E26 - "Big" Tom Grace with Powerful Advice to Startup Entrepreneurs
"Any time I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is touch our product and be like, 'Wow. We really did this. We really pulled this off!' " --Tom Grace, founder of Black Iron Strength.
Black Iron Strength (Strength Equipment | Custom Dumbbells | Black Iron Strength®) is the ROLLS ROYCE of gym equipment! Their top-of-the-line dumbbells, barbells, cable attachments, and much more are 100% made in the USA and are used across the country in the training facilities of many NFL and NHL teams, and even the navy Seals!
Black Iron Strength has more active US Patents in force than the rest of the free weight industry COMBINED.
Having known Tom for about six months now, I asked him if he would be willing to share some wisdom with startup entrepreneurs like ourselves.
"You've GOT TO be ALL-IN.
You've GOT TO believe in the IDEA.
And you've GOT TO be willing to FUND IT."
03:59 How it feels watching the Chiefs play in the Super Bowls, knowing they used Black Iron Strength equipment to train!
06:37 How Tom caught the attention of the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and many more professional sports teams and earned their business as long-term customers.
08:21 How the CDC-approved, patented Germ-Buster(r) technology kills germs 24-7 / 365 so you can train SAFELY! What it was like going through FOUR YEARS of research & development, registering with the federal government, and ultimately beginning selling this unique invention.
11:13 Retiring early from the US Army to build a life on the civilian side of the fitness industry, located on the west coast in Washington State.
14:03 Rising out of the abyss; starting a business from scratch against all odds, 100% with personal funding (also see 27:20).
17:11 Manufacturing methods and client preferences: novelty (Skullbellz) and functionality (Black Iron).
18:05 MADE IN THE USA: Value to end-customers, benefits as a business owner and advantages vs. pitfalls. Working around lower profit margins as a domestic manufacturer.
21:40 Black Iron Strength is the Rolls Royce of the fitness industry.
27:55 15 US Patents and 2 Patents Pending.... Finding where there is a demand in the industry and CAPITALIZING on it!
32:55 Identifying gaps in the industry and asking "How can I make a better product?"
35:31 Books Tom has found helpful in his career:
1. The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.
2. Shoe Dog, by Phil McKnight.
37:01 Maximizing the benefits of a "top-down" marketing approach; servicing the professionals of the industry and offering financing for beginners.
39:42 US Military experience, weight training, and SUPERSETTING valuable success principles into career and life.
41:09 Advice to young entrepreneurs: YOU'VE GOT TO BE ALL-IN. How critical it is to be personally invested in your business and take the majority of the risk before you expect any help from anyone else.
43:50 When it may be necessary to put your DREAM on HOLD temporarily to make sure you're ready to start ALL-IN.
45:12 Tom is available to talk if you want to order or just have a general question! How to contact Tom.