ABC Shark Tank investor and FUBU founder Daymond John knows what it takes to succeed in business. His journey is a business blueprint for many aspiring entrepreneurs. That’s why, in 2015 he became a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, working with the White House to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs across the globe, providing opportunities and pathways to capital and skills, and helping to inspire success in others.
John is set to travel with President Obama to the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University. With more than 700 entrepreneurs from 170 countries and 350 investors in attendance, he’s helping to bring the world to Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley to the world.
For Us By Us
Before he became a shark, John was a pioneer in streetwear as the CEO/founder of the fashion brand FUBU, which grew to more than $6 billion in product sales. His entrepreneurial journey began when he was 20, living at home with the new sound of hip-hop breaking out from the streets to the stores. “Records were flying off the shelves, and although my community was underserved in resources, we were rich with hustle. I knew it was time for a brand that represented this rise and movement—a brand that was “For Us By Us,” he recalls.
But he was broke, with no guidance on how to make his dream a reality. So, he started sewing and stitching at night. “I made 40 hats—and my brand FUBU was born. At the time, I didn’t know how to access capital or source material. I didn’t know how to build a business,” he recounts.
Celebrity Product Placement
In a savvy business marketing move he got his neighbor, the rising rapper L.L. Cool J, to take a photo wearing a FUBU hat. “I spent my last dollars mailing that photo to trade buyers. It was my big break. Suddenly, every major music artist was begging to wear my swag and I amassed over $300,000 in orders.” To meet demand, he and his three partners transformed his childhood home into a full-on clothing factory. During that time, he learned to exercise what he calls “The Power of Broke.” By harnessing that power and that drive, he managed to turn FUBU into a multibillion-dollar iconic brand.
Global Rising Stars
John says that his challenges mirror the potential of millions of young entrepreneurs here and abroad, who have the drive and spirit to imagine, innovate, and create. In a released statement, he noted some rising global stars like Sumana Shrestha, who started Medication for Nepal, an organization that uses technology to tackle inefficiencies and high healthcare costs; and Evans Wadongo from Kenya, the co-founder of GreenWize Energy, which is advancing cutting-edge, African-designed renewable energy products and solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.