Failure is never simple. Setting oneself up for success in the future can be accomplished by learning the proper lessons from failure.

Consider Joe Kudla, the 45-year-old CEO and founder of Encinitas, California-based Vuori, a sports gear firm with a rapid growth trajectory whose most recent valuation was $4 billion in 2021.

Kudla had already attempted and failed to launch two other clothing brands before he started Vuori in 2014.
One was Sammy Jo, a modern women’s clothing company. The other was a T-shirt company he had also founded and named Vuori, which is Finnish for “mountain.”

He told CNBC Make It, “In the back of your mind, you don’t want to fail three times in a row.”

Joe Kudla reviewed his first two tries to prevent another failure. He had started both businesses as side jobs while maintaining a full-time accounting position, first at Ernst & Young and then with the San Diego-based recruiting consulting firm Vaco.

His main message was to ditch the safety net, abandon your career, and commit fully.

“The lessons that I took from those early businesses was that for me to build an apparel brand, I wasn’t going to be able to do it on the side, as a side hustle or out of the garage,” says Kudla, “I would have to plunge in headfirst and develop an obsession.”

For two reasons, he claims, launching the current version of Vuori as a side business would not have been successful. First, if investors had known he wasn’t giving the company his full attention, it would have been more difficult for him to win their support.

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Second, if Vuori had trouble right away, he had learned from experience that he might wish to give up and go back to his regular employment.

“As soon as things got hard, I would have said, ‘It’s not working,’ and just gone back to the easy path,” Kudla says.

Kudla left his position at Vaco and raised $700,000 in a “friends and family” investment round to start producing and selling the first Vuori goods to establish an apparel company that could compete with companies like Lululemon.

The company faced significant difficulties in its early years. According to Kudla, less than two years after its debut, Vuori was just four weeks away from going bankrupt. But since there wasn’t a clear backup strategy, Kudla believed he had to go all in and find a way for Vuori to generate money.

His last answer, going from selling clothes in gyms and yoga studios to an e-commerce sales approach with significant social media marketing, worked, saving him from a third failure that would have left him with no revenue at all.

The first two tries Kudla made also aided him in another manner. The CEO claims that despite having little to no experience in the industry and being drawn to the idea of making and marketing garments, those enterprises failed miserably.

According to him, the failures of his startups essentially acted as his design school: “They taught me so much.”

Source: CNBC