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How 2 Reebok Execs Rebooted to Launch a Shoe Startup How two former big-league execs learned to play small ball.

By Jared Keller

This story appears in the June 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Dan Saelinger

Marcus Wilson and Michael Schaeffer had big careers in the athletic shoe business: Schaeffer was Reebok's global creative director, and Wilson was its head of brand strategy. But two years ago, they jumped to the opposite end of the market: They became the little guys, launching a shoe startup called NoBull that caters to CrossFitters. They now sponsor four CrossFit celebrities and have 11 shoe styles for sale, and have learned a lot about the benefits of being small.

Embrace simplicity:

"At big companies, there are a lot of layers and lots of input, and you end up with very complex products," says Schaeffer. NoBull has no time for that. Layers of input? There aren't even layers of people. Schaeffer says that allows his company to make something Reebok can't: Its signature style is cut from one piece of material, without extra features competing for attention. "There's a desire to create something simple, understandable, functionally sound, that came out of a stripped-down process."