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Radical Podcast - Ryan sits down with JIMGEAR

April 29, 2019

Radical Podcast - Ryan sits down with JIMGEAR
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On this episode of The Radical Company Podcast Ryan sits with the founders of JIMGEAR.

Jim and James, the founders of JIMGEAR, met 25 years ago while working together, and over time became great friends.

Today, they are setting out on their entrepreneurial journey and  creating incredible bags suited for work, play, and everything in between.

Check out this episode and head on over to https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/jimgear/created?ref=nav_search&result=user&term=Jimgear and check all things JIMGEAR as they prepare for market launch! 🚀🎒
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 If you enjoy this episode please check out the rest of our information and nugget filled episodes in our profile.  Please share, review, and subscribe so we can continue to bring the down to earth and priceless information from our amazing guests for both your #business, #marketing and #lifestyle needs.
.
Have a great weekend Rad Fam! 
#NowThatsRadical🤙
#YeahThatGreenville 🌿
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Radical Podcast is always looking forward to meeting both aspiring, and grounded professionals across the country! Feel like you have something to say? Slide us a Dm and let's make it happen! 
@radical_results
@ryanalford
www.radical.company
(864) 616 2820
ryan@radical.company
25 Delano Drive, Greenville, SC 29601, USA


On this episode of The Radical Company Podcast Ryan sits with the founders of JIMGEAR.

Jim and James, the founders of JIMGEAR, met 25 years ago while working together, and over time became great friends.

Today, they are setting out on their entrepreneurial journey and  creating incredible bags suited for work, play, and everything in between.

Check out this episode and head on over to https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/jimgear/created?ref=nav_search&result=user&term=Jimgear and check all things JIMGEAR as they prepare for market launch! 🚀🎒

 If you enjoy this episode please check out the rest of our information and nugget filled episodes in our profile.  Please share, review, and subscribe so we can continue to bring the down to earth and priceless information from our amazing guests for both your #business, #marketing and #lifestyle needs.
.
Have a great weekend Rad Fam! 
#NowThatsRadical🤙
#YeahThatGreenville 🌿

Radical Podcast is always looking forward to meeting both aspiring, and grounded professionals across the country! Feel like you have something to say? Slide us a Dm and let's make it happen! 
@radical_results
@ryanalford
www.radical.company
(864) 616 2820
ryan@radical.company
25 Delano Drive, Greenville, SC 29601, USA

Transcript

Ryan Alford [00:00:04] Hey guys, this is Ryan Alford. It is a podcast Friday here with Radical and I'm excited for today's guest. I've got Jim and James from JIMGEAR in Greenville. Welcome, gentlemen.  Glad you guys are here. They are a local Greenville-based startup; Jimgear and they have some bags. You guys that are listening, you're going to have to go with my verbal cues here. If you're watching on YouTube, you can see the beautiful bags here on the floor, but it's a startup, and I'm excited to talk about everything going on with Jimgear today. What's going on guys?  How is the small business? 

James [00:00:44] It's been a lot of fun. We've learned a lot. And it's been a nice adventure for us. It's come a long way. We started a Kickstarter that we're promoting.  

Jim [00:00:53] The key right now for us is the Kickstarter. We're about twenty-four days in, so about halfway,  and we've raised half of our goal. So it's that last half push to make this thing a success. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:12]  It's Greenville-based, and we're going to talk about the bags and the cause that you're supporting and then support it. You know, a lot of people sell a lot of things now, but you guys are sort of supporting a great cause with the military families and I want to get into that. Let's talk about the background, you guys are from the area here in Greenville, Lauryn's, et cetera. Let's start there with the background and what led you to start JimGear. James? 

James [00:01:45] I grew up with my father and he was in the military. He was in the Vietnam War as a paratrooper. So my background is with the military. My father was named James, I'm named James, and I went to Lawrence High School and then went to USC. Jim went to Clemson. So it's going to be an interesting conversation.

Ryan Alford [00:02:08] But yeah, I know I am concerned 

James  [00:02:12] We met almost 26 years ago. 

Jim [00:02:17]  I traveled a lot in the early part of my life because my dad was in the Marine Corps Museum for twenty-five years. I've been on the West Coast and Tennessee and then ended up back here. My mom was originally from Greenville, so she came back here and, I went to school here in Greenville and as you know, ended up at Clemson University where we went. 

Ryan Alford [00:02:48] Yes, yes. Winning tradition. 

Jim [00:02:51] Not that we're talking about anything else, but I think for both of us, from a fitness standpoint, it's what drew us into this whole idea of the backpacks and working out together. You know, this guy has been an inspiration for me. He dropped about fifty pounds and he got himself really healthy through this whole process. And the bags came out of discussions when we were,really just trying to work out and to stay in shape as older men and stay young. 

Ryan Alford [00:03:35] We'll talk about the bag concept, but I do want to back up a little bit, you are both from military families and I think that's interesting. And for our audience listening, how did that frame your lifestyle and lifetime coming up? I think people get this mindset when you hear about a military family, you think of families traveling around because every military family is always doing that, and I think it raises a more dynamic child in some ways. But I'd love to hear you guys talk from a military perspective about military family life and how that's influenced your lives. 

James [00:04:11] Growing up for me is primarily only the discipline. I mean, there were a lot of you do this, you do this, you do this. This is the way your life is structured. So growing up, that's the way it was. I had two brothers, two younger brothers, and we had to make sure that everything was in the right place at the right time and that helped me through my adult life to stay organized and to push forward. 

Jim [00:04:38]  I would agree with that One hundred percent. I did move around a lot more. My dad was at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina at a Marine base there,   Pendleton on the West Coast, and also was in Tennessee. So you do learn to adjust and every couple of years we were dropped into a new school. He retired in the late 70s and went into civilian life and we moved again and made another adjustment and finally ended up here in Greenville. I didn't do a good job of making friends, but you learn that sometimes you pick up and you go. And I think that's the reason that I consider myself a homebody now and I love Greenville. I love being in this area and haven't left since we returned here when I was around 11. So that is it for me when I hear military families.  I think of that, just as you said, it is picking up and moving to that next city. But it gives you a different perspective, and as I said, you learn to make friends, or in my case, you learn to stand up for yourself on the playground. You challenge them because you're the new kid. Right. 

Ryan Alford [00:06:10]  Do you think we're losing some of the appreciation of what the military goes through and the sacrifices that are made on that level? I  am curious because it seems I worry about my kids like my dad was in the military, air force for approximately eight years. And, I knew that side of him, but I was young and I had a sister but it just seems like a lot of things have changed, just things like that appreciation, understanding of the military way is kind of dwindling a bit. I  want to know your perspectives on that and, to build it back to the cause you guys support. 

Jim [00:07:03] I  do think it has changed.  If you think about the last time and if you look at the Iraq war and some of the things from a military perspective, we've had conflicts. But the last significant conflict, when was that? And we've been at least a generation. We grew up in military families but we weren't in the military. And that's what the military would have in that first Iraq war. And so I do think that to some extent we've lost that appreciation, particularly for the older generation and what they've done for us and our country. And that is the reason that we felt strongly about giving back to that community. And we talked a lot about how best to do that and what's important to us?. A scholarship is one of those things as we believe in higher education and  Folds of Honor is one of the charities that we work very closely with and they provide scholarships for family members that have lost loved ones in a conflict, and that's it's just huge to see the impact that it has. When you're growing up and you're living in cinder block housing on the military base, you get an appreciation for it. If you've never been there, it's hard to put yourself in what these military families go through, moving and moving into a place like that, the military housing is not sexy. There's nothing right about it. Yeah, I mean, it's functional. Exactly. And so it certainly has given us an appreciation for what they go through. But I agree with you. I'm concerned that there are generations of kids who don't have a clue right now. 

James [00:09:07] I just don't think self-sacrifice is part of the national discussion anymore. You don't hear it talked about like it was years ago. So, um, seeing what I saw growing up and what my father went through, I understand it. But I agree with you. I don't think it's discussed enough. 

Ryan Alford [00:09:24] Yeah, I appreciate you coming through military families you guys went through, but let's talk about these bags.  You know, I've been watching your content where all these circles run together especially here in Greenville, it's a big town, but still a small town. I've been following and nodding my head at the; go to the gym and he doesn't have a functional gym bag, he has one that either looks like crap or it doesn't hold everything you wanted it to or you need your nice Laptop bag, then you have to go to a business meeting. Let's talk about what kind of thought process went into it because it hit me square between the eyes when I first heard about you guys over here. But let us talk about that history so that people can read about it on the website and the Kickstarter campaign? Let's say everybody led you to those conclusions and started the process of making JimGear? 

James [00:10:32] Well, the tough thing was, you got to work, you got to get your black laptop bag, your gym bag, you got your coffee in your hand,  you're trying to walk into the facility and you're trying to open the doors. It's just tough, it's a tough task and you've got to set something down. So with this bag, we want to design something where you can put everything in, all your gym clothes, your shoes, your laptop, all that can go in one bag. So you're carrying one bag with your coffee as much as you can handle the one office, you know? 

Jim [00:11:01] Yeah. I think the other thing that we talked a lot about and was key is that I don't know anybody who works out and post-workout, their clothes smell as good as they did prior, or I haven't figured that one out.  I've seen a lot of ads for all those antibacterials and quite frankly, none of them work. So the other thing was, how do we keep those things separate?  We had to have separate compartments specifically designed for the dirty clothes and even wrist straps and things that you're going to use in the gym to keep that away from the clean clothes section and even the shoes and even within the dirty clothes compartment, we designed a pull-out Snapple pouch that you put the dirty clothes in and you can wash it as well. And just it's been amazing. You know, we've had some of the first sample bags for a couple of years that we built, you know, as we were starting the business. And they still don't stink. It's incredible when you keep that stuff separate and you get somewhere for it to go. Yeah, that was another huge thing, because like you said, the Moratti gym bag didn't smell real good. And it was,  do I want to carry that into a meeting, you know, and then it didn't look professional. So that was the other thing. The other thing about this bag, it's been something that we learn because we travel a lot as well, is that it's an incredible travel bag for the same reason that you can keep things separate and you can get an extra pair of shoes. You don’t have to put them in your checked luggage. And for me, that's important. You know, I always feel like if I'm going somewhere, you know, I've got access to another pair of shoes and I'm not having to wait to get the luggage if I need them for whatever might be going on. So that was another huge piece to it. Yeah, well, 

James [00:13:03] Durability was also important. Do you know how many bags I bought and after a couple of months the panel starts to fray, well this bag doesn't do that. 

Ryan Alford [00:13:13] Let's talk about the craftsmanship, on the canvas and leather and all that, what was the process of creation for this? You knew the problems that you wanted to solve. But what was the mindset in the crafting of the bags themselves and what went into that? 

Jim [00:13:37]  I think James mentioned the durability,  we looked at different materials and the ballistic nylon seemed to be for the main body. It seemed to be the right approach. But again, just something that would last and look good, look more like a canvas type, you know, from an aesthetic standpoint, because we knew we wanted something that you can carry in and out of a boardroom as well as you can carry in and out of the gym. And that's the reason for the leather accents as well, to give it a classic professional look and not just a functional look, even though it's very functional. We wanted it to look like it belonged in an office or better even a travel pack. I can have this on with a suit and it looks good. And if I  have jeans on like we do today and it still looks great.  And if I'm in gym clothes, it still fits. 

Ryan Alford [00:14:45] So we've got three compartments. 

 Jim [00:14:57] We've four compartments, clean, dirty, the shoes, and then office; the laptop area and any pens. We design an accessory bag for that section for a cable house that's in that bag there, the sample for that and it's got places for you to put all sorts of things. I guarantee you, you get 10 connectors, that you're walking around with. 

Ryan Alford [00:15:23]  Oh good grief my bag is good. I don't know how many dongles adapters and I can never find the one that I need. 

Jim [00:15:33] We felt the adaptor pouch would be a good addition. I know they can't see because we are not on video. 

Ryan Alford [00:15:52] There's still the cable component in a military area. 

Jim [00:15:58] Right. 

James [00:15:58] It has a snap so you can snap it into one of the connectors. 

Jim [00:16:02] That's one of the things that we offered on Kickstarter and a drawstring bag. So if you do want to lock it in a locker, then you can grab that drawstring bag with whatever you need specifically in June and lock this up in a locker or whatever, and then a lunch pouch as well. Yeah, it snaps in and out. So you get to work the same thing he's talking about. You know, if you get your lunch, you can throw them in the refrigerator, but it fits in the bag as well. So you're not carrying it around 

Ryan Alford [00:16:40] What's it been like in the three years since you started? Talk about just the realities of the business. I think people resonate with the realness of a product. This is quality and the transparency of the growth, the business, and the reality of bringing this concept to life. 

James [00:17:08]  I think one of the biggest challenges that we encountered early,  was finding somebody who would build it for us, a manufacturer because it is a complicated bag and it's not easy for a manufacturer to make it, but we were fortunate after Jim made several calls to different places, to find somebody out in Colorado who would do it for us. 

Jim [00:17:27]  The US base challenge of, just what's the next step, the social media aspect, the advertising, how to get the word out,  what do you do next. Do you do a T-Shirt? Those are all challenges when somebody is trying to start a business, how do we get this to where we start to see some profit coming from it, or at least some income? Because in the early stages, there is no income yet. 

Ryan Alford [00:18:09] Entrepreneurship has been glorified as being sexy and cool. It's fun and it has its greatness, but, man, it's not easy. 

Jim [00:18:25]  Without a doubt, it's a challenge and I think you have to keep a good attitude and a positive attitude. And the nice thing about having a partner is that you can feed off of each other and you can keep each other straight, right down on it. And I'm like, I'm tired of this and I'm tired of sending out an Instagram post or,  you can feed off each other and just remind each other, hey, baby steps, baby steps. And he said it. He said it a million times, it's not a sprint. In today's world, it's immediate gratification. And to your point, it's not. You try starting a business, there's nothing easy about it. 

Ryan Alford [00:19:18] Yeah, but what if you were giving one piece of advice to a fledgling entrepreneur, what would that be? 

James [00:19:29] Patience, I think. I think he can go on the head but. It's not a sprint. It's a long-distance run and you've got to look at it that way. So to me, that's the biggest piece of advice, be patient. 

Jim [00:19:42] Yeah. Be ready. You know, I mean, you're going to have ups and downs and you're going to doubt yourself and I think you're going to have times when you doubt yourself and you have to pick yourself up and say, no, we're doing this for the right reasons and you have to keep going. As you say, there are plenty of nos. All right, you're going to get the nos no matter what you're trying to do. You are going to hear; hey, we don't want to do this or we don't want to work with you or no, we can't build this it is too technical and you need to take it offshore, we don't want to do it in the U.S. or you don't want to do it in the U.S, and all of that is rejection. But like anything in life you just keep moving forward and you persevere. Another key is I'm not going to take no for an answer. And everybody I run into says no I am going to ask them if they know anyone that may want to help us or may do it right. Just keep that you got a network so roll with it. And that would be my advice. 

Ryan Alford [00:20:57] I love it.  How has the response been from the people that have gotten the bag, the first orders you got?

 James [00:21:07] We've got a lot of really positive responses. You go to the website, you'll see a lot of positive responses from the fact itself and just the e-commerce part of our website. So, yeah, I think we've gotten a lot of really good responses on the Web site. 

Jim [00:21:22] I think I mentioned it briefly before but there's been a lot of ideas that have come from the people that have purchased it and they say, I love traveling with this bag and,  a lot of men talk about the gem aspects of it as much as they talked about how much can get in the bag. I love taking it on two-day trips. I'm going to New York for two days, I've got my gym bag packed up and this is great because I don't have to check a bag. So, yeah, it's been good. And I  would agree that for the most part that people love it and they love what it does for them. And, again, different people are using it in different ways. That's been the unique thing about it. And it's been a surprise to me. Our concept was; OK, is this a guy or girl that's going to work and needs to carry everything. But, we've heard a lot of feedback. This morning we had a conversation with some ladies, one was six months pregnant, and she said, you guys need to do a workout- a professional bag that's also a diaper bag. 

Ryan Alford [00:22:45] Yeah. Wow. 

James [00:22:46] OK, we hadn't thought about that one. 

Ryan Alford [00:22:48] Yeah, that's going to be sexist. 

Jim [00:22:53]  I mean, we have the pink version and the Kickstarter that I told her too, I said this would work that way. 

Ryan Alford [00:23:03] So let's talk about jimgear.com. That's where people can learn about the story and buy the bags. So we have a Kickstarter going, let's talk about some of the components of that platform and the levels and different things. What are our options for someone listening that is going to go and search for J-i-m-g-e-a-r on the platform and they can find that on Jimgear.com. But also let's talk about the options once they get there and what we're trying to get people to do with Kickstarter? 

Jim [00:23:42], One of the things that I think is great about Kickstarter is the options are endless, you can pledge anything and not have to pick a tier. If you want to come to the Kickstarter and pledge ten thousand dollars to us, we're happy to take it, it works with our goal. But all joking aside, it starts at ten dollars,  you can start with a thank you note and a  jimgear sticker and it works its way through different levels of some of the accessories,  t-shirt, hat, and drawstring bag. So it varies from 10, 50, 80, 90, and on up until you get into the multiple backpacks and there's a wide variety in any amount. We're not just looking for folks that are just interested in backpacks, quite frankly, because there are packages with, you know, the drawstring bag and the lunch pouch and the cable pouch. If you've already gotten a backpack then you want some of those accessories, so anything that helps us towards our goal. 

Ryan Alford [00:25:14] What are we wanting to ultimately fund?  Is this to get a larger production run of the bags? 

Jim [00:25:23] Right. With this  2.0 version, we want to do a larger production run of this version and to do some of the additional color offers,  scrolling by now to the accessories that have the cable pouch and the drawstring bag in the lunch pouch to be able to make some production runs of those and have them available on the website. That's why they're supporting us by pledging on the Kickstarter 

Ryan Alford [00:25:57] I know we talked about this some it's beginning with the military family, but maybe talk a little bit more about the plan, should we get this off the ground. Everybody listening is going to go to the Kickstarter campaign. But talk about, like, you know, some of the plans that would give back to some of the military families more specifically. And what that company looks like for us.

 James [00:26:26] We're looking at giving back to the military families like we talked about, and one of the charities we're looking at is Folds-Of-Honour, which gives scholarships to children of people who have lost their parents. OK, so that's the charity we're looking at and we're giving back to that community from this campaign. 

Jim[00:26:46] Yeah, regardless, I'll say this with one hundred percent confidence that regardless of what happens with Kickstarter, we're going to be writing a check to Folds-Of-Honour when this thing ends, and we're going to do that regardless of where we are. Beyond that, in the summertime and maybe early fall, we've already established a relationship with them. We're going to run a charity event here in Greenville, specifically for Folds-of-Honor. So whether we meet the goal or not, that's the plan. But, if we're successful on Kickstarter, we want to continue to do that. We state that we're going to give 10 percent of our profits, Folds-Of-Honor is looking forward to that and that's just that's a minimal. Quite frankly, if this business continues to be a success for us, we want to grow that percentage because that's what it's for us. That's what this is about. It's not about becoming the next Nike or underarmour, in backpacks to me, it's about giving back to that community. 

Ryan Alford [00:28:01] I think that's important for people to know and  I think so many of these Kickstarters or everybody that starts a business and thinks you're going to get rich overnight, there's a lot of, mixed intentions perse, but I think people need to understand that Jimgear is ultimately about enabling you guys to give something back to something that means a lot to you. 

Jim [00:28:28] Right? Right. We wanted to produce a product because we wanted to solve our problem. Right. And I think we did that. But we knew that that next element of this business had to be, you know, to return to that community what we felt we got from it from growing up there and the discipline and it's a passion for both of us. And quite frankly, to your point about getting rich, I don't care and I know he doesn't care and I know I can speak for him. 

James [00:29:01] We don't care 

Jim [00:29:02]  We don’t care about being wealthy with this thing. We've said many times we didn't care if we ended up making backpacks and they were for us and we were able to do nothing but give every bit of the profits to an organization like Folds-of-Honor. That is where our hearts are plain and simple. And as somebody said I don't want to be a superstar backpack manufacturer or a businessman. So we want to be able to look back and be proud of what we did for that community. Not so much, you know, for the products themselves. And obviously, we love what we've done with the product, but it's about, you know, the military families. 

Ryan Alford [00:29:53] What does the future hold?  Where does the Kickstarter go? What other personal or professional goals, as we're closing down here, or do you want to answer that in a few months? 

Jim [00:30:11] I think that would be a better time.  I mean, from a personal standpoint you know, I am only 50. So I've got to start getting ready for retirement, things like that. I have a son and a daughter. My son just recently got married. My daughter's getting married in a month. So, you know, personal growth is to make sure that they're happy., I'd love to see this take off. And we have a chance to give back a lot to the  Folds-of-Honor Community. 

James [00:30:40], I think I look forward to that being outstanding.  To be able to look back two years in the future,  to where we are today and at us here and just look at how far we've come and what we've been able to do for that community. And we're selling more backpacks.  We are two years wiser. And  I think we may have said it earlier in the discussion that the journey has been incredible and just the people we've met, you and your team and, as you said, this close-knit community in Greenville was just incredible and we just met some awesome people that we wouldn't have otherwise come into contact with. So that's made it worth it. It's just been amazing.  It's amazing the people that you meet and the common issues that you have and just that bonding that occurs with the community because like you said about even entrepreneurs, a lot of people are out there hustling. You know, it's just good. We met a guy at one of the shows, and he has a T-shirt business and he runs across the gym and he has a real job which means he has his boss. He's selling T-shirts and trying to start a business just to get to meet a guy like that and see his passion. And he told me he's like, I've been in this for five years and I still haven't turned a profit. Just to hear that is encouraging because when you're sitting at that time, we were probably a year and a half old and you're thinking we're never going to make money. And here's a guy who's saying, I've been doing it for five years and it hasn't clicked. And it may not sound encouraging, but it gives you this pause that we got to be patient. And he was doing the right thing. So that's you know, that's been tremendous. And I hope to look back, you know, and just be thankful. I'm thankful today but to be even more thankful for the experience. 

Ryan Alford[00:32:54] Well, I appreciate you guys coming on the podcast and everyone, Jimgears.com, j-i-m-g-e-a-r.com, just click on the link at the top it says Kickstarter campaign to support these guys. And let's get to that goal. Zach has 21 days, right? Yes. Yes. All right. Thanks for that.

And this is Ryan Alford for the Radical company podcast, Go support jimgear.