Find partners you trust. The fastest way to grow a business is to find smart, driven individuals who you can delegate work to and will be proactive about finding solutions.
Daniel Kane is the CEO and Founder of The Ridge, the everyday essentials brand allowing you to carry less, and live more. The fast-growing company was founded in 2013 by Father-son team Daniel and Paul Kane who saw a need for a more streamlined and reliable way to carry and organize their cards and cash. Finding no solutions on the existing market, the duo launched the first Ridge Wallet concept on Kickstarter in April 2013, successfully earning $266,622 on a $12,000 goal, and expanded the success with a second campaign in August of the same year, earning $126,873. Today, the company earns eight-figure revenues with its flagship Ridge Wallet sitting in the front pockets of over a million people worldwide, and offers essentials that simplify and streamline daily life.
Where did the idea for The Ridge come from?
I have always hated having a bulky wallet in my back pocket. When I was in college, I started to use a rubber band around my cards and ID, and realized that it didn’t take a ton to carry the few items I frequently used. But, carrying around a rubber band of course looks pretty sloppy, and when I visited my parents during a break from school, my Dad could not stop giving me a hard time about it. I didn’t want to carry a rubber band around anymore but didn’t want to have to use the bifold I had been using, so my Father and I started to look and see what other solutions were on the market. We wanted to find some sort of middle ground between a nice sleek product that actually has substance but that also solves the issue of slimming down what you need to carry with you every day and kind of get rid of that traditional dad bulky leather wallet. When we couldn’t find something we liked, we decided to look into designing it ourselves.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with two things: coffee and walking my dog. I have a huge golden retriever that is up at the crack of dawn, so I try to tire him out so my wife can sleep in. I get into the office by 9am every day and have 30 minutes dedicated to emails while the rest of the team gets in. My days are pretty dynamic from product design to legal meetings, so to keep myself productive and focused across tasks, I set out to resolve one challenge every day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
All of my ideas start from a problem. I made the wallet to solve a common problem I had, and it turns out 1 million people seemed to have the same problem. So all of my ideas start there. Then I look at what solutions exist out there. Plenty of people make razors, so even if I have a problem with one, I bet there is a solution if I look hard enough. After identifying an issue and realizing there is a need for a better solution, I then start designing what I think I want. I have a prototype made, and then iterate from there. We can spend months on a product just to discover we were thinking about the problem all wrong. At the end of the day, we want to make the best version out there and we are quick to pivot if its not hitting that goal.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Forged Carbon. We have been making 3k carbon weave wallets for years, but we are seeing a lot of cool things happen on the forged side. Carbon in general is amazing; it makes pencil lead to diamonds and we are pushing the envelope on what forged carbon can be.It’s used right now in high-end sports cars and golf clubs, and I’m excited about other use cases we can find for it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Looking at all the information I have before making a decision. I’ll always look at all the data and facts in front of me and am very methodical about doing as much market research and testing before I ever spend money or move into production. Sometimes that slows things down, but it’s better than moving fast and breaking things sometimes.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Buy more bitcoin!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The Clippers are the best NBA team in LA.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Sleep. Only half joking here. People think they can power through all the work, and that’s when they make mistakes. Sometimes is better to be a day late, prepared, and well-rested.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Finding partners you trust. The fastest way to grow a business is to find smart, driven individuals who you can delegate work to and will be proactive about finding solutions.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The first business I ever started was Enclave, a watches and sunglasses e-commerce business that raised $180k on Kickstarter. Early on though I could tell the watch space was going to become quickly becoming saturated, the industry was almost too ripe for the ‘high quality for a low price’ and ‘cut out the middleman’ strategies that you see everywhere now. Nevertheless, Enclave gave me the experience with product manufacturing, e-commerce, and crowdfunding I needed, and the idea to compete on innovation rather than brand or business model.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think the world needs better boots. There have been a couple of fashion forward high profile boot companies, but we need better rugged and classic designs. More innovation in zipper tech, materials, etc. should lead to a stronger, lighter boot.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Kawhi Leonard Clippers Jersey!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use Monday.com to spec out all of our product delivery dates to and from our warehouse. It is a huge help to have a collaborative gantt chart so everything gets done on time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I’m such a nerd for this stuff. My dad always would read this to me growing up and I try to watch the movies every few years. I think reading fiction is a great way to stay creative and take a break from daily routine.
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s human nature to gripe, but I’m going ahead and doing the best I can.” – Elvis Presley
- Only make products that solve a problem and be intentional in how you solve it. Is it a problem only you have? Hundreds have? Thousands? Do the work to fully understand the space and problem you’re looking to solve holistically, and take the time to find the best, highest quality way to solve it.
- Aim to focus on at least one conflict or challenge everyday and be accountable in finding its resolution for your team
- Be methodical about doing as much market research and testing as you can before you spend your first dollar. It’s never worth having to redo work or financial spends if you aren’t properly prepared.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.