Show up, put in the work, remain consistent and stay dedicated to the vision.
Tristan Queen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Arcade Belts, the market leader in innovative belts designed to function better, last longer, and ensure comfort for active individuals. Tristan is responsible for managing the overall brand direction and growth strategy for Arcade Belts, including finance, product, marketing and sustainability. Tristan founded the company in 2010 at the base of Squaw Valley, drawing energy and inspiration from the Northern California environment.
Prior to his work with Arcade Belts, Tristan’s career focus was centered around competitive athletics, where he transitioned from coaching and event judging to grassroots marketing campaigns for various sporting goods brands. He has a degree in Integrative Physiology from CU Boulder.
When he isn’t working, Tristan can be found traveling, spending time with family, and spending as much time as possible being active in the outdoors. Tristan resides in Lake Tahoe, CA, with his wife, Allison, and son, Preston.
Where did the idea for Arcade Belts come from?
Arcade started as a simple concept, solely to create a belt that functioned better than anything else we could find in the market. At the time, our lives revolved around snow, travel, surf and anything else we could get ourselves into that involved outdoor adventure. We needed something to hold our pants up and that was durable, that moved and flexed with like other performance gear and that had a hit of personality that we didn’t see offered in the marketplace. The goal was to take the best parts of what already existed and elevate them to a level where you could really have one belt for any activity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m not a great sleeper and I have a 3-year-old, so my days can go sideways pretty easily. But, for the most part I’ve always liked the early morning hours because of the clarity and quiet, so I typically leave the house in the dark and get a few hours of work in before the big challenges of the day really start rumbling to life. If I can feel like a have a supercharged morning and half my workday is done by late morning, then I can shift into a more collaborative space working with our team the rest of the day.
Since I don’t see my wife or kid in the mornings, I tend to cut the workday off at about 4 in order to get a proper afternoon and evening with the family.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think it’s a bit of magic and science blended together. Inspiration can hit from anywhere, so having your eyes and ears open all the time is the best way to get the idea started in the first place. Some of our best ideas have come from a customer service inquiry or a random article in an in-flight magazine or somewhere random like that.
We are pretty diligent and disciplined in our approach to bringing ideas to life. It’s usually a very collaborative process with as many inputs as possible in order to arrive at the best go-forward plan. Our team is super talented and focused, so we tend to start with a loose structure around an idea and everyone is confident that the path will lead to the right end result. It’s both formulaic and freestyle.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love the fact that people are looking for equipment and apparel that is multi-functional and can be worn for many different uses. The work kit is starting to look more and more like the adventure kit, which is something we are right at the center of.
I also am really excited and proud that the outdoor industry is making such advancements with sustainable practices. It’s a very complex issue and there is a very long road ahead but having a sustainability plan is almost mandatory at this point and it’s challenging all of us to collectively focus on better product and manufacturing solutions.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I ask a lot of questions and rely on a large network of people for support. I have a lot of conviction in my ideas, but I can only learn so much and absorb so much information. I really believe that the people that surround me are the ones responsible for a lot of the productivity. Also, I drink a lot of coffee.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Look inward for direction rather than outward. As a young person, it’s easy to start looking under every rock for something that might give you direction, but my biggest gains have come from inward reflection.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Show up. I think that is the most important component for success. Show up, put in the work, remain consistent and stay dedicated to the vision.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Creating an open format for feedback from anyone and everyone associated with the company. This goes all the way down to staff at the shops we sell our products at. We are always willing to listen to ideas on how we can be a better company.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Just like in dating, I’ve committed to partnerships in the past that had to be ended, simply because our priorities or values did not align. The only way to overcome it is to address it quickly, but responsibly and move on. It always ends up being in the best interest of both parties in the long run.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I find myself drinking protein drinks at work, not really for protein, but more to fill you up and get some vitamins when a proper lunch isn’t convenient. Maybe a protein drink creamer for coffee, like Muscle Milk meets half and half? This might exist, I’m going to resist the urge to Google it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’d have to say something very simple like the water delivery for our office. It’s so basic and simple and doesn’t seem impactful, but amidst all the noise and chaos at a company, it represents a small investment in our people that keeps them healthy, removes any need for disposable water bottles and is one little piece that when added with the other little pieces add up to a more healthy and productive daily environment for our people.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We fully committed to a complete build out of our ERP system, specifically NetSuite. It was a big investment for a small company, but it gives us a ton of insight, clarity and the power to run our business at maximum efficiency.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. It’s the one business book that I continuously come back to even though it’s not intended specifically for how I find myself using it. If you are trying to do something different and want to scale it while staying true to the roots, I haven’t found a better book for organizing your thoughts and strategies.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t use a lot of quotes for motivation, but I always liked the following, because when you need to hear it, you probably really need to hear it!
“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’
The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’
- Look inward for direction rather than outward.
- Showing up is the most important component for success.
- Inspiration can hit from anywhere, so having your eyes and ears open all the time is the best way to get the idea started in the first place.
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.