Some men are born to be business success stories. They hit the ground running when opportunity knocks, and after that, they just keep going. That’s definitely the case for Blake Mycoskie. The founder of Toms shoes and a former guest on Shark Tank, has amassed a net worth of over $300 million during his career as an entrepreneur.
If you like success stories, Mycoskie should definitely be one of your go-to guys, so let’s trace his journey and see how he made millions while still maintaining a social conscience.
Mycoskie was born in Arlington, Texas in 1976, to a mother who was an author and a father who worked as an orthopedic surgeon. He went to SMU on a partial tennis scholarship, but an Achilles tendon injury ended whatever thoughts he might have had about an athletic career.
Mycoskie was a dual major in philosophy and business at SMU, and he made a wise choice by choosing to focus on business. His first endeavor was laundry, and he quickly displayed a flair for it, generating $1 million in sales before selling it to his partner in 1999.
Charting a Business Path
Having found success in the laundry business, Mycoskie moved to Nashville and started an outdoor billboard that promoted country music. That company was profitable, too, and Mycoskie once again sold it, this time to Clear Channel.
His next endeavor wasn’t in the world of business, however. Mycoskie and his sister Paige applied to be on the cast of the reality contest show, “The Amazing Race.” They competed in the second season in 2001 and won a million dollars.
The business venture that followed involved co-founding a cable network, Reality Central. The network had some success until Rupert Murdoch founded a competing channel and began outbidding potential advertisers. Undeterred, Mycoskie founded a driver’s ed company, along with a marketing firm to promote it.
Mycoskie finally hit pay dirt in the startup merry-go-round when he was vacationing in Argentina and he met a woman from a volunteer organization whose mission was providing shoes for children in need.
That turned out to be his light-bulb moment, and when Mycoskie went back to work and founded the business that would define his success – Shoes for Tomorrow, which was eventually shortened to Toms.
Mycoskie’s entrepreneurial instincts were tempered by generosity, to the point where he’s given about 10 million pairs of shoes to people in need. He expanded his business to eyeglasses, and he began bringing that product to those in need.
By 2011, Mycoskie had found his business formula, and ever since he’s been a pioneer in the emerging field of social entrepreneurship. He starts businesses with offerings that also fill a niche in countries where poverty or dire circumstances have created an acute need for that product.
Mycoskie’s pattern also consists of selling his companies for a huge profit once they’re successful, and he’s done the same with his shoe company, selling 50 percent of it to Bain Capital while retaining his role as “Chief Shoe Giver.”
His latest venture is a wellness company called Madefor which he founded early in 2020, which obviously coincided with the start of the pandemic.
The company is selling kits that are designed to promote an awareness of behavior and mindset, but it seems safe to say that the pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into its short-term development.
Mycoskie’s personal life hasn’t been as smooth as his business success, relatively speaking. His first marriage ended in divorce after he and his now ex-wife, Heather Lang, had two children.
He now lives in Wyoming and has been linked to Molly Holm, the model and former fund manager whose strong Christian orientation seems to suit the entrepreneur.