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Aman Advani, CEO & Co-Founder of Ministry of Supply comes from Atlanta, GA where he studied Industrial Engineering at Georgia Tech, before pursuing a career in Operational Strategy consulting at Deloitte and attending MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Ministry of Supply is pioneering a new way to dress for the office, with a system of wear-to-work clothing designed to take you further daily.

In this podcast episode, Aman shares the process of taking a new product from concept to thriving e-commerce business. We talk about the challenges of building the right team, as well as the importance of accountability as business owners.

Find people who believe in your business instead of trying to convince non-believers. - Aman Advani Click To Tweet

In This Episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast:

  • Aman shares the journey of how his e-commerce store went from concept product to market with several brick and mortar stores.
  • We discuss the challenges of building the right team.
  • We discuss creating forms of accountability in order to be more successful in business.
  • Aman also shares his top advice for new entrepreneurs – to align yourself with people who believe in your business instead of trying to convince those that don’t.

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Transcript

Note: Transcripts are created automatically and are not 100% accurate. However, they help our visitors find relevant content using our website’s search feature.

Welcome to the show Aman. Thanks so much for having me. Thanks for being on. Tell me about yourself outside of your business.

Yeah, for sure. So I, the most important thing I think I can share is that I’m a new Father, I have a five month old son at home named Asher, that I that I just love. And, and, and live here in Boston for a few years now came up for school, and really just never left and Olivia with my wife and my son. And we are people who enjoy the outdoors, but also really passionate about what we both do. She’s a pediatrician, and is, you know, an entrepreneur. And when did you know that you are an entrepreneur? You know, I think I’m still to some degree, figuring that out. You know, I think my partner and I both came at this from the perspective of we were customers who really didn’t see an option for what we really wanted to wear. And the best thing we could do in that case was just to go make it. And so in that way, we weren’t entrepreneurs that were looking for an idea, we were frustrated customers who decided to take that into our own hands.

Well, let’s go a little deeper into your business. How Tell me about your business and exactly how you got started.

Yeah, for sure. So our business in a nutshell is really just taking everything you love from your favorite Jim close to the kind of softness and stretching is in performance fibers and fabrics that you find in your favorite Nike, Lou lemon, Under Armour clothes. And taking that technology at its core, really reinventing it, to apply it to what you were to work. So take your staples like dress shirts, for instance, and how much you don’t enjoy ironing or dry cleaning your sweat, stains are kind of the rigidity of traditional shirting fabrics, we take that technology and create in this case, let’s say dress shirts that are super soft and stretchy, don’t hold sweat stains are ready to wear straight out of the dryer. And most importantly, super comfortable and look great. And so we take that approach to the entire wear to work wardrobe for men and women. So you’ll find kind of more buttoned up like full suits, but also more casual wear to work like polos and shorts that are super sharp and ready for any situation. We got into this, like I said, because we just really didn’t find this option on the market. So we were, you know, I was in consulting for four years prior to coming back to business school and, and which is wearing this kind of Brooks Brothers uniform, it was just super stiff and rigid and, you know, dreaded the dry cleaner and, and so it just kind of came from that frustration of saying there must be something better, there must be some way that can be as productive and kind of ready for anything as I am in my gym clothes. But but for the you know where to work wardrobes and I’m in, you know, 40, 50, 60 hours a week.

What’s been your greatest challenge as a business owner?

Yeah, you know, I think it’s a great question. I think if we’d asked answer that question really early on, we would probably give you a really tactical answer, like, you know, product development or something along those lines. It’s kind of tactical, I think, what we found is that the greatest opportunity we have is not necessarily just building a great product, but really building a great team. And it’s something that we kind of had a few missteps on early in front of figure out exactly what company’s values and culture would look like. But over the course of the last five years of building the this is really nailed down exactly what works and what doesn’t, in terms of shared values, our entire team really enjoys and lives every day. So I think it’s been kind of the most fun learning experience for me is, is how do you build a team who’s just super aligned and genuinely enjoys working with each other and coming to work? And I should have asked this initially, how long did it take you from the time that you had your idea to get the product just right to put it out to market?

Yeah, it’s a great question. So we, you know, yeah, I would say the short answer is yours. In the sense that we’re prototyping this for a very long time before we one came together as a team. But true, so any true scale and we’re in terms of selling the product. I mean, I think the first prototypes or hand sewn he had was and sewing dress shirts, and I was hand sewing, you know, performance professional dress socks in, you know, 2010, 2011, it wasn’t till 2012 that we actually, you know, hit the market hard and came out running. So it certainly wasn’t a quick process between the amount of r&d we had to do, but also just learning an industry we weren’t familiar with. So aside from not wanting to work for someone else, and aside from your family, what’s your why Yeah, actually know that bus at least admit a personal note, the first one you said there, which was sometimes myth that kind of working for yourself where I think that you certainly get to work for, you know, your vision, but you do have a pretty massive amount of accountability that I think a lot of, you know, new entrepreneurs don’t anticipate. And that’s that we are accountable to our board, obviously, in the sense that they kind of just for accountable to our investors that we’ve chosen to take on or accountable to our team in the sense that they’ve taken a big risk in their career to join our vision and we’re accountable to our customer, we trust us to do certain things that we need to execute on. So in that way, I think that that’s certainly wouldn’t be the top on my list of, of, you know, things that working for myself, but more so working for a vision I truly believe in. But the deeper why is that we really think people can be a lot happier and more productive and a to go achieve whatever is there after if they’re not worried about being held back by kind of super stiff and crummy and and and just uncomfortable clothing. Right? It seems so simple. But if you look at the world of sports, something we’ve embraced that you wouldn’t see somebody getting onto a you know, an NBA court wearing a long sleeve cotton shirt that we realized that functional fabrics and fabrication methods and design thinking and engineering thinking in apparel can have a massive impact on your day on your performance that that should be true across the board. Not just on a on an NB a court.

I love that. And I love what you said about that you are accountable to people. Even though you you’re a business owner. I interview a lot of people that I wouldn’t call them solo printers, but they don’t have investors. They don’t have a board. And so yeah, they do get to make the rules. And sometimes I get a little bit jealous. Yeah, a little bit just when they’re like, Oh, I can’t work from the beach. And I’m like, Well, I have to be in the office three days a week. But yeah, I am accountable. We are accountable to investors, and I’m accountable to my business partners and my in our clients and customers. Yeah, it’s totally true. So. So yeah, I think and then I guess I think that’s the difference between being in a start up or in a business that’s taken investment and being completely self funded, and totally No, either. But I will say that I think we’ve almost intentionally found forms of accountability, I’d say investors are more hands off, we elected to create a board that can hold us accountable and sensitive outside help in terms of driving to a vision can be really helpful. So I think in a world, you know, I think we could probably have done this self funded, we could have done it without a board. Yeah, we could, we could, we could have built something very different. I don’t think nearly as as as big or powerful as we are, you know, without a team. But I do think creating forms of accountability should be something that you almost seek and look forward to in the sense that you get to do this together, and everyone wins together instead of and again, it’s a personal preference, I think, is that we appreciate and welcome the the outside accountability. Yeah, yeah, totally agree with that. For me, I feel like it’s been important because I don’t think we would have gotten as far as we’ve gotten without the accountability. Yeah, I think that’s totally true.

What advice do you have for someone that’s just getting started in business? Yeah, you know, it’s a great question, again, is one that I think our answer for that over the last few years has certainly shift a shift and from one where we where we get really tactical advice on how to find the right manufacturing partners to one that we heard early on, but ignored and now really race, which is this idea of finding believers instead of convincing non believers. And that’s not to say that you should surround yourself with a bunch of people who just tell you that you’re right. But that’s finding people who deeply believe that your vision has kernels to it, that are real, and that would actually have a positive impact on people in the market. And surround yourself with those people that will still challenge you, and still kind of shift your thinking on the how, or the what, but that truly believe in your why. And I think that’s true for customers early on. It’s true for investors, it’s true for team members, if you can find that alignment in terms of your shared belief in the mission, it’s a lot more fun than trying to convince people who don’t believe in it. I like that. I love that a lot. Because there’s so many people, advisors and things like that, that will believe in you. But then there’ll be like, you know, I want you to do research on this. And when you do the research, and it’s something that really helps your business. So the person believed in you. They weren’t just but they weren’t just like, yes, people like, oh, you’re gonna be great. You can change anything.

Yeah, yeah, we use this word, a lot healthy contrast, which is saying that if you truly believe in the same outcome or intended outcome, then contrast becomes a lot more healthy, because you can share to them points of view on how to get there, but ultimately shared an empathy for each other. And since you both kind of want the same thing, I like that, if you could have lunch with one business thought leader, who would it be?

Oh, that’s such a great question. You know, there’s, there’s probably pick someone less iconic and more day to day in the sense that we’ve surrounded ourselves with a lot of entrepreneurs that are kind of one step ahead of us. And I think in that way, we found a group of people that run companies we really admire, you know, I throw out Matt Taylor attracts Smith or Connor Wilson at Thursday boots as people who when I have questions about things, you know, that there are people who are in the same boat as us who I really respect and admire that I’ll go to them and ask questions and say, Hey, how are you guys approaching this? And so we were fortunate to pick ones where we do get to have lunch. And we do get to ask those questions, kind of let your guard down. And what’s your favorite business book, you know, we read a book and now we’ve read it a few times called Good to Great by Jim Collins. And the really just kind of puts a really rational lens onto what makes a company successful that you don’t often see with, with, you know, slightly more emotional or narrative stories. This one’s a bit more scientific on an examination they did on companies who had sustained success over many, many years. And what drove that success. And so we found that just a really great way to think about not how we create a big flash in the pan business. But how do we create a business it’s truly timeless and will be around for a long time to come. What’s your favorite internet resource or app that just makes your life easier, you know, they give you a probably non traditional hints or here and tell you that we have this plugin that most of our team uses called boomerang.

And it’s it’s a really simple chrome Gmail plugin that helps you manage your inbox. But I think the wider level there is that it really helps to streamline communication to where, you know, a lot less falls through the cracks. And in a business like ours, where there are just tons of moving pieces, things falling through the cracks is probably one of our bigger risk when it whether it’s a small design update, or a big launch that’s going out the idea of managing your inbox nearly healthy ways critical to a lot of that. And this tool that we’ve all found really helpful called Boomerang for Gmail has been a really fun one to help us stay productive and on top of things.

Yeah, I like using Boomerang and having messages automatically come back to my inbox. If somebody does bond or like sometimes it’ll be like a plane reservation or some kind of reservation that I don’t need and but I need it later and I don’t want to keep it in my inbox because I like to be at inbox 00 couldn’t agree more it’s a little OCD of me and it hardly ever happens but I try to go for it agree more where can listeners find you online what’s your website where you add on social media yeah so we can we you know are the easiest way to find us online is always through our website Ministry of Supply com we do we you know we’re probably less active on Facebook certainly on Instagram you know you’ll find us if you do a quick search Ministry of Supply but we’re also pretty active here in the office it q at Ministry of Supply. com to ask questions, share ideas, give us feedback. And we love engaging with people often on just kind of a conversational basis in the last way It felt which is my favorite way to engage with us is just show up you can go to any one of our eight stores across the country and have a pretty lively conversation with the teams that are working there or to our headquarters here in Boston 105 South Street knock on the door come and say hi and probably offer you a coffee or a drink depending on the time of day that they sit around and chat with us about what you’re up to cool Amman thank you so much for sharing your story with us today.

Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

 

Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.

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