From an initial $1,000 investment to over $5,000,000 in sales, endūr has grown tremendously in the last four years, and Rob Fraser, Founder, and CEO is here to tell the story.
Rob takes a building in public mentality and offers the coles notes of his experience founding a new venture to making his first dollar in the e-commerce space.
So grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy. The text is complete with reflections, insight, and helpful resources for those looking to pursue their own venture.
Rob is a former elite cyclist and 5x member of the Canadian National Mountain Bike Team. Ten years of Rob's life had been dedicated to a singular pursuit, and after retiring from the competitive sport at the age of 24, Rob found himself with a loss of direction.
endūr became his north star. In September 2016, the company was founded and has been fast-expanding from an initial $1,000 investment to over $5,000,000 in sales.
endūr is a performance apparel brand created to acknowledge adversity in the pursuit of progress and celebrate the journey rather than the end result. From humble beginnings as a basement operation, endūr has grown into an innovative brand that fosters a community where everyone, no matter their starting line, feels empowered to challenge the limits of what's possible. At our core, we believe in the power of compound improvement, with an athletic mindset serving as the ultimate foundation to build. Every day is an opportunity to show up and work towards your goals.
Starting a business out of a desire for freedom or money is misguided and unsustainable. If this is your singular motivation, you're going to burn out. Your motivation defines the 'why' of why you do what you do and is critical to business success.
Your idea should aim to solve a problem, and in a best-case scenario, a situation that you've personally experienced. It's much easier to sell your vision when the pain point is shared by many. The problem doesn't need to be life or death - aim to be simple.
endūr set out to solve two problems: First, create a brand that acknowledged adversity and celebrated the athletic journey in an industry dominated by a "win at all cost" mentality and emphasis on the end result. Second, to create a performance sock for expression in a market where athletic socks were boring and vibrant socks were low quality - we set out to merge the two, paired with a superior e-commerce buying experience.
Motivation, tips, tricks, and tools: 4 Hour Work Week
The podcast that documents the founding journey (season 1): StartUp Podcast
A high-level overview of essential components of founding a startup: Startup Checklist
Co-founders and Investors
Starting a business can be incredibly lonely and isolating. In the early days, your problems will be unique to you, and it helps to have a partner to lean on that understands exactly what you're going through. Selecting a co-founder should be taken as seriously as choosing who you're going to marry. Ensure you and your co-founder share the same values around work ethic, business goals, personal goals, business strategy and direction, finances, conflict resolution, and more. Starting a business with a friend because you like spending time with each other is usually a recipe for disaster.
Early investors take the most significant risk because they're investing in your vision and forecasted value. Often investment comes at the concept stage when you have little brand recognition or awareness. For the level of risk, they'll generally want a good chunk of equity. Remember, every time you sell equity, you're inviting another opinion, and it will be imperative the people in your corner in the early days share your vision, values, and goals.
With both co-founders and investors, make sure the proper legal documents are put in place, such as but not limited to shareholder agreements, shotgun clauses, vesting schedule, investment terms, and more. Do this with the advice of your corporate lawyer and accountant - and do not cheap out or seek shortcuts on this.
Selecting a co-founder: How to Find a CoFounder
Mission and Brand
To drive the initial sale is to convince customers of your product's utilitarian value - in essence, your product will make their life better.
Behind most great products is strong brand identity. A brand is what creates the emotional response that motivates loyalty beyond that initial purchase decision. Having a strong brand and loyal customers to drive repeat purchases means convincing your audience that your brand is synonymous with their lifestyle and identity.
Your mission will provide a north star for your brand and team. The brand and mission define the culture, and culture is where strategy lives and dies. The mission is the driving force behind why you do what you do. It is intended to inspire, ignite, guide, and more.
I'm a believer that missions can evolve, but some brands have theirs set in stone.
Growth and Marketing
Focus on organic growth to acquire customers that are actually interested in your product/ brand/ story. Paying to acquire early on will complicate your data. It's better to have 100 people that love what you do over 1000 people that just like what you do. These early adopters will help tell your story, promote the product, and also provide valuable feedback.
Build trust. This can be done through strategic partnership using the likeness of trusted brands where your association provides validation in the consumer's mind and makes it easier to choose you over competitors in the same space. Making yourself available for feedback and interacting with your community in the early days is also a great way to build trust and act on valid data that can have immediate improvements to your brand and product.
Focus on owned marketing channels as a means of spreading your revenue/risk across multiple streams. This includes email lists, Facebook groups, Instagram followers, etc. If you rely heavily on social media marketing, a simple change in the algorithm can flip you on your head, and you'll have no way to acquire customers.
Follow us on Instagram to benchmark strategy: @endurapparel
Like us on Facebook to benchmark strategy: @endurapparel
Join our newsletter to view templates/ flows: endūr newsletter
Sales and Financing
A lot of first-time founders forget to focus on the number one goal of business: making money. Most get into business for the wrong reasons and romanticize the 'entrepreneur lifestyle' and spend their days creating a business plan, raising money, and looking cool, all the while forgetting that making revenue and a profit is extremely important and challenging.
The best way to carve your own path and stay in control is to create a business that makes money and is funded by your own financial contributions. If you can do that for two years, you'll have access to non-dilutive financing, allowing you to scale and remain in control. If you're a mission-driven brand, control will be everything.
Focus on finding your business's economic engine. At endūr, we realized we could leverage our supply chain to create custom socks at high volume for other brands (also known as private labeling.) This allowed us to leverage better pricing and access free cash flow by selling large projects in advance, collecting cash, delivering products, and receiving terms from our manufacturing partners.
$10,000 LOC and Visa for small business: VanCity
Small business financing and resources: BDC
Free online business valuation and non-dilutive capital: Clearbanc
Building a Team
Your first hires/ team members are critical. These individuals will be taking a big risk on you, and that shouldn't be taken lightly. They'll often be accepting a below-market salary for future upside and opportunity. It's important to find individuals with entrepreneurial tendencies that are able to execute tasks with little direction. As a founder, you will be all over the place and likely not a great manager - this should be recognized, and you should aim to hire those that will thrive in that environment and help you.
It's important that, above all else, your early hires share the vision and integrate seamlessly into the culture. Like co-founder break-ups, early hire mistakes can be a deathblow to a business.
Employee stock option plans can be a great way to attract top talent to join your startup in the very early days. This should not be done without a lot of thought and is best done under the advice of your lawyer and accountant. In year 3+, you should look to offer market-rate within reason and provide other perks to attract talents, such as remote work, flexible schedules, benefits, and more.
Stock option plans explained: ESOP
Scale and Strategy
Think big. The transition from startup founder to scaleup CEO is often limited by the founder's ability to think big and take calculated risks. Ask yourself, 'what would achieving my 10-year goals in 6-months look like'?
Make the right investments. In the early days, it's easy to look at adding team members, contractors, and other 'expenses' as a hit to the bottom line, but the reality is that if done well, the investment pays off in significant ways and continues to compound over time.
With enough experience, data, and the ability to make educated assumptions, before making an investment, you should be able to calculate the return on investment (ROI) and determine if it's worth the time and money. You should be continually asking yourself if there are alternative ways to achieve the same results at a lower cost, and if not, how can we optimize the chances of maximizing the ROI.
I appreciate your time and attention. If you found my insights helpful and want to say thanks, you can support me (and your feet) by buying some socks! Use code 'ROBS-VIP' for a one time purchase of 20% off your order and free shipping.
The views and opinions expressed in these documents are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Endur Apparel Ltd. Any content provided by the author (Rob Fraser) is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
ARTICLE BY : MEGAN BEITEL
Megan is endūr’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator, massive guacamole and spin enthusiast, and avid hiker.
“Aloha is my go-to pair because the hibiscus is my favorite flower, and the high-contrast color scheme is just perfect."
ARTICLE BY : ROB FRASER
Rob is endūr’s Founder and CEO, 5x Canadian National Cyclist, and dad joke enthusiast.
“Mist is my favorite pair because it reminds me of over ten years spent in the forest riding and racing my bike around the world.”