By Dan Nielsen
The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Josh Kent, owner and CEO of “SunFrog Shirts” says he formulated SunFrog to enable both designers and sellers to make money — because not everyone has both talents. SunFrog allows artists to sell shirts with their own artwork.
Business success is more achievable today than at any time in history, Josh Kent told about 100 high school students Tuesday morning.
Kent, owner and CEO of Gaylord-based SunFrog Shirts, should know. His company rocketed to lofty heights in the online commerce world since startup in 2012. The T-shirt company had 12 employees back then. Today it has 400 workers and a 100,000-square-foot production facility.
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The company did $100 million in business in 2016.
“I feel like I’m living a dream,” he told the group at the Youth Summit for Future Entrepreneurs, an annual event of Junior Achievement of Northwest Michigan.
The summit aims to give student participants a taste of the entrepreneurial life by guiding them through the process of brainstorming a product idea and thinking through the various steps needed to create a business around that idea.
Kent took the stage at Northwestern Michigan College’s Hagerty Center to kick off the summit with his story of entrepreneurial success. He said he has started and operated about 30 businesses in his lifetime and currently owns about a dozen. His greatest success is SunFrog.com, a website that allows artists and designers to sell T-shirts to the global marketplace.
He formulated SunFrog to enable both designers and sellers to make money — because not everyone has both talents.
“People who could sell well weren’t always the most artistic,” Kent said. “It becomes like a partnership.”
SunFrog allows artists to sell shirts with their own artwork. It also allows anyone to promote and sell any shirt available on SunFrog.
He told the students that the internet’s global reach has made it possible for anyone to compete with relatively little up-front investment.
“You can compete with a multi-million dollar business like never before,” he said.
He considers the internet a great equalizer that allows individuals to operate like businesses.
“Followers are money,” Kent said. “If you have traffic, you can make a lot of money online. We’re living in the wild west.”
That virtual wild west of online entrepreneurship has made it possible for individuals to think like corporations.
“We’re all going to be a media company,” he said. “You put out content and turn it into income.”
He told the crowd that he operates on a three-step process for business success: Think big, make a plan, take action. All three steps are necessary to make success happen. Entrepreneurs can be cautious and thoughtful, he said, but failing to act out of fear can prevent taking the steps necessary for success.
“Failure is just part of the process,” he said.