Braxley Bands hustles to near million dollar sales mark
Take a look at Mark Cuban's wristwatch the next time he's on-camera. He may be sporting an accessory from an Innovation Hub alumni team. The billionaire investor got his Braxley Bands Apple Watch wristband when the company's co-founders attended Cuban's Q&A session at South by Southwest in March. CEO Braxton Manley says, "I had a bunch of our bands that I was giving out to people there. I noticed he was wearing just the classic plastic band that Apple Watches come with. I ask the first question. I say, 'Mark, I noticed you have an Apple Watch. I've got this elastic watchband in Dallas Mavericks colors for you. It's really comfortable. Would you like to try it on?' He says, 'Yeah! I'll try anything.'" COO Grant Andrews says, "He also told us, 'Good hustle. Keep hustling!'"
It's taken a whole lot of hustle to grow a hand-sewn Red Raider Startup Program project in 2016 into the trendy product line that's now somewhere near the million dollar sales mark, a monumental milestone for startups. Manley says, "We won the Presidents' Innovation Award Grant our junior year summer and that got us workspace at the Hub. I would say for our first 100-thousand dollars in sales we were making the bands out at the Innovation Hub, staying until like 4 in the morning, then going to class at 9 and hustling," he says. "It was exhausting, but it was the biggest thrill I've ever had in my whole life!" Production eventually moved to Austin, until the pace of demand led the company to outsource it to Hong Kong. Braxley Bands now contracts with a fulfillment center in Rockwall, Texas to handle orders and logistics on shipments.
Andrews and Manley say a long-game perspective and grinding are key components of the entrepreneurial culture many people overlook. "It's a really romanticized thing a lot of times," Andrews says. "You see someone on social media in front of a cool car saying he did it in three months or whatever." Manley agrees. "It's not like you just start something then all of a sudden you make a million bucks and you're good." He says Braxley Bands remains a bootstrap-funded business, scaling up through reinvesting earnings in the company. Manley says, "We took on a lot of sacrifices, especially with our last two years of college at Texas Tech. We used to be at the Hub with a couple of other student startup groups and it was so fun, like we're all in this together, we are all hustling. Something about that kind of community is so powerful just when it comes to determination and confidence. It can't be replicated."
Andrews says steadily growing the Braxley Bands brand continues to be the focus. "I think we've always kind of had the ambition to not just create a cool, fashionable product with new fresh designs, but to create a community, a lifestyle you want. Our hashtag is 'join the band,' you know, be a part of this culture." Remembering their roots is another big part of Braxley Bands' culture. Andrews says, "We were really fortunate with how much the Lubbock and Texas Tech community helped us get started. We always look for those opportunities to give back where we can."