Meet the Sharks: Daymond John

Viewers of the television show, Shark Tank, may be familiar with Daymond John.  John, a leading entrepreneur, is the founder of the clothing line, FUBU.  FUBU began in 1992 when, John enlisted a neighbor, Carl Brown, to help him sew hats.  These were made in a similar style to popular wool hats that were being sold for $20 in the New York area.  John and Brown sold their homespun hats for $10 in front of the New York Coliseum.  They sold all 80 of them in one day.

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After investing $100,000 from the mortgage of his mother's house, John also rounded up good friends, J. Alexander Martin and Keith Perrin, to partake in building the business.  They sewed the FUBU label onto T-shirts, sweatshirts and hockey jerseys.  The next year, John asked an old neighborhood friend, LL Cool J, to wear a FUBU tee to promote the brand.  After that, LL Cool J wore a FUBU hat during an ad for The Gap.  He had the line “for us, by us” in his rap for the ad.  In 1994, after participating in the Las Vegas trade show, Magic, John and his partners received over $300,000 worth of orders for FUBU.  This put them in the nationwide spotlight.  FUBU later signed deals with Macy's, J.C. Penny, Samsung and the NBA.  By 1998, FUBU had amassed $350 million in revenues.

Since that time, FUBU has marketed itself largely overseas and in 2010 relaunched in the U.S. as FB Legacy.  John's over $6 million in sales has allowed him to invest in other fledgling businesses.  From the looks of things, John invested $700,000 during his first season on Shark Tank in 2009.  John continues to be an inspiration to the entrepreneur.  Being known as the CEO of FUBU has allowed John to share his knowledge through public speaking and authorship.  His first book, Display of Power, was deemed one of the best business books of 2007.  John has become respected as a business and motivational speaker.  He has also consulted with celebrities and brands to create additional revenue sources.  With clients like Pitbull and the Miss Universe Organization, John continues to grow in his business dealings.

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John gives the credit for the birth of his entrepreneurial drive to his participation in an unusual work study program during high school.  This program allowed John to work full time one week then alternate and attend school the next week throughout the school year.  This drive led him to have a commuter van service after high school.  Examining the early steps that John took can help an entrepreneur realize that it starts with looking at a situation and seeing an opportunity to do it better in some way.  Don't be afraid to ask trusted friends to partner up if need be.  Confidence in your product of or services is important.  You might have to work in some other capacity while getting your operation together.  It's also important to share your knowledge and wisdom once you're thriving.  Perhaps it's important to recall your start and once you're able to do so, invest in others in some way.  It may not only help that person become a successful entrepreneur, but further your earning potential as well.


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