What Troy Brown has to do with startups, or how to get a job for a consumer good start-up

Ross, my business partner, his title is CEO, and I were laughing the other day as we stuffed t-shirt scraps into trash bags,

‘Imagine if we wrote this in our job description: Cut thousands of t-shirts into square foot by square foot pieces, and then wait until t-shirt scrap pile took over too much space in office, and then drive  dozens of gallon trash bags to Worcester to get them recycled so that Millbury Recycling can break them down into particles that can be stuffed into car seats.”

A potential investor recently told us we had to be more realistic about our job duties, and as an exercise, write down what our duties consist of during the week. This seemed crazy at the time, but as I gave it some more thought, while typing  USPS delivery confirmation codes, ‘3432 2134…” into shopify, I thought about how it could be useful.

By the time the calendar year comes to an end, we need to hire someone to help us do a lot of the daily tasks that two people can not undertake by themselves if the business is going to truly grow. For the football fans out there, we need a Troy Brown. He is in the Patriots hall of fame now, but he started on special teams, became a wide receiver, also led the team in interceptions, and at one point, even played quarterback. Sometimes he got all the glory, sometimes none, but he won two super bowls.

For the non sports fan, think about all the little things you do in life that seem like an after thought, or a waste of time, or a nuisance when you have other things to, but in the end are essential. Find a good car insurance plan, sell your car, buy a car, research cars online, have your car mechanic do a tune up, renew your license, register to vote, call the doctor about an ache in your back that is not going away, make sure to schedule your dentist appointment, call the landlord about the leaking sink, the water gets too hot, the water doesn’t get hot at all, go out with your friends, handle your friends who think you aren’t spending enough time with them, apologize to your friend about a certain situation that you know you are right, but it’s better if you just say you are sorry, tell your mother you will visit on the 21st, be fifteen minutes late on the 21st because your brother was late, but come up with a different excuse for your mother. It goes on, right?

Think about Troy Brown and think about chores and properly handling friends and family, and that’s what working at a start-up is like, especially a Project Repat start-up.

People still send cover letters and resumes, but that’s not how we evaluate who could be successful in this role, because the role is not defined, and the duties aren’t stable. People say you need to be flexible to work in a start-up, but what does that actually mean?

This is what your first day may look like; come in twenty minutes earlier than expected  and process dozens of boxes and make sure everyone has the proper amount of t-shirt blankets in the box, if they don’t send them an email requesting more shirts or asking if it’s okay to use the backs for the fronts. Later, go to staples to pick up more stickers and posters, while answering customer service, then drop off blanket boxes at a store that has requested them, while retweeting two different customers who posted a picture of their Repat blanket. Come back to the office and brainstorm more creative ways to sell online and create engagement programs on college campuses and marathons, then summarize brainstorming, and send to advisor. Call a few races and ask what they think of the idea, and then decide what resources to allocate. Take an hour and research all the PTAs in these zipcodes and ask them if they need new fundraising mechanism.  Make sure to write thank you notes to a few council members who came by the office earlier in the day, and prepare a pitch deck for a brand that we may be partnering with, but don’t forget to take out the trash, and pick up a box from the landlord since there was nobody in the office when FedEx came.

As you can see, sometimes the job is glamorous, sometimes it’s not, but it is always interesting, well, sometimes it’s not, but sometimes you win the t-shirt blanket super bowl.

I still haven’t seen a good description of a first or second hire for a consumer good start-up with a social mission, and maybe this can start a trend to a more realistic kind of job description. Someone recently told me that they hire people who have worked restaurant jobs, and that may be a great indicator. You have to take a lot of shit, fit through small places, always be attentive and know that the customer comes first, be on time, and for the most, do whatever it takes. That’s more like it.

We are trying to make an impact, and give consumers the opportunity to buy a great product that doesn’t give a shoe every time someone buys, but has the social mission ingrained in the purchase. When you buy this product, it means you are supporting fair wage work in the USA, but in order to satisfy our customers and grow the business there is a lot of leg work that goes on in the background.

If what we do sounds interesting, but more importantly, you are up for the challenge, send us your thoughts on this post to madeinusa@projectrepat.com

  • Oct 8
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