about 2004. So in a way I'm a bit of an accidental entrepreneur. Being able to transform a hobby into a business has been great for family life. There's a different tone to the work I do that's more about having a good time... makes it easier to be constantly thinking about 'work' like a typical entrepreneur does.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I made some pretty big failures on the accounting side of things. I'm horrible at that. It definitely taught me how valuable it is to have someone who is interested in the things you aren't to do those things.
How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
At first we hired a lot of friends. Then we hired a lot from within the Threadless community. When we hire outside of the community, we make sure that we share the same values that are core to our business and the culture and the people.
How important have good employees been to your success?
Hugely important. We like independent workers that share the values of the business and have a get things done attitude.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Patience, drive and very little fear.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Hmmm. History was always my weakness in High School, I've never been much of a history buff. But I think I would want to speak with an inventor of some sort - maybe Edison... I would love to get some insight into the thought processes that went into coming up with a completely fresh idea that went on to change everything.
What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?
Probably when I flicked a booger when I was 12 and it landed on my grandma's hand.
What three pieces of advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
Constantly try to surprise yourself (push your capabilities), don't make decisions based on fear and bootstrap your business - grow slow.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
What’s your favourite holiday location?
Copper Mountain, Colorado - snowboarding !
What’s the worst place you’ve ever visited?
I lived in Houston Texas for a year and it was absolutely horrible.
Thanks for your time Jake, we wish you the very best.