Reference no: EM132279900
Blake Mycoskie and TOMS
By age 29, Blake Mycoskie had already started four businesses. He got the idea to start his fifth business on a trip to Argentina. Blake observed that many people were wearing alpargatas soft casual canvas shoes and he thought they would sell in America. But he also realized that there were also many poor people without any shoes who had blisters, sores, and infections. So he decided to help.
Back home in America, Blake got involved in a volunteer shoe drive to ship shoes overseas. But he realized that there was a need for a constant flow of shoes and that even a nonprofit organization couldn’t be very sustainable through simply donations. He was also an entrepreneur and wanted to make money. So Blake came up with the idea of being a social entrepreneur by combining business and charity to help others and make the world a better place.
Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS, which stands for TOMmorrowS shoes, in 2006. He developed the One for One business model for every pair of shoes TOMS sells, it gives away a free pair to a child in need. But as with entrepreneurial new ventures, it wasn’t easy. In fact, Blake was told that he didn’t understand the shoe industry and that his business wouldn’t be successful. But that didn’t stop Blake. To date, TOMS has given away more than 10 million pairs of shoes.
Blake realized that he couldn’t just buy the alpargate shoes. They needed to be more stylish, comfortable, and durable to sell in the United States. So with no knowledge of the shoe industry and not speaking Spanish, he returned to Argentina to find a local partner, and teamed up with shoe- maker Alejo for help. Together they developed a prototype and Blake brought 250 pairs home to Los Angeles.
Blake ran a focus group by inviting a bunch of friends, mostly women, to his place. He told them his story and One for One, and they discussed the potential market and price for the shoes and where they could be sold. They loved the story, bought a pair of shoes, and spread the word.
Blake went to retail stores and told his story and tried to get them to sell TOMS, but he got lots of rejections. Blake would tell his story to anyone who would listen. He would wear two different shoes just to get people to talk to him so he could tell his story. Blake’s first two big breaks came when American Rag agreed to sell TOMS and the LA Times ran his story in the newspaper. Orders started pouring in. So Blake started the business on a shoestring budget by using his apartment and three interns he found through Craigslist.
Blake went back to Argentina to give away free shoes and develop a supply chain of TOMS shoes. Blake believes that success is more than status and money and that it’s about contributing to the world and living and working on your own terms. He has personal, professional, and philanthropic success. Today, TOMS gives free shoes to 60 countries.
Blake has expanded his social entrepreneurship mission to include writing a book, Start Something That Matters, to inspire others to contribute to the world. He also expanded his unique One for One business model to include TOMS Eyewear, helping save and restore sight for those in need. TOMS Web site (www.toms.com) includes the Marketplace where people can shop for a variety of other products and contribute to funding education. TOMS has Giving Partners to increase its charity, and it has given millions to nonprofit organizations. To encourage social entrepreneurship, TOMS develops ways to use its platform to support their ventures. In addition, the Start Something That Matters Foundation has begun to help innovators bring their ideas to life.
Organizational Strengths and Weaknesses:
Describing what the organization is capable of doing with respect to addressing the problem.
Identified strengths and weaknesses should include those at the managerial level of the problem.