The Founders Behind Cult Favorite Sneaker Brand APL Share 4 Ways All Entrepreneurs Can Mirror Their Success With triple digit growth over several years, a decade worth of innovation and a co-founder relationship that was literally birthed, APL has four epic lessons for you to take with you into your developmental journey.
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When something goes well in your business, you probably say "Yay!" Adam and Ryan Goldston, co-founders of APL, say "YOY!"
They don't actually say that, but if I were them, I would. YOY: Year-over-year growth, because APL has seen triple-digit growth for many years in its decade-plus of existence. In 2020, it was up 102% despite the challenges many businesses faced. And in 2021 to date, it's up 91% over that 102% growth.
When I met with Adam and Ryan, they were full of excitement. They were planning for two epic launches, one in July and one in September, that have been kept a complete secret for almost three years. As someone who often sends paragraph sneak peeks of my articles via text as I write them, I can't imagine containing my excitement for product development that spans not months, but years, but that's why I'm not the founder of cult favorite sneaker brand.
So how did the two brothers succeed to the point of having a day in Los Angeles named after their company, get honored as two of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 35 by the White House and be named two of the 100 most inspiring entrepreneurs of 2020 by Goldman Sachs?
The leaders in luxury performance shared four key things you can adopt in your business to mirror the success of APL today:
Create a vision a team can follow, and that will lead to innovative autonomy
Though team cost and team development can be a pain point for most, Adam and Ryan consider APL's team to be its greatest strength. "We can give them a project and know not only are they going to complete it, but they are also going to astound us," Adam shared. APL has created an environment of freedom and decision-making power with its team, all while keeping an entrepreneurial mindset consistent throughout its small office. The two credit this as the reason APL stayed successful and profitable in 2020.
Design influencer strategies around your actual customers
"We never send a product to someone who doesn't want it," Ryan says, "In fact, we are far more likely to send products to our actual customers. It's vital to support those that have actually been supporting your brand."
APL grew by word-of-mouth and other compound effects, the two say. Word-of-mouth is far more favorable if you stick to the humans who actually buy your products because they know it and love it. They'll share with their circles much faster than influencers you pay to promote your product.
Make every aspect of your development meaningful
APL only creates a few silhouettes of products, which allows it to design new textures and colors in each product. Because of this, its customers know the brand for only creating high-performing equipment, versus creating trendy products for the sake of being trendy. With those two exciting launches coming in July and September, it's going to be extremely motivating to see what the two determined was meaningful enough to add to the APL collection.
When I plied the brothers for more information, Ryan shared "If you like APL, you're really going to be excited to see what we've created." I then stared at them to see if they'd break, but no dice, so I'm in the same boat as you...
Write your legacy as you go, and enjoy the ride
This was by far my favorite tidbit, and I hope you hear this one the loudest:
"Most people don't design something to be proud of decades later," Adam says. "We are designing each day to be the most fantastic experience not only the two of us have ever had, but our team and our customers as well. Wake up every day excited, enjoy the journey and wait until the end of it to define your legacy, versus trying so hard to create it while you are in the midst of it."