2012-03-07 21:07:43 - Daymond John of ABC's Shark Tank, founder of fashion label FUBU, best-selling author, and one of the entrepreneur judges on ABC's hit show The Shark Tank, shares his formula for building a world-class brand
Daymond did all of the things most people are forced to do when building a dream from scratch. He and his mother mortgaged the home they collectively owned for the $100,000 in start up capital they needed. Daymond learned how to sew, putting the company logo on hockey jerseys, sweatshirts and t-shirts himself. The tide turned when he asked an old neighborhood friend, L.L. Cool J, to wear a t-shirt in a Gap ad he was filming. "At the very end of that Gap ad, where he was wearing a FUBU hat, he said, 'For Us, By Us,' and the Gap spent $30 million dollars airing that advertisement, which was really a FUBU ad."
Over the years, Daymond has aggressively
tapped into the power of celebrity endorsers to garner, by his estimation, hundreds of millions in essentially free advertising. And he's using his hip hop and mainstream musical connections right now, working with rap sensation Pitbull and Cee Lo Green, as well as Mark Cuban in a new initiative to bring his experience, connections, friendships, marketing skills and understanding to Silicon Valley, with a goal of opening new doors for the African American and Latino communities in social media and technology. Spend any amount of time with Daymond and you're left with this impression:
He's a man with a plan. Now that plan comes with two decades of experience from building a billion dollar company, a Rolodex that could be an exhibit at the Smithsonian, and the power of recognition from being on a hit network television show. It opens doors. It knocks down walls. And it breaks down stereotypes.
"You know, everybody has a perception of people, and I think that the perception of me as the FUBU guy was a guy who wore gold teeth and starts break dancing as soon as he walks in a room, because you see the product out there and you don't realize that fashion is fashion. I think a lot of people didn't realize that I'm a businessman, and I'm a student of life, so I keep learning. A lot of people didn't know the FUBU story, so I get a lot of opportunity to speak and inspire people, as well as advise and help big corporations understand that FUBU is a product, and that we all have a product and a brand, and you can use a lot of the same sensibility for whatever your brand is."
Part of what millions of viewers have learned about Daymond's brand through the The Shark Tank is that at the core, he is someone that understands and loves business. He's also someone that understands television. And that to turn an average show into a hit show, you need a healthy dose of conflict and drama, as well as a fair amount of cruelty, coldness and reality woven in with caring and dignity. Watch the crushed looks on the faces of the people looking for seed money when Daymond or another judge give them the two words they dread: "I'm out." It's all there. Every Friday. And remember, it's the judge's personal money that's on the line, and they did not become rich by handing it out foolishly.