Origin Stories: SWAG.com CEO Jeremy Parker on the Startup Hustle and Lessons Learned from Jessie Itzler & David Goggins
Jeremy Parker is the Co-founder and CEO of Swag.com, the eCommerce platform for purchasing promotional materials that people actually want to keep. When you think of the promotional products industry, you might think of cheaply made items you pickup conferences only to eventually throw away. Or, god forbid you've ever had to order promotional products yourself and are aware of the nightmare of dealing with shipping inquiries, quality issues, and all manner of inconvenience synonymous with that industry. Swag.com's mission is to take the pain out of ordering customized promotional material with a focus on high quality, frictionless ordering, and seamless distribution. Swag.com launched in 2016 and has since become the fastest-growing company in the promotional product space. Inc. magazine recently included the company on its list of fastest-growing companies in the country. Swag.com’s thousands of customers include corporate giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and TikTok. In this conversation, Jeremy discusses the founding of Swag.com, what he learned from pivotal mentors, and how he was able to observe and utilize Uber's inventory-free model to great success.
Observe the Uber model of curation organization and obliterating friction.
The foundation of SWAG.com was born out of the constant frustration most people have when ordering branded items for their companies or clients. Something as simple as branded t-shirts or water bottles can be a nightmarish process consisting of hours of research, waiting around for samples to arrive, comparing price quotes, etc. And even then, quality is never guaranteed. Instead of starting their own custom branding company from scratch, Swag.com yielded the Uber model of brokering, whereby they found and vetted a series of high-quality and trusted custom merchandise providers and created a network of them that they would dispatch orders to through their e-commerce platform. This allowed them to move fast and operate on a large scale, all with a very lean company structure.
Pound the pavement. When he was just starting out with Swag.com, Jeremy landed an enormous client right out of the gate, Facebook. How did he get Facebook? It wasn't from months of cold calling and emailing and asking for a meeting; no, he showed up at their office. By inserting his own foot in the door, decision-makers met with him and ultimately signed on to be his client. This caused a social proof domino effect because once he announced that he had a titan like Facebook as a client, WeWork and Netflix jumped on board next and the snowball for Swag.com was very much set in motion. Clearly, showing up at someone's office without an appointment doesn't always work, and you're likely to be turned away but, if you do it enough times, who knows, you may be surprised at who will take an impromptu meeting with you and what it can lead to.
Surround yourself with greatness. In his earlier years, Jeremy worked very closely with Jessie Itzler, serial entrepreneur, social media personality,self-development guru, and husband to Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Jeremy's time with Jessie was incredibly formidable for his work ethic, entrepreneurial sensibility, intelligence, and overall hustle. If that wasn't enough, Jeremy got to spend a great deal of time with David Goggins; ex-Navy SEAL, motivational speaker, and downright badass in every sense of the word. The combination of these two mentors imbued Jeremy with innate entrepreneurial intelligence and a rock-solid discipline that he carried into Swag.com to the tune of great success. The saying goes that you become the sum total of the five people you spend the most amount of time with, so choose wisely. If you're around great, prosperous, and inspirational people, you're more than likely to turn out the same way.
Produced by Simpler Media