Turning Ideas Into Reality - The Entrepreneurial Journey Of Myles Doak

07/12/18  |  Ally Bongard  |  11203 views

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Myles Doak, a 27-year old entrepreneur and hockey fanatic from Newmarket, ON possesses the passion, motivation and burning appetite for success that we can all admire and respect. He has the prevailing ability to take his inspirational visions and turn them into reality through nothing less than hard work, enthusiasm and dedication, every step of the way. He is a kind-hearted individual who is excited about every move that he makes in life, whether that be business related or not. With every inch, he moves closer to defying gravity and ultimately, reaching his goals as an entrepreneur.

At only 27-years old, Myles has launched three successful products, beginning his expedition as a young man with nothing more than a hope to fulfill his dreams.

Let me take you on his entrepreneurial journey…

VENTURE #1
The Original Hockey Lace Belt - 
“The start of it all”
The idea of a belt made up of hockey laces originated from Doak being asked by his Uncle Jack as to why he doesn’t wear a real belt. Instead, he preferred to use a single hockey lace through his jean loops to hold them up.

LIGHTBULB! “What if there was an actual belt made from hockey laces?”.

Doak drove back to his parent’s home, asked his mom Nancy to teach him how to use a sewing machine, ripped apart old belts, and started sewing together 3 hockey laces in a row. Finally, he put an old belt buckle on it, punched a few holes, then drove back to his uncle’s house that same night.

The beginning of their grand slam success with The Original Hockey Lace Belt had come to life at that very moment, blowing up the internet and making headlines.

Doak’s Uncle Jack, who is an entrepreneur himself, made it a priority to conduct research and use his connections to find a hockey lace manufacturer. He ended up striking a deal with “Textile Manufacturing”, located in Toronto.

When we first come up with the idea, I’m like… this is a deal, I’m going 50/50 with my uncle Jack. This is sick, I’m a part of something, we’re going to build something. At this point, all I’m doing is sewing hockey laces together and making belts. He finds the manufacturer, and they are going to get them made. I’ll never forget when he said “we are 80/20, not 50/50”. At the time, I’m just a young kid and I was so devastated, but I was still a part of something. I wanted to do more but I was put onto the sideline. Looking back now though, I fully understand why.

The Original Hockey Lace Belt went into production and eventually, began selling in stores. Doak received his first royalty cheque for a total of $1,400, which at the time as a high school kid, made him feel nothing less than rich! As their product starts selling, Doak became even more fascinated with the business world. They ended up scoring an opportunity to pitch their product on Dragon’s Den. Needless to say, they scored a deal with not 1, not 2, but 3 Dragons.

This was pre-social media. I don’t even know how we did it back then. No marketing behind it, no nothing. We had no online website, no direct to consumer selling, but rather, sold to people, who sold to people, who sold to people, who then sold it to consumers. Lace belts went on to sell 55,000 units. It was on Dragon’s Den... we got a deal. It was a wonderful little venture. I learned a lot, and I think my uncle learned a lot but it was no crazy huge success. What it did was turn the light switch on for me. I was in my first year at St. Lawrence College when we watched the episode. They cut it so I didn’t say ONE word. I’ll never forget... I’m watching that episode, and saying to myself, “I’m going back on that show”.

Doak’s experience with this venture was a prime example of the amount of work it takes to turn an idea, into reality. 

After the Dragon’s Den episode aired, I remember going back to my uncle saying how sick it was, but that we should be doing more. We need to have our own website and be able to sell direct to consumer. I just felt at the time that it was just like “nah, it’s fine, it’s doing good”. I felt like I wanted more, I wanted more involvement, I wanted to be more a part of it, not just the idea person. When I knew that wasn’t going to happen, it put a chip on my own shoulder, to see if I could do it. I remember thinking that unless you tuck your shirt in, you aren’t going to see the laces. I was like “where would you see the laces?”. I’m like “you would see them on your feet!”. I came up with the idea of flip flops with hockey laces, so I went back to sewing hockey laces together, making prototypes. I remember digging 6-foot trenches with my dad to replace the pool piping, and I’m talking to him about this idea. My dad, he is so good with coming up with names. He’s like “I got it, I got it – Summer…Skates”. I spent 8 months finding a manufacturer on Alibaba from 12:00pm at night till 4:00am in the morning talking to Chinese suppliers over messenger. 

In his 20’s, Doak began to put a picture together of what he wanted his life to look like, and the kind of individual he wanted to be for himself, and others. He sees clearly the importance of being a kind person, while simultaneously “smashing his goals”. Sports have been a major influence his entire life, and a lot of his interest in being an entrepreneur coincides with his love for competing. He even admitted to getting competitive against his grandmother when playing scrabble!


VENTURE #2
SummerSkates

Not many can imagine the success that would coincide with a young adult experimenting with an undeveloped idea in his basement. For Myles, it was an idea that would take him to unimaginable heights and places, very rapidly. While home from college, Doak took a straightforward pair of flip-flops and completely transformed them. After developing a few prototypes, he went out searching for a manufacturer to assist with his vision.

I narrowed manufacturers down to 10, narrowing it down to 3, then finding the right one. It was about $15,000 for the first 3,000 pairs. I did them in 3 sizes… small, medium and large and 3 colors… white blue, yellow blue and black blue. I was telling an older group I hang out with that I need someone who can build websites, and has brought stuff into the country before, and this guy named Luke said he had done that before. He said he would put up half the money. He was willing to jump on it and had that spirit. I had already talked to my dad. I’m like “I’m doing this”. I said if you want to throw up the other half of the money, I’ll pay some type of royalty to you and my dad said “yup I’ll do it”. I told him I’d make sure I got his investment returned by the end of summer.

From this, SummerSkates were introduced to the world. By the time he had completed his second year of college, he had 3,000 pairs of his first SummerSkates that covered every square inch of his basement, floor to ceiling. In order to ensure his product was getting out there, he personally drove to each customer’s house, hand delivering them, while simultaneously ensuring that his social media presence was adequately building.

We go to pick up 3,000 pairs of flip fops. Me and Luke rent a U-Haul moving van. We start loading the van up. It is SO FULL - the van is SO FULL. Then the guy brings another skid of cardboard boxes full of flip flops! I call my dad and I’m like “dad, you need to come down here with your pickup truck, obviously we didn’t do the calculations right, we have no room for these flops!”. I also jump down from the loading dock onto a nail, through my foot. Couldn’t even walk on it but I was so fired up that nothing hurt me. It was the most basic flip flop you’ve ever seen in your life, but it was the best thing. I’m building pools at the time, but I’m selling my flip flops on Facebook to all my friends and family. I’m driving around in my 1999 Dodge Dakota, going house to house, selling them. Then, we start selling to stores.

Not much later, Doak received a very promising email from Kevin Hennessy, who had received a pair of SummerSkates from a friend. After bonding over their passion for building businesses, a partnership had formed that was going to take SummerSkates to the next level. Given his experience within many important business sectors, he had the knowledge and connections to be able to assist Doak with his vision to turn SummerSkates into a phenomenon. 

He had been a super high-level executive his whole life but left his job to go in a different direction, which was small business investments. He said he woke up at 4 in the morning saying he had to meet the person who came up with this product. Every time Kevin talks about this story it’s so funny because when we were planning on meeting I said, “is it okay if I bring my dad with me”. Right there he knew it was a young kid doing this.

He said he loved the flip flop and wanted to take it to the next level. He understood that the concept was cool and that the product was there, but it was lacking huge. We went 33%, 33%, 33% right there between me, Luke and Kevin. I can’t even speak on all the magical things that Kevin did. He used his network and skills to get the money behind it. We went into January with a new sandal that was absolutely amazing, it just blew our minds. SummerSkates 2.0. The SummerSkates that everyone knows now. SummerSkates is not SummerSkates without Kevin Hennessey. He taught me so much. At this time, we went to the Sourcer Sports Show in Niagara Falls and had the worst booth you’ve ever seen. We hadn’t even decided on what the final flip flop was. In the hotel the night before we were deciding what version we liked the most. We landed like 30 accounts off the front.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE! Doak and Hennessy signed a deal to fit players in the NHL Winter Classic and from the St. Louis Blues with SummerSkates. It took no time for professional hockey players to take note of this brewing concept and began to show their support off the ice by wearing SummerSkates and posting to their social media pages.  

I wanted to prove to myself and a little bit to my uncle that I could make something real out of an idea… and I did that. 4 years into it, we’ve sold like 180 000 pairs across North America, and we have over 150 accounts. I’ve gone to the NHL awards and the NHL All Star Game. We’ve done stuff with Wayne Gretzky. We’ve done stuff with Lemieux.  Kevin drove this ship. At this time, I’m 23-26, learning as much as I can. Watching the success of it, and watching it grow and evolve into something else gave me confidence. Seeing the world that Kevin opened up for us, opened up my eyes to see how big stuff can get. The only way you learn is by doing it and putting in the reps over, and over again. I feel unstoppable, and I’m just getting started. You sell a pair, someone take a picture of them, puts it on social media, 150 people see it, 60 actually give a s***, 20 people look more into it, and 5 people may buy it.

Despite the huge success that coincides with SummerSkates, Doak still views himself as a rookie, always striving to learn more. He noted that being an entrepreneur has to be in you, and that since he was 18-years old, it’s all he’s been thinking about. Envisioning himself at a desk job, he said knew would make him crazy.

It’s in me. You need to have extreme patience, not worry about what other people think about what you are doing, and you have to have extreme worth ethic with no immediate expectation for a return on investment. I’m just starting to receive some of the benefits, and I’ve been hacking away since I was 23. For me, to innovate and create, it’s the only thing. In high school I hated the classes they were teaching and it made me feel dumb. I couldn’t put the correct effort into doing well, and playing sports was my only output.

Right out of college, Doak walked into SummerSkates full-time. He dedicated his time working from the basement of his parent’s house, and working from Kevin’s home, making nothing more than $1,000 a month. They sold SummerSkates for 2-years until they invested in an office in Newmarket, ON. Now, they have a team in place, and this is currently where their dedication lies.

In early college stages, lost, not knowing much, meeting my girlfriend Elisa, getting to know her and her family, she gave me the confidence within myself to be like “you are good”. Every time I was broke, she would float me, so, I would buy her an island. With early SummerSkate days, I had to call Elisa to send me money just to put gas in my truck.

Dying to get your hands on a pair of SummerSkates? Purchase a pair by clicking here


VENTURE #3
Big Balls
Big Balls were designed to be 30% larger than a regular golf ball, with the capability of advancing your stroke, in a shorter amount of time. With the exact same feel and weight as a traditional golf ball, Big Balls were developed with a specific task in mind.  

I want to have an idea, do the steps it takes, create it, then make it into a real product. I always saw people putting towards dimes and when I was younger, I use to shoot hoops with over sized basketballs. When you go back to the regular sized ball, it’s like throwing it into a hula-hoop. The very first Big Ball prototype was a golf ball wrapped in electrical tape, over and over. It couldn’t even roll straight – it didn’t even have a chance! Back to Alibaba I went... straight night hustling. SummerSkates is my main business and what I love. I want to accomplish those goals before I do anything else. I know how long it takes, so I need things brewing up underneath so that when I am ready, I can build it up.

Doak spent night after night working on this side project for 2 years, creating prototypes, getting samples, making revisions, completing testing, and talking to suppliers. He continuously pushed suppliers for answers on their ability to create an oversized golf ball, which was not an easy task.

Guess what – no one can make one! They can make golf balls, but not an over sized one!

The harsh reality was that if he wanted to do this, he was going to have to create a mold, and it was going to run him a solid $12,000. Through determination, he proceeded, and received 12 over sized golf balls that were 30% bigger, and were “perfect”, he said. He decided it was in his best interest to start a Kickstarter campaign, in order to get his product out there with a goal of $20,000. No one said that being an entrepreneur was an easy task, and there were certainly times where he felt defeated.  

I started talking with an ad agency to assist with my Kickstarter. We get this nasty video made and I pay them $15,000. We launched it, and these people did nothing! They were doing something, but with no results. I had to hustle my face off. I had to get my dad to throw out the rest of the money to hit that $20,000 goal. I ended up losing money with this. Regardless, I knew Big Balls would be the perfect Dragon’s Den comeback. You see it in your head and it becomes real.

Well, as Mike Stud would say, “everything I see up in my head just comes to life” …

Got my favorite girl, waking up in my bed it’s only right. Anyways! In January, I paid for 5000 balls to get made, and the supplier delays me. At the same time, Dragon’s Den reaches out to me. The producer saw my name on the Kickstarter and recognized it. They said they would love for me to come on their “second chances” show. I couldn’t give them a decision right then because I had supplier issues, but that I would let them know. I told my supplier they had to fly me at least 800 balls because I had to fulfill my Kickstarter orders. They come, and they are the worst things I’ve ever seen. All broken, all warped. Not to mention, Ally, me and Elisa break up at this time! Devastated over that. Received horrible balls. I’m like “oh my god, this is ridiculous”. I eventually agree to go on Dragon’s Den and that I’m going to make it work. I do the pitch, and I kill it. I still had no balls by July and I fought with my supplier back and forth. By August, I give up. More. Money. Lost. 

Knowing the importance of gaining public exposure and partnering up with an expert, Doak made his second appearance on the hit CBC show “Dragon’s Den”, this time alone. He was successful in striking a deal. He knew in his heart the kind of business that Big Balls could be, and that it would be the first building block to the entrepreneurial empire he would like to build.

I drove down there at 6:00am in the morning with a bunch of balls that were horrible with my POP display that I made in a week. Going down there into CBC I told myself “I am 100% going to get a deal, I just know it”. I got a deal. I drove home blasting music, singing and dancing, but I still needed to figure out manufacturing issues. I had lost so much money. It was the worst ever. I did end up getting a new supplier, dialed him in and paid for molds. I knew I had to do this. When I watched myself on Dragon’s Den again I thought... “I did it”. I watched it with all my friends and family, and Ally. I dreamt of this. I worked at it, and it became real. Clearly, the hardest thing in the world was to make an over sized golf ball. I did not know this! 

When asking Doak how he would define success, he told me, “wake up every single day, and be happy – to me, that’s it”. In reality, many people have ideas, but very few actually execute. Myles Doak, executes. 

I don’t want to run a huge business with 500 employees. I like to have the idea, and then build it. I want to have a small team of people who love to come to work every single day. I look at my work like little projects. Big Balls is one. I would love to do a hot sauce company. We said drinking one night “SOTHAUCE” – put it on the record! I’ll see you in 2021. I believe my worth ethic is unbelievable and I am obsessed with high achieving individuals. All I do is research people who interest me. Rob Dyrdek for example - I am obsessed with how he thinks about life and what is trying to do. There are bad ass people out there and you think to yourself “these are regular human beings. Why can’t I go out and do ridiculous s*** too”.

I have a huge respect for those who will stop at absolutely nothing to ensure that their innovative ideas are being put out into the world. WE ARE THE FUTURE and therefore, must support one another at all times. Myles Doak is a personal friend of mine – a great friend, actually. Myself and many of his other friends can vouch for the countless sleepless nights, the hard work, and the dedication that he consistently spills into his work. For those of you who do not know him, ask him what his favorite day of the week is. I bet you wouldn’t guess it’d be Monday, but it is.

You can get so much done in a week. On Monday, I’m like “OK, this is a brand-new week. You need to kill it”. You work every day to meet small goals. I also have the best friend group to support me. My family supports me 100%, but I have a hard time explaining to them how grateful I am for them. On the other side, I have a core group of friends who do hear me. Hearing me speak time and time again from early days on what I wanted to build. I always say this, that I am not me without the people I surround myself with. They give me the confidence to be my true self, and let me run free with what I believe, say and do. There is no me without the legends around me.

At the end of the day, the harder your work, the higher your chances are for success. Undoubtedly, you will fall prior to reaching success, but it’s about getting back up, and making things happen. For Myles Doak, business happiness coincides with having an idea, inventing it, moving through the steps to create it, then putting it out into the world. His entrepreneurial journey does not stop here, and the future is looking very bright for this enthusiastic entrepreneur. 

 

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