[quote style=”boxed”]When I first came up with my idea, I was afraid to share it because I thought people would steal it. But the few people I shared it with weren’t sure about my idea until I made a prototype and showed them, along with thousands of others. This is when my idea came to life.[/quote]
Stephen Walden graduated last May with an MBA in finance, an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship, a BA in theological studies, and zero job interviews lined up…but why? Did he fail too many classes? No, he was the runner up for valedictorian. Did he have a criminal record? No, it says he is clean. His parents asked him what the deal was, and he told them the truth. He is the CEO of Bosse Tools, the Ergonomic Tool Company, and he is reinventing manual labor.
Walden is a 23-year old entrepreneur from Phoenix, Arizona. He grew up playing baseball with his older brother, Chris, and admiring the work of both of his parents, Kevin and Judy, who independently run businesses of their own. Ever since Stephen was young, he stood out from the crowd, for better or for worse. Whether it was getting suspended from school in the 6th grade or winning the Man of the Year award at his high school, Stephen is a trend-setter. So it comes as no surprise that this motivated young man took a very unconventional route to becoming a budding entrepreneur before his 23rd birthday.
Today, Stephen resides in Manhattan Beach, California. He keeps close touch with his family and friends and enjoys keeping them on their toes. Stephen enjoys the outdoors, especially camping and fishing, and in the winter time, you will probably find him skiing the slopes in Colorado. Most of all, Stephen loves America, and is a proud citizen. He makes sure to fly the flag wherever he goes, whether from home, on his car, or his suitcase and backpack, and American flag goes wherever he does. So it isn’t all that surprising to hear that Stephen brings this emphasis into the workplace.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am working on Bosse Tools. As an overview, we are working to spread the word about ergonomic hardware tools as well as American made products. What we have done at Bosse Tools is unique. We took conventional tools like shovels, rakes, pitchforks, etc. and transformed them into ergonomically efficient implements that allow you to get more work done in less times, safely. The end goal is to diminish workplace injury.
To be more specific, we are working right now on the manufacturing specifications for Bosse Tools’ products. With our dedication to doing everything here within the borders of the United States, we want to make sure we use manufacturers and designers that share the same ideals. Just in the past few weeks, we have found ideal partners and are turning our attention to a crowdfunding campaign which is live on Kickstarter.
Where did the idea for Bosse Tools come from?
I wish I had a more exciting story to tell you, but honestly, I was working for my parents. I was using a shovel to dig a trench and later that day I was using a hedge trimmer to cut some foliage. Sitting on my back patio, sore and tired, I imagined putting the perpendicular trimmer handles onto a shovel. I thought, “why not?” So I built a prototype out of PVC pipe, and once I dug with the first one, I knew I was onto something big.
How do you make money?
The business model is simple, we sell tools and you buy them. Since we are selling consumer goods, the model is already out there. Getting the best product into the hands of the consumer is our goal. For now, we plan to manufacture in-house and assemble the products at our own facility – selling from our website www.bossetools.com. Down the road, we plan to distribute this product throughout the US by selling through big name retailers.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day at Bosse Tools doesn’t ever look like yesterday and probably will never look like tomorrow. Often times, I am out meeting with manufacturers and designers or meeting with magazine writers or bloggers. I like to be very hands on. Other times, I am working in my office responding to emails or creating new promotional materials. Since we are a brand new startup, I spend a lot of time trying to light fires in different areas, seeing what attention I can muster up.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In all honesty, talking to other people is what brings ideas to life. You can draw designs, make prototypes and 3D models, but this does no good if you don’t talk to others and see how they feel about your idea. Getting ideas out into the public realm is what breathes life into them. When I first came up with my idea, I was afraid to share it because I thought people would steal it. But the few people I shared it with weren’t sure about my idea until I made a prototype and showed them, along with thousands of others. This is when my idea came to life.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The push to bring manufacturing back to America is really exciting to me. American made products were the pride of our nation in the past, so bringing back manufacturing jobs to America is really exciting. I am especially excited because Bosse Tools promotes Made in America as one of its selling points, so this trend in consumerism couldn’t come at a better time.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was working at a nursery. Not for little kids, but for plants and trees. For 8 hours a day, I loaded bushes and flowers in people’s cars. It was in the Phoenix summer heat to top it off. I learned the value of a hard days work. At first, I didn’t like it at all. But over time, I came to appreciate the millions of back breaking jobs that people do to make a living wage. At the end of the summer, I was glad that I stuck it out, but I can’t say I rushed back for a second year.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. Nothing at all. Honestly.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be persistent. People are very happy to tell you no or that your idea is weak. If you decide to accept their opinion, then you will never make any progress. But if you are persistent, learn from mistakes, use “no” as a learning opportunity, then you can grow at every juncture.
There have been so many times when I pitched my product and ideas to investors or other business professionals and they tell me that this idea would never work, or there is already something out there like that. If I listened to them, I would never have gotten anywhere. Instead, I have made it my goal to persistently pursue my ideas and make sure they succeed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest failure I ever made as an entrepreneur was not settling my terms with some people that helped me with my designs. I was under the impression that someone was helping me out because they wanted to see me succeed, as a friend. They were actually helping me out and accumulating a giant invoice under the table. At the end of 8 months, they presented me with a $20,000 bill. The simple answer of overcoming this is that I paid them off and have made sure to be very clear with all business arrangements moving forward.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Shoes that charge batteries when you walk by storing kinetic energy from your movement.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would make people more conscious of waste. People throw away useful items, food, and other usable goods and they simply are wasted. There are parts of the world that suffer because of a lack of certain resources or goods, yet there are people who uncaringly waste them daily.
To tackle this problem, I would launch a campaign to exhibit one or two communities who suffers from a specific lack of goods and how they could truly benefit from what they lack. If people who live in excess realize that every time they leave the sink running or throw away half a plate of food, they are indirectly robbing others of this life-bearing resource, they would maybe be more careful about waste.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Very few people know that I secretly enjoy country music. I grew up disliking it very much, and most of my friends do not enjoy it. But as of late, I have begun to listen to it and really enjoy it. I can’t tell my parents though, they can’t stand it. Also, what’s more American than county music, right?
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Amazon Prime – you can get any product you would ever need within 48 hours
Costco Photo Center – you can order photos online incredibly cheap and pick them up the same day
Kayak – I travel almost every weekend, so comparing flight and hotel prices is invaluable
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Without spoiling the ending, I recommend that all entrepreneurs read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is not a typical entrepreneurial startup book, but rather a novel about a boy pursuing his dreams, which he believes are prophetic. His dreams tell him to go look for the treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. Along the way, he learns a lot about himself and what it means to define your goals and success. Without ruining the ending, I would say that this book teaches you that your dreams and treasures are not always as far away and grandiose as you might imagine.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
@IAmKidPresident – easily the most motivational 12-year old in the world, encouraging the world to “be awesome”
@GuyFieri – nothing is better than knowing the best places in town to eat, and he knows them all
@BarackObama – and not for republicans or democrats or anything in between. I think that every American should do what he can to be in touch with the leader of the nation, regardless of political party. I won’t comment on how I feel about our president, but I sure do believe in standing up for America and uniting as one.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I watched The Big Lebowski with my roommate a few nights ago. It is easily my favorite movie, but he had never seen it before. Watch it and tell me you didn’t laugh!
Who is your hero?
Without a doubt in my mind, my dad is my hero. I am inspired by many people, but I can honestly put him at the top of the list. My dad encourages me always to take adventures and risks because I will not always have these opportunities. His theory of never wasting a minute rings very true in my mind. Using every second to my advantage and never being idle are characteristics that I learned from a father who has always supported me in every endeavor. My dad also has prepared me and shaped me for a successful career by instilling the tenants of hard work in my mind. As a successful entrepreneur, my dad shares with me his tools of success. Watching him take a startup real estate and finance company from the ground up has been inspirational to me. The fact that my dad has succeeded and shared with me his secrets of success and failure has given me the proper preparation for a successful entrepreneurial career.
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs out there?
Here are my three words of wisdom that will ensure success: “Go” and “Don’t sleep.” First, I tell other entrepreneurs to “go” because so many people have good ideas, but they don’t do anything with them, and that’s frustrating. Get your ideas out there. Keep going, keep going, keep going. And second, I say “don’t sleep” because if you are truly passionate about your ideas, you won’t be able to sleep. They will keep you up at night. A true aspiring entrepreneur wants to spend every waking second playing with their ideas, because that is what it takes to succeed – no successful person will ever say, “wow, I wish I slept more during college.” We have 24 hours every day, might as well use them all.
What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
When I was 17, I took a week long scuba dive trip and lived on a sail boat in the Bahamas. We did an un-caged shark feed. Basically, we caught a bunch of fish, froze them, and drug them down to the ocean floor with us. Moments later, 10 foot reef sharks swarmed around us and we fed them the bait. No joke, not one of them even thought about attacking us, it was insane! That night, we hopped back in the water after dark and swam around with the same sharks. I still have all of my limbs and pictures of the dive to prove it.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.