We had the good fortune of connecting with Kyle Mauch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kyle, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I never broke out of my mold until I began to embrace and enjoy risk. I grew up extremely shy. Faking sick days to avoid speaking in front of class type of shy. But in my senior year of high school I took a big risk. I left my high school that I won a state championship with in baseball to transfer to our cross town rivals in hopes that it would give me a better opportunity in my athletic career, and in my newfound passion for business with the classes that they offered. Upon arrival I was accepted and embraced by new friends and school staff. This gave me a new confidence. I had a breakout season in sports, won awards in the business department, got a college scholarship, and this was the beginning of the rest of my life. This lead to breaking out of my shyness, starting businesses, leaving my baseball dreams, risking everything for love, and building a multi million dollar business. Risk didn’t always work out, sometimes it failed miserably, but I was accepting of the failure because the majority of the time risk paid off handsomely. The key is of course calculated risk. Well thought through risk where you understand the risks and rewards and how they balance with one another. What are the likely and worst case scenarios if it doesn’t work out, and if it does? I never risk blindly. Never. I always risk with a plan, confidence, and the willingness to accept the outcome if it doesn’t workout and quickly put together a new plan when it doesn’t. I’m a firm believer that if you’re not willing to take risks, you absolutely should not run your own business.
What should our readers know about your business?
Athletes Brand began as a t-shirt company in my college apartment in 2010/11. It’s come a long ways since then having worked with over 1,500 pro athletes in branding, philanthropy, and apparel. Now we’re also in the film industry helping tell players stories through film and tv. Storytelling is what excites me and has been the foundation of the company since day one. I believe story is what shapes the future of the world, and athletes are the most influential profession on the planet because of how they relate to our youth at the critical mental development juncture in their lives. Being able to tell stories that can inspire kids to do more and pursue their dreams is incredibly fulfilling knowing my work is bigger than just entertainment. This has been an extremely long road though to making my dreams come to reality. I’ve almost quit multiple times. I’ve sacrificed more than even I will ever fully understand. But what I’ve learned from it all is that persistence and consistency are the most valuable traits to master in business. Most people give up too soon, like I nearly did twice. Many get distracted and try to juggle too many different ideas and be a master of all, which I did for years. The quote “a master of all is a master of none” is all too true in business. Once I really laser focused on what it was my company was the best at, and built only that, that’s when my business took off, and opportunities began to really come in. So if you believe in your idea, if you are passionate about your idea, keep pushing, keep knocking on doors, and don’t give up. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t make them twice. Evolve, but don’t go astray from what it is that you hope to accomplish and never ditch what sales are proving is the product that they want. Also, don’t ignore sales. What I’d want people to know about me and my business though is that authenticity is the most important value to me and the company. When I started the company, I, just as I’ve learned every young entrepreneur does, tried to make my company sound bigger than it was. I’d refer to things as “we” when talking with customers and would even say “I’ll check with the warehouse guys” when I was the “warehouse” guy packing and shipping things out of my living room. I felt that people would see less value in my products if they knew it was just me packing their shirts on my living room floor. Little did I know that being a one man show was actually more valuable to my customers. They valued knowing who was making and handling the items that they were spending money on. They wanted to support an individual, not just a company. They valued people. So I stress to young entrepreneurs to embrace the days that it’s just you. Be proud of that when communicating with customers. Take every chance that you can to personalize things from notes in your products, to thank you emails. Be honest about issues that may exist with their orders. Never treat an angry customer poorly, be empathetic even when they’re completely wrong for it. Most of them will appreciate it, and become lifelong supporters of you, not just your company. You don’t have to be the face of the company, but at least be the face of customer service.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Phoenix has a lot of good food spots. Gadzooks for some lunch enchiladas is always a must for me as well is SIP Coffee and Beer House where I get a lot of work done from. Margaritas over at Diego Pops in Old Town Scottsdale for dinner one night for that Arizona vibe visitors tend to go for. Then stop by a buddies bar called Rockbar in Old Town Scottsdale for a drink and music afterwards. If you’re looking for wine though, make your way up to Scottsdale Quarter and go to SORSO Wine Bar ran by Mark and Lauren Teahen, another awesome family to support in town. A trip out to Sedona is also a must if they’re in town for the week, and golf. Lots of golf. Too many great courses to start listing them. Depending on the time of the year, the area has all major sports, incredible festivals, and my favorite time of the year is January-March when Barrett-Jackson car shows, Waste Management Open, and MLB Spring Training all come together. Lastly, I’d take them up to my church at Impact Church in north Scottsdale where my favorite pastor, Travis Hearn, is always relaying some incredible messages.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My brother Trevor, CEO of Carrot.com, pushed me early on to go all in on Athletes Brand when I decided to drop out of college. He’s been a great mentor. Speaking of mentors, Kevin Donahue has been somebody over the past 5 years that I’ve been able to call or text when needed, and always leaves me feeling confident in big decisions. My lawyer Tye Gonser is another person I’d want to thank if we’re giving shoutouts. To have somebody that I can fully trust with legal decisions and not need to question him is a vital asset to have. Lastly, of course my parents for setting the example of how to treat people growing up. They’re the most loving, selfless people that I know who sometimes get the short end of the stick, but it never stops them from moving forward. When I’ve been at rock bottom, they’ve been there to pick me up as if nothing was ever going wrong.
Other: KyleMauch.com, SuccessAtSuccess.com