For founders Braxton Manley and Grant Andrews, it all started as a class project.
The duo was given an assignment at Texas Tech to create a business idea on a student-sized budget. Manley wasn’t fond of his new Apple Watch band and couldn’t find anything online that was an acceptable solution. They came up with a concept for a comfortable band, and within a year turned that idea into a booming business.
Although success came rather quickly, it didn’t come without extreme persistence and iteration. In a recent podcast interview, Andrews highlighted how him and Manley’s philosophy of incessantly focusing on the customer and listening to their feedback has been their biggest advantage.
“Every single piece of feedback we got from our customers about our product or brand, whether we liked it or not, we took it in and listened. That’s what got us to where we are today,” – Andrews
Focusing on the customer has certainly paid off, as the bootstrapped startup company has been able to grow their apple watch band empire to a whopping $200,000/month in sales as of the beginning of 2021.
One notable opportunity for Manley and Andrews came during South by Southwest in Austin more than a year ago.
“We managed to get a Braxley Band on Mark Cuban,” said Manley. “It was truly a surreal moment.”
Cuban, one host of the reality TV show Shark Tank, was hosting a panel at the annual event. Shark Tank helps entrepreneurs and new businesses find investors, and Manley and Andrews thought they had no choice but to take advantage of the opportunity.
The duo approached the microphone during a question and answer session, asking Cuban if he would wear one of their watch bands. He agreed and they presented him with a Braxley Band colored blue and white, which just so happen to be the colors of the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA team Cuban owns.
Soon after South by Southwest the business began to take off and their priorities changed.
“We learned that we currently have what we need to keep our business growing. We’re okay playing by our own rules instead of following direction from an investor,” said Manley.
Their own rules include using 100% recycled fabric in each band. Keeping in the sustainable theme, they started an initiative to plant one tree for every band sold. So far they’ve planted more than 40,000 trees through the organization Trees for the Future.
“If we can make an impact, why wouldn’t we do it?” said Andrews. “It’s a small thing to us but a big deal to someone on the other side of the world.”
Ultimately they want to be an inspiration for others trying to launch a new business.
“We started with $20 and my grandmother’s sewing machine,” Manley said. “We had to learn fast about distribution, challenges with manufacturing and packaging, and all of it while finishing college.”
Manley offered advice to budding entrepreneurs.
“You’ve got to be ready to learn and be patient,” Manley said. “Nothing happens overnight. I hope others can see, though, that it’s not an impossible thing to accomplish.”